Kowalski’s Challenger Rides Again


Ask any die hard Dodge enthusiast what their favorite car movie is of all time and most will acknowledge the 1971 cult classic Vanishing Point ranks at the top of their list. The plot was very simple and pure as the main character who is only known as “Kowalski” works for a car delivery service. There’s a bet he accepts from one of his “hook-ups’ that he can’t drive from Denver to San Francisco in less than 15 hours. He gladly accepts the wager and begins his power shifting odyssey with a white 1970 Challenger R/T. Along the way he has a few run-ins with the highway patrol, a Jaguar XKE and numerous dubious and somewhat “interesting” folks.


We all know the end of the movie does not bode well for both Kowalski and his big-block E-Body as they both meet their demise in a roadblock outside a small cattle town. Here the hero and his white steed impact a pair of bulldozers and erupt in a cataclysmic fireball explosion thus sealing their fate.


This movie had a profound effect on the minds young car junkies everywhere in the early 1970s and for one in particular, it would have a lasting impression. That young man was Bob Frederick whose love of all things Mopar  started at an early age as his father owned a Dodge dealership in Canfield, Ohio.


Bob was seven years old when he first saw Vanishing Point and he was hooked. He was glued to his TV set watching the Challenger and its high-speed romp through the desert while Kowalski rowed the Hurst Pistol Grip shifter. Eventually Bob would follow in his father’s footsteps as he got into the car business and began selling performance-minded customers Challenger and Charger R/Ts along with SRT8 models. However, it was Bob’s ambition and goal to recreate that iconic white Challenger R/T from the big screen. “When Dodge finally released the new Challenger in 2008, I immediately thought about how cool it would be to do a “Vanishing Point” version of the car. As the 2009 models rolled out, the R/T was available in White, but the SRT8 model was not. I ordered in a few White 6-speed R/T models in honor of Kowalski, but felt that the higher powered SRT8 would really be the one to do it on” said Bob. However, the opportunity did present itself this year when we launched the 2011 392 Inaugural Edition Challenger SRT8. Knowing it was available in white Bob began making phone calls to our Challenger team in Auburn Hills to see if there would be a possibility to build 10 unique units without the stripes and with different options. Bob really wanted to make this package special and true to the original concept.  “I met with the team and told them what I wanted: 2011 Challenger SRT8 392, 6-speed manual, bright white, stripe delete, Dark Slate SRT seats, WP3 Alcoa SRT aluminum 20” wheels, 730 Nav and SRT Option Group II. They all liked the idea and said he would try to get it done. I reminded them that the paint was already in the plant and that the unique SRT8 parts were already there in white as well, so it seemed logical that it could be done”


However that’s easier said than done as plants are highly automated and systems are hard to override to create low volume special vehicle builds. Never one to give up, Bob and our team huddled again and came up with a game plan. By entering the orders manually, they could override the system and get 10 2011 Challengers built to specifications Bob wanted. “After the meeting, I was really excited, but knew that it wouldn’t be definite until the first one rolled off the line successfully. The next week I gave the team the exact specs that I wanted, including a request for sequential VINs and unique sequential VONs. These are the only White, Slate interior, stripe delete cars made. I also requested special dash badges that read: “Frederick Scat Pack Kowalski Edition __of 10.”


By late-February, the orders were in the system and had sequential VIN’s and unique vehicle order numbers. Bob even found a unique code in the system to track the cars, “All ten Kowalski Edition Challengers made through the build process with no glitches with the help of tracking code 57X, which means ‘Scat Pack Tracking’, how cool is that!”.


The vehicles then were shipped to New Wilmington Motors in Pennsylvania where they receive some unique items to further commemorate Kowalski’s Challenger. Cool parts such as 1970’s Pistol Grip Shifter with woodgrain inserts, Mopar Chrome Quad Exhaust Tips, Rear Quarter Glass Scat Pack Bees, Unique Fender Tag and Broadcast Sheet, ‘Kowalski Edition’ Rear Spoiler and underhood decal, ‘Frederick Scat Pack Kowalski Edition’ numbered dash plaque and finally a reproduction 1970 Colorado License Plate with OA 5599 (this is really cool as this was the plate number from Challenger in the movie!).


We had an opportunity to see the first ‘Kowalski Edition’ Challenger at last weekend’s LX Spring Fest in Irvine, California. Its new owner is Mike Haislet and he’s a diehard Challenger enthusiast (he’s also one of our many Dodge Facebook Fans). Mike and his wife recreated their version of Vanishing Point by driving all the way from Holland, Michigan to the west coast. Mike met up with the Challenger team and had them sign the engine compartment. Even our own Ralph Gilles got in on the fun.


The response to the ‘Kowalski Edition’ has been phenomenal as it’s all been by word of mouth. Bob told us all that ten have been sold and he’s not sure is another run will ever be planned. It’s good to know that there are people like Bob in our tightly knit Dodge community that have the drive and ambition to work with our team and build some really cool and unique cars that may become collector items one day. We all know it would be awesome to take the 2011 Challenger SRT8 Kowalski Edition and make the run from Denver to San Francisco in less than 15 hours. Bet you one thing, we’re sure we can find Leslie West and Mountain cranking “Mississippi Queen” on the Sirius Satellite Radio!



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