Listen to this article

As it stands, the Specialty Equipment Market Association is still happening in early November, even though virtually all major car events have been cancelled so far this year due to the coronavirus pandemic. One of the cars we’ll be keeping an eye in Las Vegas will be this spectacular Highway Star developed by Hemi Autoworks and Ellsworth Racing. Named after a Deep Purple song from 1972, the unique build is what happens when a couple of totaled muscle cars donate what was worth saving to give life to a truly special vehicle.

Much like the mythological Phoenix Bird rises from its own ashes, the Highway Star’s frame is sourced from a Dodge Viper devoured by fire. The chassis is being stretched by around 13 inches (33 centimeters) in order to be compatible with the body taken from a 1970 Challenger. Badly rusted and poorly restored, the body is being rejuvenated and widened by more than 1.5 inches (3.8 cm) with beefier fenders to increase the total added width by nearly 4 inches (10.1 cm).

The custom body is going through additional changes as it will use an adaptation of an R/T hood to make room in the engine bay for the car’s new heart. Speaking of which, the Highway Star will be powered by a “mostly stock” 6.2-liter HEMI V8 Hellcat engine with a supercharger ported by Kong Performance and heat shielding spacers from FI Interchillers. Power will be channeled to the road through a Viper-spec transmission with a Mantic Clutch USA triple disc and billet flywheel.

The team behind this ambitious project is borrowing additional bits and pieces from the Viper, including the suspension, and will upgrade the coilovers, brakes, and cooling with help from Complete Performance Motorsports. They’ll also work on aero by implementing a functional splitter, spoiler, and diffuser. The car will ride on Viper-spec 19-inch wheels with seriously fat tires.

Gallery: Highway Star for 2020 SEMA

As far as the interior is concerned, it takes the less is more approach. The stripped-out cabin will only feature a full roll cage, six-point harnesses from St Louis Race Gear, and a factory-esque dashboard with Stewart Warner gauges. While there’s no air conditioning because it would’ve added weight, the cabin does have heat and noise insulation by Cool It Thermo-Tec.

To make it happen, Hemi Autoworks and Ellsworth Racing also teamed up with Ron Francis Wiring for the wiring harness as well as with Pareto Point Inc to provide the supplemental oil filtration system. Other companies involved in the Highway Star project include Hot Rod Fuel Hose for all the hoses and lines for fuel, power steering, and supercharger coolant, while the lightweight glass comes from Racing Shields. Inside, the pistol grip shifter, vinyl trim, and several other OEM-like style parts have been supplied by YearOne.

The people behind Highway Star wish to emphasize it’s more than just a SEMA-bound car that won’t be seen ever again as it’s being developed as a “real street-driven race car.” To prove it, the completed car will race on a national level in various events across the country.

Got a tip for us? Email: