Home » With A War In His Country This Enthusiast Did What Any Of Us Would Do And Built His Dream Car

With A War In His Country This Enthusiast Did What Any Of Us Would Do And Built His Dream Car

Ukraine Chally Ts
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Daydreaming is common among car enthusiasts. For all that we do with our vehicles, we’re always thinking far ahead. When we get the time, when we get the money, we’ll go ahead and get that dream car and turn it into the ride we’ve always wanted to build. The problem is that if you dream too long, you’ll watch years go by before you ever turn a wrench. Sometimes, it takes extraordinary circumstances to snap you out of it and remind you that life is for living today.

Enter Yevhen. He’s a gearhead through and through, and he’s spent the better part of this year putting together a Dodge Challenger with a slick retro vibe. It’s been more challenging for him than you might expect. He’s been building the car as his country struggles against foreign invaders inside its own borders.

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“War time is not a good time to buy cars,” Yevhen tells me from his home in Ukraine. “On the other hand, you have to do something not to lose the sense of life.”

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A mechanic by trade, Yevhen runs his own shop. “Besides my family, cars are the sense of my life,” he says. ” I service, maintain, repair and wrap cars. I paint them, I write about them, I build them, I raced them and hold the events, I talk about them with my friends and… I love them.” It was that passion that led him to the Challenger. “When I saw this barge with a manual transmission and a Hemi, I couldn’t resist,” he tells me. “War makes our decisions faster, cause you clearly understand that you may not have another chance to make your dream come true.” It’s a dramatic statement, but not an untrue one. “Daily rocket attacks make you realize that every day can be your last day,” he explains.

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His car didn’t come to him brand new. Instead, the 2016 model was auctioned and sold into Ukraine a while ago. “Odesa is a former ‘JDM Culture’ city that transformed to a Copart/IAAI city without any culture this time, unfortunately,” he explains. Yes, that’s right—big US auction companies do business shipping American cars to the continent on the regular.
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Given the completeness of the transformation, you might be surprised to learn how long he’s had the car. “I bought it 6 months ago,” he says, but he’s still demure on his progress. “It’s hard to do everything here now… missile attacks, air alerts, permanent shutdowns, import was literally stopped for a period of time, lack of money, lack of time, lack of mood…” He notes the build is unfinished, though my experience says he’s a quick worker. In the days since I first made contact, he’d already made further upgrades to the vehicle including a new rear wing.
Fundamentally, building a car in Ukraine isn’t like building one in California. “Each part ordered from US is shipped within a month, but sometimes it takes twice as long,” he says.
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Drive around the US, and you’ll see tacky modern muscle cars everywhere you go. Anyone can go to Autozone and buy a bunch of fake chrome trim and badges and ruin a modern Challenger, Camaro, or Mustang. But somehow, Yevhen managed to make his retro tribute work, and work well. You might expect that he’d spent years working on American muscle, growing familiar with the aesthetic and values. And yet!

“I’ve never seen any American classic in person,” he says. “But being a journalist also with a couple of my own historical blogs and groups, I know something about cars.” He paid fine attention to detail on his build, which helped him achieve a factory-like appearance. “I try to represent as many features of a 1971 R/T on my modern boat, while avoiding breaking the borders of common sense,” he explains. If a badge or a detail wasn’t on the real thing, he won’t slap it on his car. “My car should become a tribute to the OG Challenger, and [become] kind of a blast from the past for me personally,” he says.

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Perhaps the classiest mod is in the interior. Yevhen had a gorgeous woodgrain finish applied to all the dash pieces. It’s a beautiful throwback to the 1970s, the era of veneer. He achieved this by having the parts hydrodipped. It’s a process where the plastic pieces are lowered into a liquid bath with woodgrain-patterned pigment floating on top. In this case, the dark woodgrain effect pairs perfectly with the rest of the black interior. It’s custom, and it looks good, which is more than we can say of most modified interiors we see.

Externally, he’s given the Challenger a set of American Racing VN501 wheels, wrapped in Petlas Explero rubber. For the proper vintage look, he shaved the sidewalls and threw on ’71-style tire lettering which looks the business. A set of Eibach Pro-Kit lowering springs helps set the stance. Exhaust-wise, he switched the factory X-pipe for an H-pipe setup, threw on Flowmaster mufflers, and deleted the resonators for a throatier tone. There’s also a lovely Hellcat-style air catcher up front for a properly mean look.

