Kevin Hart’s cars are almost as famous as the actor and comedian himself. (Hart and his Plastic Cup Boyz are the stars of our own MT Series Kevin Hart’s Muscle Car Crew, as well.) There is, of course, the infamous SpeedKore-built ’70 Cuda that was involved in an unfortunate accident, but more recently (and happily) Hart took possession of a Halloween-themed ’69 Plymouth Roadrunner done up by Salvaggio Design. That same outfit is behind the latest Hart acquisition—a 1987 Buick Grand National with a Gotham twist.
Dubbed “Dark Knight,” the inspiration for the build isn’t hard to figure out. Black is the predominant mood of the Buick, but there are blue and gray accents and even bronze detailing—a thankfully subtle nod to Batman’s costume and utility belt. The build is not a Batmobile, per se—Hart wanted a theme rather than an homage, and it’s mission accomplished. The Dark Knight is a super clean interpretation of the Grand National restormod trend, lowered slightly on HRE basket-weave wheels, enhancing the menace of the original with a more aggressive stance.
That involved some sympathetic reworking of what was already there, which is why despite appearing like a conservative build it has some serious presence. Hart already has a wide GNX, and Salvaggio’s goal was something that would stand on its own but not overshadow the other car. Take the front bumper. At a glance, you might think it’s a cleaned up version of the original. In fact, it’s a reengineered piece with functional ducting for more airflow to the upgraded motor, mocked up with a 3D-printed piece and then rendered in carbon fiber. That’s pretty much the modus operandi for the whole build, in a nutshell.
Underneath the cleaned up body, the chassis is a custom number from Salvaggio running Detroit Speed & Engineering front suspension and a DSE four-link rear with a Panhard bar. Brembo handles stopping duties, and Toyo Proxes R888R tires are wrapped around 19-inch HRE 501 wheels.
The choice under the hood is both inspired and relatively true to the original turbocharged V-6. Rather than going the LSX route, Gearhead Fabrications built a LF4 3.6-liter twin-turbo V-6 engine for the Dark Knight. You might know this engine as the beating heart of the Cadillac ATS-V. In this application, GF converted it to a single 67-mm Boost Labs turbo bolted up to custom-fabbed headers. After a lot of additional work, the motor is good on the dyne for 650 horsepower running 20 psi of boost on 103-octane gas.
It’s a very cool build that again demonstrates how nimbly Hart’s cars thread the needle between having a theme and overdoing said theme. Dark Knight looks great and probably drives better. If you were at SEMA this year, we hope you didn’t miss it.
Images courtesy of Salvaggio Design.
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