I was re-watching the 1984 version of Red Dawn the other day and I was reminded at how many big stars came from that cast. Despite his tumultuous headline making personal life which was fueled with drug induced outbursts, knowingly having sex with over 200 partners after learning he had HIV, and allegations of domestic violence; Charlie Sheen has been in some very entertaining movies and TV shows. Charlie Sheen was all over the place throughout the 80s well into the 2000s. But one of my favorite Charlie Sheen movies was the cult classic independent action-horror flick: The Wraith. As a child, I was obsessed with cars. I guess you could say that I still am. Infamous movie vehicles like Smokey and the Bandit, Cobra, or Cannonball Run; or TV shows like The Dukes of Hazard and Knight Rider fueled cars to be a pivotal part of movie culture. The 80s were full of iconic TV and movie vehicles and some even went a step above that. Movies like Christine, The Car and even Maximum Overdrive showcase vehicles who come to life and reek havoc. The same year that Emilio Estevez starred in Maximum Overdrive; his brother Charlie Sheen starred in The Wraith.
The Wraith centers around teenager Jamie Hankins, who has been mysteriously murdered at the hands of the psychotic leader of a ruthless gang of car thieves. He comes back to life seeking revenge and to save his girlfriend who is now being intimidatingly possessed by the gang leader. He shows up covered from head-to-toe in black body armor and a black race helmet. No one is aware of who the driver actually is and as he quickly beats them at their own street racing game; he takes the members of the gang out one-by-one.
What makes him even more unique is that his vessel of revenge is a groundbreaking concept car: an all black Dodge M4S Turbo Interceptor. The Dodge M4S (M4S meaning Mid-engine 4-cylinder sports car) was a prototype sports coupe that was built by Dodge in 1981 to literally demonstrate the current technology held by the company. Despite reportedly costing Dodge around $1.5 million to create, the concept car was commissioned and paid for by PPG Industries. The powerhouse came at the hands of a 2.2 liter four cylinder Cosworth-headed 16 valve 14 cylinder twin-cam engine with dual Garrett T25 turbochargers and a Bosch fuel injection system. It made between 440 and 500 horsepower; while having roughly the same torque; before experts from Ferrari and Lamborghini were called in to help produce an a whopping 800 hp from the mid-engine 2.2 liter. The high horsepower output was handled by a hand-built 5 speed transmission and the record speed was clocked at 195 mph. The body was a streamline 2-door coupe that was comparable to the Lamborghini, Ford GT or Ferrari. The M4S, now more commonly known as the Turbo Interceptor, was a supercar that would go on to influence car makers for years to come. The twin-turbo setup was later adopted by Porsche and Toyota.
Dodge provided the filmmakers the molds to create six exact replicas of the M4S body to create stunt and dummy cars to be used in the film. Four basic shells were created to be used in the crash and explosion scenes; while two drivable stunt cars were made for racing footage. Due to launching to 60 mph in just over four seconds and having a top speed of nearly 190 mph car, a reckless stunt driver for the movie almost died. The original car, which was so powerful had to be toned down for the sake of the filmmakers, was used for the movie’s close-up shots. Sadly, the car never went into production. The original Dodge Turbo Interceptor is now housed at the Walter P. Chrysler Museum in Auburn Hills, MI. Thankfully those old molds are being used to create kit cars; so that is our only hope of ever getting our hands on one of these beautiful supercars…unless of course you are one of the lucky people to have purchased one of the extras from the movie studio.
The Wraith movie stills attributed to New Cinema, Fair Use.
Featured Image – Dodge M4S Pace Car photo by and attributed to Joe Pappas, Fair Use.