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'It felt like I lost a family member' | The story behind a Hampton man's Black Panther tribute car

Like so many others, the film's predominantly black cast became an inspiration for him.

HAMPTON, Va. — William Beal looked no further than his car as the canvas to honor the life and legacy of a Hollywood legend.

In 2018, Beal first saw the hit Marvel movie, "Black Panther," while overseas on active duty in South Korea.

 Like so many others, the film's predominantly black cast became an inspiration for Beal, who says it was a "beautiful feeling" to be able to connect to the actors on the screen in that way. 

"When it comes to mainstream superhero movies, it’s usually Captain America, Spiderman, a white male character. But when you have a character designed with something you resonate with, you say ‘I look like him’ that’s a beautiful feeling," he told 13News Now.

In 2020, Beal began transforming his 2016 Dodge Charger into an homage to Chadwick Boseman's T'Challa character from the movie. Months later, it was announced Boseman died unexpectedly due to complications from colon cancer. 

After his death, Beal leaned even more heavily into the idea of using his car as a canvas to honor the life of Boseman and his role as the Black Panther.

He says he's continuing to add to the car, which already sports a custom exterior wrap displaying themes from the Black Panther film, as well a matching interior, which Beal did primarily by himself. 

“When it comes to the influence of Chadwick Bosemen, that’s timeless. We all have our ways of celebrating those who impacted us," he said. 

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