The Weird Car Internet™ is a fickle place prone to being easily distracted by French cars and lifted Miatas, so it’s of significant note when all of the WCI gets excited about one particular person or car. Last week it was “The Midnight Wolf” that captured our collective attention, specifically with an image of a framed tale of a Challenger SRT8 whose “first Alpha didn’t appreciate” and that had to be rescued from “fading away.” It now proudly instructs onlookers to “Always Drive Faster Than The Devil Can Run.” We talked to the car’s “new Alpha” and the story–and paint job–is even better than you’d imagine.
Here’s the original tweet from our friend Syd:
there’s no way pic.twitter.com/HGUGDJEUDO— -ˋˏ syd ˎˊ- (@deerfella) August 29, 2023
If you need to see what it says a little clearer:
The original post has over 2,300 likes, 196 replies, and 186,000 views on Twitter/X. The responses are about what you’d expect, with people assuming the car owner is a boomer, and stating that it is “the most mopar thing i’ve read in my life.” Someone on Reddit said “this makes me want to cry and not in a good way.”
Internally, our initial reaction was mixed. On the one hand, it can read as a little cringe, especially the bit about foreign cars. On the other hand, this is a car enthusiast who rescued a car they loved, takes care of it, and displays it for others. We’re pro-car here, so rather than jump on the bandwagon we decided to reach out to the owner and find out the true story behind “The Midnight Wolf” and, friends, it does not disappoint.
Yes, some of the expectations about the owner are in fact correct. Charles, the new Alpha, lives in Washington State and works as a trainer and mechanic in the aviation industry. We didn’t specifically ask Charles his age, but it’s safe to assume he’s somewhere along the Gen X/Boomer divide. He does, in fact, own a Hawaiian shirt with pictures of a Dodge Challenger proudly nestled amid the palm trees.
He also bought the car and modified it specifically to take to car shows and raise money for his community.
“I always wanted an SRT8 and after a chain reaction of fortunate instances I managed to get one,” Charles told The Autopian. “I wanted something I could build back to help serve others and do a little good in the world. When I first pulled the damaged car in the driveway my wife said it sounded like it was growling, hence the name Midnight Wolf. Funny thing is I didn’t know the paint was called Midnight Black Pearl. “
That makes perfect sense to us and, of course, mad respect for buying something that needed a little care. Of course, as a technician trained to work on jet engines, a Challenger SRT8 is probably not that much of a challenge.
“During Covid, the Wolf never missed out on cruises for birthdays, graduations, retirements, and yes, sadly, even funerals. I change the graphics every year to keep it fresh for the next set of shows and even road trip it to Tucson for a couple shows once a year.”
The Wolf is a daily driver with about 112,000 miles on the clock, so before a show Charles spends about six hours detailing her (it is a her) and attending to the paint, which… I’m going to let Charles explain the paint.
“My present graphics are of the Wolf escaping the chains of hell and the search for some kind of redemption, the rear windshield reflects the Wolf walking the thin line between heaven and hell,” Charles explained. “A funny note, the ones who appreciate her most are children and little old women, I don’t know why but they always seem to have the most interest in her.”
So, what are the mods mentioned in the car’s story?
The custom exhaust spoken of includes a mid-muffler delete, three-inch pipes, and Borla mufflers with the stock tips attached so “she doesn’t sound like every other Challenger with [a] modified exhaust.” Finally she has “custom lighting in the headlights, fog lights, grill, engine bay and active hood scoops.”
When we inquired about the signs we found out that there are not one, but two different signs that run at shows.
“The first reads ‘Daily Driver Warning Health Hazard… Climbing on or touching this vehicle can cause fat lips, severe nose bleeds or fractured limbs,’ but I always let the kids in to take pictures and blast the Wolf horn that imitates a wolf howl,” said Charles, adding a delightful detail to the story. “The second one is from the Midnight Wolf’s perspective…”
I’m glad we reached out to Charles because it’s always nice to get some context for what, at first, seems like an Internet joke. If I’m being entirely honest, this car isn’t exactly how I’d modify a car, but my idea for the ideal modified car is a C4 Corvette painted like a Japanese Highway Patrol car with all the words written in Italian in a sort William Gibson/Miyazaki tribute and I can barely explain that idea to myself, let alone other people.
When we say we’re “pro-car” here, what we mean is that we want to embrace a sort of automotive pluralism that highlights not what you drive but why you drive. Car culture isn’t as fragile or fleeting as many have suggested, but it’s true that there’s a real threat to it. By bashing other people for liking something different, or shearing ourselves off into smaller and smaller groups, we’re not advancing car culture. We’re diminishing it.
And, to the credit of the Weird Car Internet™ , some of the people who found it were able to appreciate the car un-ironically. Because when you talk to Charles you realize that the what may be a little extra, but the why is pretty much on point:
My story isn’t special, but I will say this, The Midnight Wolf is purpose built for serving my community, veterans, first responders, and children in need of help and we will roll to any show we can for that purpose.
Not all heroes wear capes, some wear Hawaiian shirts with pictures of their car on it.
All photos courtesy of Charles. David Tracy and Peter Vieira contributed to this story.
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