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The rest of it comes down to decals, badging, and detail pieces. It might sound trivial, but getting all this right is why the car looks so well put together. He’s got the ’71 style emblems in the appropriate spots on the body, a chrome fuel door, and Pentastar badges on the fenders. He’s also got amber fog light covers that he modified from Harley Davidson turn signals, headlight bezels, and a high-quality R/T vinyl on the side of the body. Other nice touches include the hood pins, the imitation vinyl top, and the Go-Wing on the rear trunk lid.

Throw a couple of these pieces on wrong, and it’d look like a mess. It doesn’t take much chrome trim or vinyl to turn a stock car into a laughing stock. But Yevhen did the job right, and the results speak for themselves.

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His story is perhaps a lesson for any car fan that is feeling disconnected from their passion. Obviously, feeding and clothing yourself comes first in life, as does shelter and all the rest. Nevertheless, sometimes you have go after something if it’s important to you. None of us know how much time we have left, and we most often regret the things we didn’t do.

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Yevhen saw his opportunity and went for it. He’s built himself an American beast on his own terms. The car is a credit to him and his craft, and it stands as a shining example for us all.

Bottom line? Don’t wait to start living. Get after it now.

Image credits: Yevhen Kovalchuk

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Autojunkie
Autojunkie
13 days ago

As Challenger owner, I approve. This build is amazing! He’s pulled all the retro touches without making it look ridiculous like so many others I see.

Yevhen Kovalchuk
Yevhen Kovalchuk
13 days ago
Reply to  Autojunkie

Thank you! In my opinion any mod has to have a “background” and each tiny detail matters, hence can either save or ruin the whole plan.

Theotherotter
Theotherotter
11 days ago

Don’t forget to add some chrome trim around the wheel housings! 🙂

Yevhen Kovalchuk
Yevhen Kovalchuk
11 days ago
Reply to  Theotherotter

And around side markers along with door handles. Then add 71 style quarter vents, and that’s it.

Yevhen Kovalchuk
Yevhen Kovalchuk
11 days ago
Reply to  Theotherotter

And around side markers and taillights’ red sections along with door handles. Then add faux 1971 style quarter panel vents, and that’s it.

Theotherotter
Theotherotter
13 days ago

This build is spectacular, and more so for being built under such difficult circumstances. Huge respect for the owner.

Yevhen Kovalchuk
Yevhen Kovalchuk
11 days ago
Reply to  Theotherotter

Thank you!

Freelivin2713
Freelivin2713
13 days ago

This is so awesome, especially the tributes to the classic Challenger
Mopar or no car

Yevhen Kovalchuk
Yevhen Kovalchuk
11 days ago
Reply to  Freelivin2713

The whole car was initially made as a tribute. I just went slightly further.

Freelivin2713
Freelivin2713
11 days ago

Oh yeah, even better!

Dodsworth
Dodsworth
13 days ago

I love the Pentastar badges. I’m surprised by how much I like the wood grain interior. Way to go, Yevhen!

Yevhen Kovalchuk
Yevhen Kovalchuk
11 days ago
Reply to  Dodsworth

Thank you! Trying to my best.

Paul B
Paul B
13 days ago

Wow, some of the best bang for the buck I’ve ever seen with a project car.

Plus, simple and refined is my preference.

Yevhen Kovalchuk
Yevhen Kovalchuk
12 days ago
Reply to  Paul B

I’m on a budget, so that was the goal))

Cheats McCheats
Cheats McCheats
14 days ago

Funny this comes up now. I just arrived in Ukraine Sunday and already seen 3 challengers.

Yevhen Kovalchuk
Yevhen Kovalchuk
12 days ago

Guess all of them were V6 widebodies with Demon badges on Hellcat hoods and HUGE wheels spacers ????

James Gawne
James Gawne
14 days ago

This just looks incredible. And to think that it was built in a country that’s been in a constant state of war for the last 27 months… that’s damned impressive.

Yevhen Kovalchuk
Yevhen Kovalchuk
11 days ago
Reply to  James Gawne

Thanks! It still a matter of craziness, not courage.

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