One thing we can all agree on is in the automotive community, customization plays a big role. Some people might not like what you have done and others might think it is a masterpiece. That is the wonderful thing about customizing your vehicle the way you want it. This is exactly what Thomas Childers has done with his 2007 Dodge Charger SRT8 Super Bee.
Thomas was on the edge of retirement and has always wanted a Holden UTE. If you do not know, Holden is the Australian subsidiary to General Motors. Holden makes a lot of similar cars to what is released here in the United States. The UTE is one that GM never brought stateside.
A UTE is a term used in Australia and New Zealand to describe vehicles with a bed behind the passenger compartment. In the United States we have seen a couple of these UTEs over the years, but by far the most popular is the Chevrolet El Camino.
The problem Thomas ran into, besides it not being a Mopar, is the cost to import one here. With taxes, fees, and shipping, plus the cost of the vehicle, it was not in the budget. So, Thomas started searching for a different vehicle that he did not need to import.
While searching the internet, Thomas found a company called Smyth Performance out of Massachusetts that turns any 2006-2010 Dodge Charger into a UTE. Thomas thought, “A HEMI and a truck bed, why not!”. We agree the Charger is much better platform than Holden.
Thomas was sold on the idea and started to research what Charger he wanted to use for the conversion. At first he thought about finding a retired police cruiser since they could be picked up fairly cheap.
Although not exactly what Thomas preferred, the police Charger would be a little easier on the budget. Thomas’s wife did not like the idea. Not that she did not want the UTE, she wanted Thomas to buy the Charger he really wanted since it was going to be his last big car build.
Back to the computer went Thomas to seek out exactly what Charger would be best. Thomas really wanted the car to perform once the conversion was done, so what better Charger than a SRT8 model. The Charger SRT8 came with the 6.1 HEMI, big Brembo brakes, SRT suspension, 180 mph speedometer, nicer interior, and more.
When Thomas seen they made a Charger SRT8 Super Bee, he knew that was what he wanted. It took Thomas over six months to finally find a Charger SRT8 Super Bee that fit the bill. The Super Bee was found in Florida. There were no worries about undercarriage rust issues but, the paint had been faded badly from 13 years in the Florida sun.
The paint was faded so bad the roof had started to rust. Luckily whoever had the Suer Bee previously used limo tint on the windows to help with the Florida sun and saved the interior from sun damage. Thomas said the interior was like new. This was a perfect fit because the Super Bee would need painted after the UTE conversion anyway.
Thomas and his wife set decided to take a vacation and look at the car. The car checked out and they purchased it while on vacation and had it shipped back home to North Carolina.
When the car made it back home, Thomas drove it for two days and then started the tear down. The UTE kit from Smyth Performance is just body work. The suspension, chassis or electrical system is altered in any way.
The body is cut from the B-pillar back and you install the pieces. The kit does not require any welding; just bolts, pop rivets and panel bond. Thomas mentioned, “It is quite amazing how everything fit and went together.”
The conversion took 70 hours to complete. A little under 2 weeks and Scott Bagshaw had the conversion done, even with Thomas getting in his way. Paint and final body work actually took longer than the conversion itself. Majority of the car was taken to bare metal before the body work could start.
The guys at Brother’s Custom Garage did all the paint and body work. Thomas was very pleased with their work. The final product was amazing and exactly what Thomas had pictured in his head. They were able to match up the body lines and made the whole conversion look like it rolled right out of Dodge’s showroom.
With the Super Bee UTE completed, the real fun has started. Thomas did not build the Super Bee UTE to look pretty and sit around shows. Thomas and his wife drive the tires off the Super Bee UTE. They have put over 16,000 miles on it since completion.
Thomas has completed the Hot Rod Power Tour in 2021, attended Carlisle Chrysler Nationals (where it took third in class and two Celebrity Choice Awards) and the Carlisle Truck Nationals (where it took second in class). Thomas has also attended Cars and Cones twice. Cars and Cones is sorta like Power Tour but each stop there is an autocross event.
They have take the Super Bee UTE to Holley’s MoParty event every year so far and have won a special show award and competed in the autocross event. They also regularly attend local shows and Cars and Coffee events too.
If you have missed Thomas and his Super Bee UTE at any of these events previously, they are making their rounds again this year. They will be attending the Hot Rod Power Tour this month, Carlisle Truck Nationals in August and then Holley MoParty in September.