Gallery: Loren Bruckhart’s ’69 Charger Updated with a SST 6spd & TMI Seats

Over a year ago, Mopar Connection Magazine featured Loren Bruckhart’s 528 Hemi equipped ’69 Charger R/T. At the 2021 Chrysler Nationals in Columbus, Ohio, we had the opportunity to visit with Bruckhart again, and we found out he has been busy updating the Charger in the last year.

In addition to the previously installed Reilly MotorSports (RMS) Street Lynx Triangulated four-link suspension and RMS AlterKtion k-frame, Bruckhart added a Silver Sport Transmissions Tremec T56 Magnum 6-Speed and TMI front seats.

Above Left: Originally a 440, 4-speed car, Loren Bruckhart purchased the Charger with a Hemi already nestled between the fenders. Above Right: The engine is a Ray Barton 528-cube Hemi fed via a 4500 Holley throttle body and eight sequential fuel injectors.

We will get to the updates in a moment, but first, let’s review the Ray Barton Race Engines Hemi. Barton prepped the cast-iron block, and it houses an internal stroker crank that pushes the cubic inches to 528. A set of 4340 H-beam rods move Diamond forged pistons up and down the bores. The compression ratio is a pump gas friendly 10.5:1.

ARP head studs clamp a pair of Stage V aluminum cylinder heads onto the block. The heads have stainless steel valves with Manley springs, locks, Titanium retainers, and spring cups. Bruckhart selected a custom ground Barton solid lifter camshaft with 0.667-inch intake lift, 0.646-inch exhaust lift, 283° of duration at 0.050-inch lift, and a lobe separation of 109°.

Left: The ’69 Charger hideaway headlights were one of the most attractive during the muscle car era. Center: Since we last visited with Bruckhart, he has installed a Silver Sport Transmissions Tremec 6-speed. Right: Bruckhart has RMS AlterKtion products on the front and rear of the Charger. 

A Melling high-volume oil pump sits inside a 7-quart Milodon oil pan. An MSD billet distributor, crank trigger, 6AL ignition, and spark plug wires handle the ignition chores. Lastly, a 2000 cfm Holley HP EFI throttle body sits on top of a port-matched 4500 single-plane intake manifold. Barton machined the manifold for the multi-port injection.

Now that we’ve reviewed the Hemi let’s talk about the new transmission. To replace the factory 4-speed transmission, Bruckhart selected a Silver Sport Transmissions 6-speed and all the components required to install it into the Charger. Included with the transmission was a Quick Time SFI rated bell housing, a hydraulic clutch actuator kit, speedometer gear, reverse light connector, and a needle roller pilot bearing. Also, a unique transmission cross member, a slip yoke and custom-length driveshaft, installation hardware, instructions, and a warranty were included with the kit.

Above Left: Bruckhart ordered a complete Tremec 6-speed transmission kit from Silver Sport Transmissions. Above Right: Sitting side-by-side, the Silver Sport 6-speed (bottom) is significantly larger than the factory 4-speed (top).

Although the Charger would rarely traverse the quarter-mile, Bruckhart ordered the upgraded options, including a Billet steel flywheel, a high-performance, long-life clutch package, a reproduction shifter handle, a 6-speed pattern shift ball, Cryogenic gear treatments, and a driveshaft upgrade. By the time the pallets of parts arrived, Bruckhart was ready to get to work.

To add a Tremec 6-speed into a Charger required some serious floor modifications:
1. Bruckhart used the template provided by Silver Sport to cut the floor. Not only did a section of the floor pan need to be removed but also a portion of the transmission cross member.
2. The transmission was fitted so that Bruckhart could make a poster board template for the new transmission tunnel.
3. He took the time to ensure the console would fit correctly over the template.
4. After numerous measurements, the template was transferred to sheet metal.

