High-Speed Hellcat Transformation
Words: Cam Benty; Photos: Mike Beavers, Brandon Flannery
Hellcat Challengers and Chargers reset the bar for muscle car performance in America. Not even during the height of the original muscle car era did a production vehicle ever come with a rating of more than 700 hp or run a true 12-second quarter mile timing. Check the record books — that’s a fact.
So, when Mike Beavers of BWoody Performance told us he was in the regular practice of taking Hellcats up to the 1,000-hp mark, we were curious how that came together. What locked us down to follow his efforts was when he noted he was about to make the transformation in only five days. What sounded more like a scenario for a poorly conceived TV show was to become Mike Beavers and his team’s reality, the Hellcat metamorphosis his brave new world.
BWoody Performance is well known for selling a wide assortment of custom performance components, as well as having a full-service shop manned by some highly talented technicians to complete just any transformation. For those reasons, it’s not surprising they are in demand for modifications that take both Hellcats and their Mopar “cousins” to rarely seen levels. So, when John Perry from Memphis decided he was not fully satisfied with only a run-of-the-mill 707-hp Hellcat Charger, his first call was to BWoody.
This is not the first time around for John Perry, who has had a number of high-performance vehicles in the past. With a flair for the unusual, Perry built a 557c.i.-powered blown big-block that pushes his classic Ford Edsel to 9.50-second quarter miles. But that super fast race car, while a fun toy to wow friends and family, was not practical for driving around town. The interest in the Charger Hellcat is not only for its awesome power, but reliability.
“I bought the car in Jasper, Alabama, since none were available in my area,” says Perry. “I wanted a car that I could drive to California if I wanted to, yet have that big horsepower under the hood. When I heard about BWoody, it was a natural tendency to want even more from the Hellcat. One thousand horsepower became the target.”
BWoody Motorsports owner Mike Beavers has spent as much time as anyone looking at ways to increase the power of these already massive power machines, figuring out how to break the code and unleash even great potential from these complex vehicles. Ask anyone who works on Chrysler products, and they will be quick to note everything is technologically interconnected — so, you change one things and something else might be terminally disconnected.
“We found that everything you do on these cars can cause additional challenges,” says Beavers. “We remove a lot of parts on these cars to make room for supercharger upgrades and heat exchangers. Something as simple as removing the passenger seat or unplugging the windshield wiper motor will cause the electrical system to not fire the ignition, even though it would seem like these things would be totally unconnected.”
The initial discussions between John and Beavers went well, with the decision made to come as close to the 1,000-hp mark with a 75 shot of nitrous, but also be able to run on 93 octane pump fuel in daily use, accompanied by water methanol injection. No problem. Oh, and by the way, it all needed to happen within a week.
BWoody Motorsports took the challenge.
The initial plan was to drive the car from John’s Memphis home to BWoody in Maryland, arriving on Sunday. Not long after the initial discussion, John considered having his wife make the drive for him, since she had family in the Maryland area. John was concerned she might be overwhelmed by the power, so he took care getting the “red” power key (Hellcats come with two keys — a valet key that delivers reduced power and one for the full 707 hp) up to Maryland. Its mere presence in the car is enough to fire up the Hellcat’s full potential.
So with the key wrapped in three layers of aluminum foil, the car was gassed up and about to head to Maryland — until things changed and Perry decided to drive the car at full power the full 1,000 miles, at great rates of speed, just for testing purposes, of course.
The trickiest element of the transformation was the much-discussed reprogramming that was to conclude the week’s efforts. Eric Eldreth, owner of nearby ID Motorsports, uses SCT programming to find the sweet spot for performance and make sure all systems were ready to go when John drove the car home. The original plan was to complete this tuning on Saturday, giving a full five days for the building elements.
A family conflict for Eldreth changed all that and moved the dyno and programming efforts from Saturday to Friday, taking an already tight schedule requiring plenty of overnight thrashing to higher stress levels. Not to tell the ending before the story, but the deadline was met. Beavers got the car to the dyno early Friday, and John headed back home Saturday morning.
Beginning at 8 a.m. sharp, the BWoody technicians started attacking the car from the front and working to the back of the car.
• Removal of the inner fender liners.
• Removal of the front fascia — required to access the heat exchangers
• Removed cowl and wiper to access supercharger snout
• Swap out factory driver’s side heat exchanger for dual, more efficient heat exchangers with fans
• Remove the factory supercharger from the top of the engine
• Remove factory injectors for high flow units
• Change out supercharger drive pulley for increased pressure to 18 psi
• Disassembled supercharger snout
• Install new Medco supercharger overdrive pulley
• Install 1000cc Injector Dynamics fuel injectors
• Route nitrous lines under supercharger
• Reinstall supercharger
• Mount nitrous solenoids on fuel/nitrous lines
• Stock cooling pump relocated
• BWoody Performance TRUE cold air intake installed (yes it’s possible)
• Switched to under-vehicle chassis work
• Removed factory exhaust
• Installed Driveshaft Shop aluminum driveshaft capable of handling 1,000+ hp
• Removed rear suspension and differential cradle
• Installed 3.09:1 gearing
• Installed high-performance Spohn control arms
• Installed 1,400-hp Driveshaft Shop axles
• Install Solo Performance race exhaust, including race mid-pipes
• Cut down rear bump stop to provide more suspension travel and compliance
• Completed nitrous lines and mounted tank
• Installed wiring for Devils Own water methanol kit
• Reinstalled front fascia and wiper/cowl
• Filled fluids and tested for leaks
• Called Eric to confirm we would be there early Friday for dyno and tuning!
• Using SCT programming, the tuning was completed by ID Motorsports
• To program system, a new PCM is used and coded with new tuning
• PCM is coded to current mileage and VIN for car to keep it legal
• Used FUSE Fuels Accelerator Fuel Treatment for general driving
• Fuse Ignitor 116-octane race fuel used for nitrous tests
• Dyno tests performed in fifth gear for best efficiency
BWOODY HIGH SPEED HELLCAT TRANSFORMATION CREW
Michael Beavers (shop owner)
Eric Eldreth (ID Motorsports)
In review, the work was completed in less than the time allotted, with after hours thrashing to make the insane deadline. Except for a slightly out of balance driveshaft and a leaking fuel line on the nitrous system, due to overtightening, the vehicle sailed to Memphis without note. Today, the black Hellcat prowls the streets of the home of the Blues, handing out beatings to all who challenge its abilities. So, if you decide to test power of Perry’s Mopar, your race strategy should come down to three words: Pray for Rain!
Sources: BWoody Performance, Bwoodyperformance.com; Devils Own Methanol, alcohol-injection.com; The Drive Shaft Shop, driveshaftshop.com; Fuse Fuels, fusefuels.com; ID Motorsports, id-motorsports.com; Injector Dynamics, injectordynamics.com; Nitrous Express, nitrousexpress.com; SCT Tuners, sctflash.com; Solo Exhaust, solo-performance.com; Spohn Performance, spohn.net