The Man Who Rebuilt “The Wraith”
Ladies and Gentlemen, Today is a special day. We are fortunate enough to have our first GUEST POST from Wes (“Wichita Wes” ) who has actually restored a Dodge M4S Turbo Interceptor prop car. In his post he breaks down some of the aspects of the restoration process as well as other tidbits related to the Wraith. We’ve included some of the videos posted by Wes as well. If you want even more info head on over to www.thewraithcar.com.
Thanks Again Wes
(Update: Wes wanted me to mention how much of a team project rebuilding the Interceptor was. There were several people involved in seeing this thing to completion. Special mention goes to Lyle S. the owner of the vehicle.)
(His Post Below)
We stripped the chassis, reinforced it and added a 4.8 V6 engine from a Pontiac. The engine seen in the movie was obviously done with special effects. In fact, the scene where Rughead attaches the “digital radio killer” was shot with the original Dodge M4S prototype, the car that the Wraith props were made from. You can tell from the two metal beams that come out and over the engine from the top of the car. This was a reenforcement of the M4S frame. The M4S was on location for close up scenes and it’s head technician was always on call to drive it and act as an advisor to the automotive crew. His name is Steve Maki and we have been working closely with him the last few months. He has provided us with many photos and stories of his time on the set. I have included a few shots.
After working on the frame and engine, we later stripped the paint from the body and worked hard to find all of the imperfections while we straightened it out over the restored frame. From there we decided to add an interior, something simple but sporty, to give the car more of an identity. We added electric and hydrolic accuators to the doors and engine bay. When opening the engine bay it actually sounds similar to how it does when Rughead attaches the device! The doors open and close “scissor style” much like a modern day Lamborghini. In the end of the movie, you see the door open more “gull wing” style (Like the Back to the Future Delorean) but to reattach the doors to the newer frame, we would have to damage the integrity of the body, so we chose the scissor style. This worked great because the M4S prototype had scissor doors and that allowed us to pay respect to the original design while keeping the integrity of the body.
Our final touch was to have the car custom painted similar to how it appeared in the film. The paint is a bit lighter and looks like a lighter purple in certain lighting. In natural light, and under lights at night, it appears similar to the dark purple shimmer that you see when the car is handed over to Billy at the end. It’s very impressive. Our paint team at Devlin Customs did a remarkable job considering the complex curves and duel color scheme on the engine bay and the cockpit of the car.
There are some minor details and touch-ups that we are making on the car, but it is essentially restored the car runs under it’s own power, but is not street legal. We are keeping it in show-room condition for car shows and events. The car would need safety features to make it street worthy, but those features would damage the body of the car, cheapening it’s originality. It would need safety glass, weather trimming, a windscreen wiper, and mirrors attached to the outside.
Another prized piece that we have is the original Wraith suit worn by Charlie Sheen. The owner of the car, Lyle, spent several years tracking it down and found it in the possesion of the costume designer. There is expected wear and tear on the suit, but most all of the original pieces are intact, including the mysterious braces that disappeared from the body when a gang member was killed. We are still waiting on one or two braces from the designer, but everything else is there. It looks amazing, considering that it’s well over 25 years old now.
There are other little bits of memorabilia that we have, but most of it is related to the Dodge M4S and it’s role in the film. We’ve gained attention from the chief designer of the M4S pace car, Bob Ackerman, and many people that helped him with the prototype project. Stave Maki, who i mentioned earlier, has presented to us a cornucopia of photos from the M4S project and his time on the movie set. We’ve also been recently published on Allpar.com, which is a group dedicated to the history and preservation of anything Dodge and Mopar related. They released an article and interview that they did with me over our restoration of the Wraith and it’s ties to the Dodge prototype. They included a photo of our restored car, and several photos provided by Steve from his work on the M4S. The link will be included below for reference. The Wraith was re-released on DVD last year, at least in the United States. We were contacted to do an interview for the speacial features on the DVD, but schedueling conflicts came up with the car being painted and we couldn’t meet the deadline. A few of the actors have also stopped by the website to send compliments on the project.