Vanishing Point Returns

David Gluckman
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Chrysler's entry for the 2008 One Lap of America is using the 1971 film Vanishing Point as inspiration. A white 2008 Dodge Challenger SRT8 will stand in for the 1970 Challenger R/T featured in the movie. SRT Vehicle Dynamics Supervisor Erich Heuschele and Chrysler Vice President of Design Ralph Gilles have the enviable task of piloting the muscle car during the modern-day Cannonball Run.

The car won't be the only retro-inspired aspect of the team; Heuschele will play Vanishing Point star Jimmy Kowalski, and Gilles will assume the role of radio DJ Super Soul for the event.

The detail-oriented duo has taken an immersive approach to the starring roles. Gilles and Heuschele have put together a wardrobe to match that of the movie - Heuschele's mom knitted a hat for Super Soul and also remade Kowalski's vest, while Gilles's wife went shopping for 70s clothing and period-correct big leather watch bands. They've registered for the event under the names Kowalski and Super Soul and list the characters' employers - Argo's Car Delivery and KOW Radio - as sponsors. The car even wears a recreation of the 1970 Colorado license plate from the film.

There will of course be some differences. Fortunately for his co-driver, Gilles is not blind like the character he'll be playing. Instead of attempting to deliver the Challenger from Denver to San Francisco in less than 16 hours, the team will be competing on tracks around the country over eight days. The One Lap competition begins and ends at The Tire Rack's South Bend, Indiana, headquarters, stopping at various tracks along the way for different scored events.

The new Challenger they'll be competing in comes with its own history. It carries VIN 003 and was the first Challenger to be driven on the road where it accrued 4000 hard test miles. Originally painted black and clad in camouflage, the car also wore orange paint for photo shoot duty before it got the white hue.

Kowalski and Super Soul's ride has been prepared for the event with a long list of upgrades, though the engine is original to the car and has never been removed. Mopar products include coilovers, front and rear swaybars, a front shock tower brace, a cold air intake, and a cat back exhaust by Corsa. The fender lips have been rolled to accept custom 20" Foose "Challenger" wheels. Power transmission is aided by a Quaife limited-slip differential and a torque converter from a Grand Cherokee SRT8 that works with a Mopar transmission reflash. It is entered in the SSGT2 Big Bore class.

We wish the throwback team the best of luck and will follow their progress from the event's start on Friday, May 2.

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