Classic Meets Crazy: Bumbera’s Performance’s Hellcat-Swapped ’69 Dodge Charger


When Dodge and SRT announced the Hellcat Challenger and Charger models a few years back, we knew it wouldn’t be long before people started wrecking them and that monster 6.2L Supercharged Hemi would be plucked out and find it’s way into a classic Mopar. Over the couple of years since their release, Hellcat drive-trains have found their way into a wide variety of vehicles. While most swaps have been with classic Mopars, we’ve seen a few unique creations such as a Hellcat powered Jeep Wrangler, a Hellcat powered AMC Gremlin and even a Hellcat powered Toyota Prius! Yes, you read that right. 707 horsepower of supercharged Hemi crammed into a Prius.

When a special client reached out to Bumbera’s Performance of Katy, Texas to build their dream Hellcat swapped ’69 Charger for them, owner Kenny Bumbera and crew knew they had to approach the project in just the right way. Usually when a project like this is built, the builder will cut the entire top off of a modern vehicle such as a wrecked SRT Challenger or Charger and place the shell of a classic Mopar on top of it, leaving not much of the classic itself. Besides a very basic outer shell, everything else is the modern vehicle.

Bumbera’s Performance didn’t want to go that route though. It had to be done differently. The goal was to keep the vintage feel and look of the 1969 but stuff all of the technology of a 2015 into it; not stuff the vintage look onto the new technology. “We weren’t going to shortcut it; that’s not our style” says fabricator Dave. Owner Kenny Bumbera continues to say, “Other people have done swaps by taking a 2015 bottom and putting a 1969 body on top of it which is one way to do it. Putting a 2015 motor into a 1969 body; that’s true. That’s what you want to do”.

First, they needed two major items; a ’69 Charger and a Hellcat drive-train. A very clean copper colored ’69 was located and brought to the shop. From there, the folks at Bumbera’s Performance reached out to Cleveland Power & Performance for the Hellcat drive-train. If you haven’t heard of them, Cleveland Power & Performance is the leading source for everything Hellcat. Having parted out over 50 wrecked Hellcat Challenger and Chargers, they proudly sell a product they call a “Turn-Key Pallet”.

These pallets feature a complete running Hellcat drive-train package that includes the engine, transmission, engine accessories, engine wiring harness, engine computer, fuse boxes, body control module, gauge cluster, pedal assembly, fuel tank, catalytic converters, intercooler, transmission cooler, radiator, coolant overflow bottles, cooling fans, shifter, steeling wheel, steering column, dash wiring harness, body wiring harness, 8.4″ Touchscreen radio, all of the modules needed to run the car and of course, the red and black key fobs. These pallets come to you with literally everything you need to put a Hellcat drive-train into practically anything. While they also sell 6.1L and 6.4L Hemi turn-key pallets as well, the Hellcat ones seem to be their top sellers. Each and every part is inspected before it’s put on the pallet and it all comes with a six month warranty!

Once they had the Charger and the Hellcat drive-train, it was time to mate them together. “We happily agreed to make their dream a reality but little did we know that what we were trying to do had never been done before,” says Kenny. The exterior paint on the car was in fantastic shape but the engine bay and underside needed to be re-done. Before doing any paint work, the guys installed the engine into the Charger using a Magnum Force engine cradle. The plan was to figure out how to wire it all, and of course make sure everything worked. If it didn’t, then paint would be the last of their concerns. They also did it this way to avoid the risk of damaging the paint while trying to figure out how to wire the whole car.

The guys started by laying almost 12 miles combined of Hellcat wiring harnesses out on the floor and labeling each and every wire. After they got everything figured out, they took it all apart. With the hardest part being the wiring completed, the engine bay and underside of the Charger was sprayed in fresh copper paint to match the exterior. Once the paint was completed, re-assembly begun. “By this point, the guys had already done it once before so they already knew where and how everything fit together”, says Bumbera’s Performance.

To help handle the horsepower, the crew installed a Moser 9″ rear end, Wilwood brakes (Six Piston Forged Calipers in the front and Four Piston in the rear) with drilled and slotted rotors and Magnum Force coil-over suspension. To keep the old school look and feel the client wanted, American Racing Vintage 515 wheels (18×10 Rear and 18×9 Front) were installed. A custom fabricated exhaust with Magnaflow mufflers lets that Hellcat Hemi roar.

The Charger also features quite a few custom fabricated one-off pieces such as the front core support cover. If you look closely at the front end, you’ll see a custom lower grille. When the Hellcat radiator was installed, the crew noticed it hung down past the bottom of the bumper and stuck out too much to the eye, so they fabricated the custom grille below the front licence plate to hide the radiator, intercooler and A/C condenser.

Kenny says, “We integrated the entire Hellcat dash along with the steering wheel, center console and the paddle shifters with the 8 speed automatic. That’s what the gentleman wanted and it’s the best way. It’s easy to put a standard transmission with the Hellcat engine. They make a wiring diagram for it and the wiring harnesses but we had to go through the originals and make our own for the car. Getting the electronics wired up and functional in this car was no easy feat. Back in 1969, they obviously didn’t have key fobs, paddle shifters, or touch screens so we knew that it would be a challenge.”

'69 Hellcat: Remote Start & Push Button Start

Here's the remote start and push button start in action on the '69 Hellcat! You can also hear the Hellcat engine rumble 👍

Posted by Bumbera's Performance on Tuesday, July 10, 2018

“I’m really proud of that just for the fact that nobody else has done it. It’s a one of kind and that’s something big to say on that” says wiring expert Zach. The completed results are absolutely stunning and something Bumbera’s Performance proudly calls ‘A True Hellcat Swap’. Everything in the car is 100% functional including the entire dash, remote start, the 8.4″ Touch screen radio and A/C! This Charger truly has all of the comforts of a modern day Hellcat but holds the true feeling of an old school Mopar. Dave says, “It’s a one of a kind. People have done it by putting an old body on a new chassis but this is full blown ’69 Charger with all of the new stuff.”

“We reached out to a lot of people for this build and they asked us if we were crazy. They said “you’re nuts. You can’t get it done. The feat hasn’t been done so y’all ain’t gonna get it done.” I turned to my guys and said well, alright we are on our own and they just went after it. When I started the car for the first time with the push start and then started to drive it, I was going down the road and I couldn’t help but think that my guys were really something and I have such a great crew. They exceeded my expectations” says Kenny. In closing, shop manager Sean says, “We did something that they told us we couldn’t do. We really want to thank the guys that said we couldn’t do it. It pushed us to do it and we did it.”

Photography provided by Bumbera’s Performance.

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Cody Cole

Associate/ Car Feature Editor – cody.cole@shawgroupmedia.com Since the age of 4, Cody has been obsessed with everything Mopar. On Christmas of 1998, Cody's parents gave him a rusty '69 Charger shell that his father saved from a field. Cody's garage still features that '69 Charger as well as the additions of a '70 Coronet, '71 Charger R/T, '71 Road Runner, '04 SRT-4, '06 Grand Cherokee SRT8, '08 Challenger SRT8 and a '17 Ram 1500 Rebel. Cody can truly and proudly say him and his wife are true Mopar nuts in love with all types of Mopars!

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