The eXoMod C68 Carbon is the Hellcat restomod that makes friends for you

There are few mainstream performance cars with the pure charisma (or sheer length of title) of a Dodge Challenger Hellcat Redeye. After all, this is the car for the doctorate-level negotiator who looked at the standard Hellcat’s 717-horsepower output and said, “Eh, are you sure you can’t do any better than that?” But park that same Redeye next to this monster disguised as a 1968 Charger and you can kiss the day’s attention goodbye; you won’t be getting any of it. 

Yep, forget Redeye. Forget Hellcat for that matter. Sure, it’s cool as hell that eXoMod Concepts managed to wrap this carbon fiber “exoskeleton” around a modern unibody and Hellcat powertrain, but the mechanicals are frankly irrelevant. This thing absolutely exudes badassery. And in true Mopar fashion, its nomenclature comes in an American-sized mouthful. Officially, it’s the 2021 Dodge Challenger

SRT Hellcat C68 Carbon. Sure, it’s no 2020 Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Widebody Daytona 50th Anniversary Edition, but people will still get tired of listening to your answer of “what kind of car do you drive?” As such, I’ll be calling it the “68 Carbon” from now on if that’s cool with you, because I don’t need to quicken my inevitable interphalangeal arthritis diagnosis.

Rather than waste keystrokes (and cartilage) on the 68 Carbon’s titular endowment, I’ll hit you with the details. In no small part due to its modern underpinnings, its body is 4 inches wider than an original 1968 Charger’s. The completely custom body includes “bumblebee” stripes, a custom carbon fiber dual snorkel hood, a “68 Carbon” grille with vintage-style headlight coverage, 20-inch wheels (Forgeline in our case) fitted with Nitto NT555 G2s. Inside, you get custom Italian leather upholstery with some eXoMod flourishes. Frankly, there’s not much to look at in there; the real party is outside. 

Part of what makes the C68 Carbon so appealing is that there’s officially no set specification. eXoMod has no intention to build them in volume, so one-off touches are allowed (provided you have the scratch); the car finished in Plum Crazy (above left) sold for a whopping $274,000 on Bring a Trailer back in May, and judging by eXoMod’s currently published pricing, that buyer got a bit of a deal. The blue one (above right) is the example I got to play around with. If you ask me, we got the prettier wheels, but I will forever have a s oft spot for Plum Crazy — the color

of my (since sold) 2013 Challenger 392. And I thought that car had a big personality. This thing will demote even a minty Demon to wallflower status the moment it enters visual range.

You can see some other differences between the two cars above, but no matter how you choose to spec it, the care and craftsmanship that go into the build are readily apparent. The custom and reproduction parts impress and the build quality appears first-rate. And don’t be fooled by superficialities; the side markers may look ridiculous on a car being sold in 2023, but that’s a period-correct (and optional) touch. The clear-coated carbon weave looks absolutely stunning in person. 

On a sunny July afternoon, eXoMod CEO Rick Katzeff and I took the C68 Carbon for a spin around southeast Michigan. I planned a route that would take us out of the busy exurbs of western Wayne County to some open roads where we could let the car stretch its legs a bit, but finding the squiggliest line on the map wasn’t the goal. eXoMod left this 2021 Redeye’s chassis and powertrain well enough alone, and this is not my first supercharged Mopar. This thing is every bit as much of a riot as any other automatic-equipped Redeye, but I really couldn’t care less about that part. I don’t want to see how it reacts to the road; I want to see how the world reacts to it

Detroit loves its cars — and by that I don’t mean just the cars built by Detroit. While I’m sure that was once the case, the modern Metro’s automotive tastes are as diverse as the region has become, and the industry itself has imported enthusiasts of all stripes. Car culture is still OK here, even among those like myself who think we could (and should) embrace new ways of doing things

. In a way, that’s kind of the point of the C8 Carbon. Sure, it’s still packing a hilariously over-powered and old-fashioned V8 to go with its pure-vintage exterior, but the cabin, electronics and safety systems are all brand-new — well, as brand-new as they can get on a 2015 (or newer!) Dodge Challenger.

Anyway, that’s the long way ’round to saying that this sucker was a hit. But popularity has its drawbacks. Sometimes it means trying to merge into an exit lane while the all-star mom in the minivan

one lane over slows down so her wide-eyed elementary school entourage can gawk and wave. Others, it means holding up the line at a stoplight because the Mopar geek next to you wants to know just what the heck you’re driving.

But sometimes it also means immunity from the usual glares and finger-wagging — perhaps even the much-deserved whoop of a siren. When we staked claim to a three-way suburban intersection for an impromptu photo shoot, impatience was nowhere to be found. All smiles and thumbs up. As we stopped for flaggers ahead of a rural lane closure, they approached with mouths agape, eager to know what they were looking at. Duly enlightened, they suggested that it might be fun to see just what such a machine could do.

“He’s gonna do it,” I heard the one holding the radio say. Just like that, the seas parted. The crew ahead stepped back from the lane markings and the sign was flipped. We got the point, and off we went. Such a wonderful crew … even if they definitely invited us to speed through their active work zone. Oh well; all I can say is I wasn’t driving at the time.

That settled it, though. Sure, it goes like a Redeye and it sounds like one too. But perhaps even more important, it can spark spontaneous, universal rebellion even among the orderly and diligent. All good sports cars are at least a little bit subversive, but it’s the rare machine that gets even the gnarliest pearl-clutchers to settle for stern silence. Either that or we just couldn’t hear their objections over the howl of that V8.

Yes, I just indirectly lumped this under the “sports car” umbrella. Save your strength; I know a muscle car when I see one. Curiously, though, the 68 Carbon seems to appeal more to the sports car crowd than to the buyer Katzeff expected — the blue-collar-guy-made-good types who he’s seen dumping big money into other classic and muscle car efforts. eXoMod’s buyers are less “local swap meet” and more “let’s swap Porsche 911

GT3 allocations.” They are more likely to park their C68 Carbon next to an Aventador or G-Wagen rather than a GT500 or Super Duty. Remember, this car is not for the light of wallet.

Nor is it for the small of personality. If you’re not a social butterfly, look elsewhere, because this car shines brighter than any bug zapper. It will make you new friends whether you want them or not. I suppose you could store it away someplace and never drive it, but to buy this car

and not be seen in it would be to miss the point entirely.

The C68 Carbon distills so much of what makes the Challenger Hellcat so great already. It’s a thoroughly modern, safe, and capable muscle machine wrapped in a wildly nostalgic wrapper. Sure, it’s expensive enough to induce a mild seizure, but it’s correspondingly ambitious even by restomod standards. Better than that, it works, both literally and visually. Can you do one in Go Mango? Asking for a friend.