Gabe Martinez 2012 Dodge Challenger

In Warfighter Projects by Robert Blanton

Gabe Martinez USMC (ret.) 2012 Dodge Challenger R/T

Warfighter Made became aware of Gabe, who lost both legs while serving as a Marine Combat Engineer in Afghanistan, 2010, when our friends at Magnuson Superchargers contacted us, saying they were contacted by Gabe, who was looking for a supercharger for his Challenger with a 5.7 Hemi. Magnusondidn’t make one, but knowing Gabe was in the process of building out his car, they thought it would be a good fit for Warfighter Made.

We linked up with Gabe and brought him out to a therapy trip to get to know him better and understand what goals he had with his Challenger. Gabe’s idea was to create a fun, easy to drive vehicle, that when he mashed the peddle, you knew you were driving something special. A plan was set and we forecasted the build out for some time in the coming year.
A few months later we get a call from Gabe, saying that rabbit’shad crawled into his engine compartment and chewed through some of the wires. He took it to the dealership and they wanted $2300 to fix it. We told him to get his car back and we’d drive to Colorado to pick it up. There is no way we’d let him pay that amount of money. He said he had to come to California anyway to see his prosthetist and if we were serious, he’d bring the car to us.

A week later Gabe drops the car off at Warfighter Made and the very next day, the car is running 100%, with about three hours of work and $6 dollars in material.

When Gabe delivered the car, he had a brand new BorlaExhaust, with long tube headers still in the box and wanted to know if we could install it. At the time, Warfighter Made didn’t have a car lift, so we called up the veteran owned shop “Resto Rods” in Temecula and they let us use their lift at no charge. Veterans helping veterans…helping veterans. Love it! We installed the exhaust in a day and brought it back to WFM.

There was one thing we REALLY wanted to do to Gabe’s car and that was SUPERCHARGE it! After some searching we found a few different options available, but it seemed like nomanufactures wanted to help us out. I think everyone was a little freaked out about donating a supercharger to a guy who had no legs, and the liability that may go along with it. Then we were put in contact with Brian at Superchargers Online and he made us a deal on a Whipple, we couldn’t refuse.

Installing the Whipple was straight forward. Once the supercharger was installed, we took the car to Cunningham Motorsports in Murrieta, CA. and they dyno tuned the car. A stock 5.7 Challenger makes somewhere around 360 hp at the crank. With the Whipple supercharger, full Borla exhaust, upgraded injectors and a Cunningham tune, the car now made well over 400 hp to the rear wheels.

With all that power, we wanted to make sure Gabe’s car handle well, so Eibach Suspension made us a deal on their Pro System Plus kit, special tuned for the Dodge Challenger. This kit included shocks, struts, springs and sway bars, and lowered the car 1.5” in the front and almost 2” in the rear.

Now that the car handled well, our next stop (pun intended) was to Power Stop Brakes, that outfitted Gabe’s Challenger with new red powder coated calipers, high performance pads and drilled and slotted rotors.

When Gabe’s car was delivered to us, we did a quick walk around and noticed a small, linear dent in the driver side quarter panel. When we inquired about it, Gabe said his wife had accidently backed into his car. We decided we couldn’t have this bad ass car with dent in it, so we called up our buddy Noel at Exclusive Auto Body Customs in Temecula, CA and had them repair the dent.

Now, Gabe’s Challenger is almost a total package, but in our opinion, sometimes you just want to blast your favorite song while cruising down the road, so our family at Kicker sent us their Vehicle Specific Solutions kit for the Challenger, which is a plug and play system that includes their powered L7 10” Sub.

Army vet Julio Rios, with his company SRT Creations, came down and installed Diode Dynamics L.E.D. rings around the head lights and in the projectors, which allows Gabe to select a color for his head lights while parked, to reflect whatever mood he’s feeling. Next we replaced all lubricants with Lucas Oil, and added KMC wheels and new tires to really set the look of the car off. Lastly we had Supreme Detailing come down and get the Challenger all shined up before we did a big reveal party, surprising Gabe.

We had a great event. The local High School, Navy ROTC color guard came and presented the American Flag during the National Anthem, and we had car and bike clubs from the local area show up, to support Warfighter Made and Gabe during the event. The car was presented, eyes leaked, and Gabe took his car out and did a big burnout in his updated Challenger.

During a video documentation of the reveal, Gabe, after letting off the gas after putting it to the floor, said….

“This is what freedom feels like!”