Rides By Kam '70 Dodge Challenger
Upsetting the balance
Everything is bigger in Texas, but everything is wild in Australia. Have you checked out the Power Cruise events down there, and more importantly the cars these guys bring? Huge blowers sticking out of the hood and either super wide meats or space-saver spares in back. Burnouts are the name of the game; the louder, longer and smokier the better. The Aussies make our lawn chair-riddled shows look like a snooze fest. A good friend once informed me that a static car show is akin to a gentleman’s club where all the dancers are asleep. Things are hopping in Australia, to say the least.
Robert Zahabi, owner of Rides by Kam, has a resume full of wild muscle cars. We’ve featured his work on these pages in the past, and this ’70 Dodge Challenger will not be the last. Rob titled his latest creation “Havoc,” which resonates for a variety of reasons. First, because the car has the goods to wreak havoc on both the streets and show circuit, and second, because Mopar guys usually squirm to see a Pentastar muscle car sliced up. Good on ya, I say.
To kick things off, Rob secured a Roadster Shop Fast Track chassis, fleshed out with an independent rear suspension system, while rack and pinion steering with A-arms hangs out up front. Air bags were placed at each corner to achieve the wicked stance Rob has become known for. Long gone are the original 14” wheels, now you’ll find 20s at each corner; eight inches wide in the front and a jaw dropping 15” wide in back. Just a glance tells you that a ton of time and effort went into hiding those huge rollers when the bags collapse.
The sheetmetal work on this car is remarkable as it’s been done in such a way that the mods aren’t immediately evident. For example, did you notice how the body line down the side is less pronounced, and the upper portions of the side panels seem flatter? What about the bulge in the hood between the original angled scoops? Both bumpers have been narrowed, massaged and tucked in, while the tailpanel holds custom taillights that echo stock Challenger. The door handles are slim, flush-mount jobs sprayed body color, all but disappearing into the PPG Slanted Brown paint. Rob hid a lot of magic in plain sight.
Known as a trim shop first and foremost, Rides by Kam pulls out all the stops when it comes to their interiors. Rob had a literal blank slate between the doors, with the entire floor and dash getting cut out. The substantial transmission tunnel and hand-formed dash flow together through a center console prominently displaying a flush-mounted tablet. All of the matte black surfaces are painted steel, which makes up most of the interior. Brown diamond-stitched leather fills the rest of the space, including the custom bucket seats, door panels and floor accents. Even the roof has smoothed steel panels with dimple-die holes and stitched leather inserts. The dash was scratch built around our VHX-1200 instrument system, and the resulting twin-hump design harkens back to a variety of vintage sports cars. Rob chose the carbon fiber face styling with red LED backlighting and loves that he can view just about any parameter in the large LCD message centers.
The engine is nothing short of overwhelming, and probably the real reason Rob chose the name Havoc. A Mopar Performance 572 block serves as the foundation, its 4.5” bores filled with forged Diamond pistons. They swing on a forged crank and inhale through 2.225” valves in the aluminum Hemi heads. This alone would make for a wild powerplant, but remember, Aussie car guys don’t know when to quit. Rob added a crank-driven F3R Procharger to the front of the engine, which moves the output into the four-digit range. I have to think that this brute tied to a T-56 six-speed must be a lot like driving on ice; the rear tires turning to goo in every gear.
The talent and energy that went into this car is extreme; every welded joint has been smoothed and sanded, the underside of the transmission tunnel is as smooth as the roof and the engine not only makes other-worldly power, but has been dressed and detailed to excess. No detail goes overlooked at Rides by Kam. I tell ya, the work ethic, drive, and desire to win is bigger in Australia.