Regarding The Cars You Are About To Cut...
The details about the various Smyth donor cars:
Dodge Charger 2005-10
Dodge Charger 2011-23
Chrysler 300 2011-23
VW New Beetle 1998-10
VW Jetta MK4 1999-04
VW Jetta MK5 2005-10
VW Jetta MK6 2011-18
Jeep Grand Cherokee WJ 1999-04
Car guys and gals are encyclopedias on the details of the cars they fix and enjoy. Eventually, if you are like me and have been tinkering with cars since childhood, you usually start to focus on a favorite model or a brand or two. Even a lifelong car enthusiast doesn’t know about all the great engines/drivetrains/suspensions out there. So what donor car models does Smyth Performance use for our car-truck kit conversions?
It started with VWs. Smyth Performance began as I was in the process of selling my beloved Factory Five Racing to my brother, Dave. I went deep into diesel power for both boats and cars back in 2007 which folded into working on the terrific little VW Jetta diesels. This first mk4 Jetta TDI in ‘07 led me back to VW based cars. I say ‘back’ because I started my car journey at 15 years old with a few air cooled 1960’s VW Beetles.
So here we are in 2024. I find myself helping guys like me learn about new brands of cars that we use to make great trucks with our kit added. I have a story of my start with each of the cars we base our kits on.
Charger/300 as a Donor Car
As far as Mopar cars such as the Charger and 300 I can safely say that I am a new fan of all things Hemi(and Chrysler V6 btw). I was a 60’s Hemi guy before the design of the Smyth Charger Ute…I had a perfect 1968 silver Hemi 4 speed original car for years in the garage and did not know much about the ‘modern hemi’.
The modern Charger/300 details are fairly simple. The car is a wonderful platform that has literally had a 20 year run as the foundation of the 300 and Charger cars since 2004. It has a robust big rear center section with a wonderful independent rear suspension instead of a live axle. Combined with a multi link independent front end the cars handle way better than a 4000+ car should. The modern Hemi in all its configurations since 2004 has put out amazing V8 power that starts at 340 hp and goes all the way to 1025 hp from the factory! No wonder the Mopar aftermarket is exploding with new products for this platform. A 20 year run, wild performance to start with and literally millions of cars on the road with the same basic design…just wow. Ford 5.0 stuff went crazy in the late eighties, GM LS V8 swaps became quite a business in the 90’s and 2000’s…and now we see the hemis starting a wild ride in the huge performance aftermarket.
All modern Mopars take a bit of learning if you are starting from scratch. These heads are deep breathing high revving mills that are good for 400k miles when taken care of…but you do have to change oil and listen for the MDS lifter ‘tick’ on higher mileage cars. Like any modern performance engine, morons find out after 180k miles of abuse that a new cam and lifters when ignored with 20k oil change intervals are rewarded with a nice bill.
Even neglected cars are easy to work on and the tough engine/trans/rear end are amazingly reliable under even police interceptor duty. Like all late model Mopars from caravans to hellcats you will learn over time how to watch for key fob receivers on the dash and small computer and peripheral controllers that may go bad over the years. A good computer scanner for 150 bucks is your best friend.
What is MDS
Variable valve timing 2009 on…
Special editions and engines (SRT8/Super Bee, Scat Pack, Hellcat)
Both the 5 speed ZF transmissions and the later 8 speed boxes are really robust. The early 5 speed unit was even used on the 600hp twin turbo V12 Mercedes S65 and SL65 rocket sleds. All in all I think these Chargers and 300 provide one of the best performance car values in the world…and they look incredible as Smyth Utes. Winning!
VW and Jeep sections to follow every few days…