Raising some Hell(cat Redeye) on the Avenue
Last year we spent the first three days of Woodward Dream Cruise week riding along with designers from the Detroit Three. This year we decided to round up reps from each company’s performance group. First up: Mark Trostle, who has been overseeing the SRT performance group’s design since March of 2011. These days he also has responsibility for Dodge, and all passenger and utility-vehicle exterior design, as well, but it’s still the high-performance stuff that excites him. A car guy through and through, the racing bug bit him when he started autocrossing a Dodge Omni GLH Turbo. He crewed for a friend who was IT racing a CRX and eventually bought a showroom stock Dodge Neon race car (which he drove home to Michigan from Florida in the summer). Sadly we spotted no GLHs, Neons, nor the first car he purchased as a Chrysler employee: a 1992 Eagle Talon TSI Turbo with AWD. These days Mark’s daily driver is a Hellcat, but because he opted for the rear-seat-delete package, we’re rolling in a press-office Hellcat Widebody that seats four.
2018 Dodge Challenger SRT Demon
Maybe we’re overly sensitized to them tonight, but the Avenue seems to be absolutely jammed with modern high-horsepower Challengers including a Hellcat convertible (“I hope that got a lot of reinforcement!”) and about a half-dozen Demons. Several observers curbside and in nearby cars remark about not having seen a Redeye Widebody yet, however. It’s not long before we sidle up next to a Demon that’s a dead ringer for one in Mark’s collection (which bears VIN 10) except that it lacks his car’s black hood/roof/decklid option. Mark is relieved to note that none of the Hellcats or Demons on Woodward are committing the cardinal sin of leaving the bright yellow chin-spoiler protectors on. “We made them yellow so they’d be too ugly to leave on!” he exclaims. The ultimate sin, spotted at a car show: leaving the yellow protector installed and protected with blue painter’s tape.
1987-1993 Fox Mustang
Mark’s impressionable first moments at the wheel of any car came in a 1979 Mercury Capri hatchback with a manual transmission. It was built on Ford’s Fox platform shared with this Mustang. His father (also a car designer) had bought it for his mother, and it was eventually handed down to him. A budding car designer even then, Mark couldn’t resist taking the car down to bare metal, painting it black, adding 16-inch wheels, and upgrading it with the later (’83–’86) bubble-window rear hatch. A very young Mark and the aging Capri survived a carjacking in Detroit; he ended up recovering the car about a week later. Although we made umpteen laps of the hottest stretch of Woodward, we never found a Fox Capri (and saw darned few Fox Mustangs). This was the closest we came—and Mark was quick to note that this one’s modifications might not exactly match his personal taste …
2008-2010 Dodge Viper SRT 10
Mark worked internships with both GM and Chrysler design groups, but it was the Viper that inspired him to accept a job with Chrysler shortly after he graduated from the College for Creative Studies in 1992. He basically wanted to work for any company crazy or bold enough to make such a car, and sure enough, by 2011 he was in charge of the group designing the Viper. Mark previously owned a 1992 Viper, and he currently has VIN 001 of the 2017 model Viper painted in—what else?—designer’s black.
1968 Plymouth Road Runner
Mark is ever the Mopar fan, and this slightly grungy base 383 Plymouth Road Runner really caught his eye. It’s missing its Looney Tunes cartoon Road Runner decals and rear hubcaps, and its mismatched tires lend it a strong function-over-form vibe that really suits Woodward. We did not succeed in prevailing upon the owner to demonstrate its “beep-beep” horn function …
1965-1967 Mk III AC/Shelby Cobra 427
Get many designers going about iconic car designs they love, and this one comes up a lot. It quite obviously inspired the original Viper, and Mark would love to own one. It’s pretty hard (but not impossible) to imagine someone wheeling an original down Woodward, but if this is a reproduction it’s at least a very faithful knockoff with no obvious cheating on the dimensions or build quality.
1967 “Eleanoresque” Mustang
Mark was obviously destined for a life in design, given that he couldn’t leave the design of his very first hand-me-down car alone. Today he loves seeing how other people alter production designs, enhancing the line work, emphasizing the proportion, using color and sheen to show off the lines. He was very favorably impressed by this matte monochrome bronze ’67 Mustang that had a vaguely Eleanor/Gone in 60 Seconds vibe to it—but with far greater subtlety. The wheel diameters and offsets perfectly fill the arches, the hood has a Demon-like air inlet, the blacked-out chrome greenhouse trim and body-color bumpers look great, and the bronze-tint headlight lenses finish it off superbly.
1948-1951 Studebaker Starlight Coupe
When asked how the mods on this Studebaker struck him, Mark’s one-word answer was a diplomatic “polarizing.” There’s no arguing with the quality of the coachwork, which is impressive. A true artisan mixed the cleaner horizontal taillight design of the ’48–’49 Starlight coupe with the more iconic bullet-nose front end from the ’50–’51 design. Chopping the roof looks kind of cool, but the rear glass isn’t chopped enough to preserve the roof’s curvature. That’s great for rear visibility—less great for preserving the original Virgil Exner/Raymond Loewy design’s beauty.
1970 Plymouth ‘Cuda
Mark once owned a ’70 ’Cuda, though his car only packed a 360 under the hood. This one is nicely outfitted with the big-block 440, Go Wing, rally wheels, and Limelight Poly green paint.
1970 Dodge Challenger R/T
We round out our Mopar Muscle car-spotting adventure with this modestly equipped Challenger R/T, sporting a twin-nostril hood and a curious combination of a black hood stripe and white side stripes. But the factory wheels and white-letter tires really set the car off nicely, and it looked great prowling the Avenue in a sea of even wider, taller LC body Challengers.