Back in 2011, former client John C. brought back a car that had been previously painted at Killer Paint. The 2005 Dodge Magnum, dubbed “Black Cherry.” This car was unique in that it was painted red, but with black true fire, when it is typically the other way around.

Black Cherry Magnum Driver's Side View- Killer Paint Black Cherry Magnum Front View- Killer Paint

This time though, he wanted to do the paint on this car entirely over for a good cause. Working with the Big Cat Rescue organization in Tampa, FL, the “Black Cherry” would be transformed into a tribute vehicle, bringing awareness to their cause:

31765“Big Cat Rescue, one of the world’s largest accredited sanctuaries for exotic cats, is a leading advocate in ending the abuse of captive big cats and saving wild cats from extinction.  We are home to about 80 lions, tigers, bobcats, cougars, servals and other species most of whom have been abandoned, abused, orphaned, saved from being turned into fur coats, or retired from performing acts” from

The Magnum was getting a bumper-to-bumper repaint. This time, the artwork would be much more ambitious, with cat portraits, texture effects, True Fire flames and more…

“Cat’s Roar” Magnum

The starting basecoat color is a favorite custom recipe of Mike’s, which is a deep, reddish-brown pearl. The paint gradually transitions darker and darker, all the way to black on the rear end. Mike used his Grunge FX™ spray mask to create multiple layers of subtle texture all over the car. He added multiple sets of cracks, with flames erupting from them in places. Larger True Fire™ flames roll off of the front wheel wells and down the sides, into the murals on the sides.

Cats Roar Magnum

IMG_1342BWhile the name Mike Lavallee is most often associated with the True Fire™ technique, not many people are aware that wildlife artwork has been one of his specialties for most of his career as an artist.

The driver’s side door murals are of Big Cat rescue residents Joseph the Lion and Sasha the Lioness sitting together, wreathed in the trailing flames from the front of the car. (click to enlarge)


On the other side, also surrounded in flames, is the portrait of an intense, aggresive-looking Sundari the Leopard on the passenger-side doors.

Sundari is also a resident at the Big Cat Rescue habitat. This leopard’s spots gradually trail off along with the flames that weave in and out of them, and merge into the darker background color toward the back end of the car. (click to enlarge)

Prominently displayed on the hood is a stylized lion’s head, made to look like a stone sculpture. Flames roll out of its mouth and from the cracks in the background, creating something of a ring of fire around it.


269906_10150298648130605_2548347_n2Under the hood, the engine cover got the custom treatment as well.

It got the same base pearl brown base coat and dark fade. Layered texture and cracks were added too, matching the color scheme on the exterior of this project.

True Fire™ flames were added, rolling off of the front edge, and the raised “HEMI” badges on either side got some extra shading and a faux stone texture with cracks to make them really stand out. (click to enlarge)

Finally, on the backside of this Magnum is a portrait of the black leopard Adonis, the last Big Cat Rescue animal pictured on this car. This guy has a rich golden glow behind him, to make sure he stands out from the dark background on the Magnum’s rear end.


This project wasn’t only about a body repaint, though. Many sponsors would contribute more modifications and upgrades once it left the shop here at Killer Paint. The Cat’s Roar sponsors logos were added to the rear window in metallic charcoal vinyl graphics.

The new Morpheus wheels from sponsor Diablo USA were sent to the shop here at Killer Paint though, so that they could a little extra custom touch before they were put on the newly rechristened car. The inserts were removed, and given a fade and Grunge FX™ treatment to match the body of the car.


Once complete, it toured over 56 countries, and made a number of car show appearances, not least of which was its 2011 SEMA Show appearance in Las Vegas. The “Cat’s Roar” also won over seventeen 2011/2012 First Place or Best of Class awards along the way, including:

  • Awards
    Best paint, Show Stoppers, July 2011
    Best Paint and 2nd in class, Verizon Extreme Autofest, 2011
    Best Murals, Show Stoppers, 2011
    Fabulous Flames, Good Guys, 2011
    Best in Class, Monterey Bay Mopars, 2011
    Top 20, VIP Spring Fest 07, 2012

On August 17th, 2012, the car was put up for auction as part of the prestigious Mecum Muscle Cars & More Auction in Monterey, CA, with half of the proceeds donated back to the Big Cat Rescue organization. This Magnum was designated “Star” status, which meant its sale was broadcast live on Discovery’s Velocity Network.

We hope you enjoyed seeing the transformation of this Dodge Magnum from one custom to another. If there is anything you would like to see us post about here in the future, please let us know in the comments.


Maybe this project gave you some ideas, or you already have an idea in mind for your own car, truck, motorcycle, refrigerator, etc?

If you would like to contact Killer Paint about working on your own project, visit our website, or contact us at

Related Links:

The Original Killer Paint Facebook Page:

The Official Killer Paint Website:

Killer Paint’s “True Fire™ Basics” Blog Series:

Killer Grunge FX™ Spray at Coast Airbrush:

True Fire™ Instructional DVDs:
The Secrets of Airbrushing True Fire™ – Part 1
The Secrets of Airbrushing True Fire™ – Part 2

Cat’s Roar Magnum Facebook Page:

Big Cat Rescue Website:

Big Cat Rescue on Facebook

Auction feature page at Mecum (more photos):