Above Left: Let the cutting begin. Bruckhart cut a portion of the floor and the transmission cross member in preparation for fitting in the new 6-speed. Above Right: With the transmission and bell housing installed (mocked in place), Bruckhart ensured he had removed enough metal for an interference-free fit of the transmission.

After several test fittings and some trimming, Bruckhart welded in the new sheet metal. He also made end caps for the remaining transmission cross member, which he welded to the floor pan. Once the transmission tunnel was completed and painted, Bruckhart installed the Billet flywheel in preparation for mounting the clutch and transmission.

The clutch disc and diaphragm-style pressure plate were centered to the flywheel with the included clutch alignment tool. Bruckhart spent plenty of time dialing in the bell housing; he had to install offset alignment dowels to achieve zero runout.

Left: Bruckhart bent up a cardboard template to fit around the transmission. The center console (not shown) was also test fitted over the template. Center: The template was shaped in steel and welded into the opening (underside view). End caps were also welded into place on each side of the cross member. Right: From the interior side of the transmission tunnel, Bruckhart sealed the floor after welding. He also transferred the console support bracket.

With the bell housing centered, Bruckhart installed the transmission and mounted the included cross member to the existing original cross member. The driveshaft was fitted between the transmission and the Dana 60 differential. To achieve the best driveshaft working angles (and minimize vibration), Bruckhart measured the angles with an inclinometer and adjusted them with shims at the transmission and rear end.

Top Left: Supplied with the kit was a heavy-duty Quick Time bell housing. Top Right: The transmission fits perfectly into the fabbed tunnel. The kit contained a new transmission cross member, which was attached to the existing modified cross member. Bottom Left: Bruckhart slipped the supplied driveshaft into the transmission and secured it to the Dana 60. After several driveshaft angle measurements, he used shims to dial in the working angles. Bottom Right: Bruckhart made his driveshaft loop from heavy-gauge scrap steel he had laying around the shop. 

After installing the shifter handle, console, and shifter ball and then adding Dexron trans fluid and adjusting the hydraulic clutch, it was time for a test drive. The double overdrive transmission shifted flawlessly. The low application clutch worked smoothly, and the 6-speed kept the engine RPM down at highway speeds compared to the factory 4-speed.

To enjoy the new transmission’s long-range driving capability, Bruckhart invested in a pair of TMI seats to replace the minimally padded factory front seats. The seats came with high bolsters, large wings, and more significant padding than the factory seats. In addition, Bruckhart purchased black covers and black stitching to match the Charger’s interior colors.

Top Left: A pair of TMI front seats replaced the original factory seats. The photo displays the TMI seat track mounting points are nearly identical to the stock seat. Top Right: The TMI seats offer substantial support with plenty of padding throughout the seat. Bottom Left: The TMI seat (foreground) was mounted to the seat tracks and floor pan as though it was a seat designed for the Charger. Bottom Right: The seats look contemporary without losing the muscle car vibe. The TMI seats provide plenty of support and are comfortable when on an extended cruise. 

The factory seat tracks were transferred from the original seats to the TMI units to maintain the seat location in the Charger. Since the installation, Bruckhart and his wife, Dana, have enjoyed the more comfortable seats on their weekend long-distance drives.

Nobody knows what the next year will bring. Still, with the latest TMI and Silver Sport Transmissions installations along with the RMS suspension and the Hemi, we can rest assured that during that time, Bruckhart will add even more performance parts to his ’69 Charger.


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Chris Holley

Technical Contributor Chris has been a college professor for 25 years; at Pennsylvania College of Technology in Williamsport, PA. for the last 20 years. Chris instructs automotive classes in HVAC, electrical/electronics, and high-performance, including using a chassis dyno, flow benches, and various machining equipment. Recently, he added a vintage vehicle upholstery class to his teaching assignments. Chris owns a '67 Dart, a '75 Dart, a '06 Charger, and a '12 Cummins turbo diesel Ram, and he is a multi-time track champion (drag racing) with his '69 340 Dart, which he has owned for 34 years.

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