A few months ago I was approached by US Truck Sales on our Instagram page for 5thGenRams. They were looking for some information on the all new 2019 Ram 1500. During our conversation they mentioned that they have been building HELLCAT powered Rebel TRX replicas and some cool other builds. I asked them if they would send me a little write-up about themselves and their builds. This is what Thinus De Beer from US Truck Sales had to say:
“We specialize in changing the Rams over to right-hand drive and back in 2005 we basically started the business because I really badly wanted an SRT-10 Viper truck for myself and figured if we sold a couple in South Africa I could save a little on my own truck.
Since then we have changed more than 300 trucks over to right-hand drive.
A big spinoff from this business was obviously that each new owner wanted to individualise their trucks and we started customizing vehicles with lift kits, suspensions, body kits, and engine and drivetrain mods. We also realized in 2012 when Ram Trucks released the RAM 392 (the 2012 Ram Urban Concept) concept truck that a lot of the previous SRT-10 owners was pretty hungry for a performance version of the RAMS and we decided to start with our own SRT version by fitting SRT-8 crate motors into the Rams for customers. The package not only included the engine but we upgraded the brakes by fitting bigger front rotors and calipers supplied by SSBC. The exhaust system also gets a custom set of headers and 76mm exhaust system. We had to remove the speed limiter on the vehicle and this was done with Diablo’s products, also allowing us to load custom software for the 6.4-liter Engine.
The trucks worked very well as the truck still looked OEM and everything functioned like it should. It became a very popular option as it made the trucks lighter on fuel and added quite a bit of power. We then built a few special regular cabs that had some additional work done to the crate motors supplied by Modern Muscle. These had camshafts, flowed heads, Mahle Pistons and valvetrain to match and produced quite a lot of power. With the 8-speed 8HP70 transmissions these trucks would outrun a stock SRT-10 with ease and yet made the trucks fun to drive and very much everyday drivers.
Then came the HELLCAT cars and I often wondered if it would be possible to fit the HELLCAT motor to the RAM. Finding a HELLCAT motor proved to be quite a problem however and in the beginning any HELLCAT wrecks were scooped up very quick and prices for HELLCAT drivetrains would be as much as $35,000, making it simply too expensive. Then during 2017 Dave Weber from Modern Muscle advised that he could help with a Hellcrate motor and we decided that we should pull the trigger on this build…
The crate motor arrived on April 5th, 2017 and it was quite exciting to uncrate that and see that emblem on the supercharger! We did not have the privilege to drive HELLCAT powered cars in South Africa so it was the first time we got to see it up close and personal. The truck that we were going to fit it into arrived on April 10th, 2017 and we could finally start with the process.
Since we had done quite a few 6.4-liter swaps it was not a huge problem getting the engine fitted. The block is exactly the same and we fit the motors using OEM mounts and on the first truck also used the stock 8HP70 transmission so mating the engine and transmission was straightforward. There was some clearance issues with the supercharger cooling system pipes and we had to re-engineer some fittings.
There are some obvious changes that had to be made and we used a HELLCAT PCM that had to be reprogrammed to work in the RAM as well as some changes to the wiring and programming of other modules in the truck.
The truck pretty much fired up on the first try, but we still did quite a bit of development work on the supplementary cooling system for the supercharger.
Then RAM released the TRX concept and we had so many requests for this truck that we simply had to attempt this build.
We first built a used, accident damaged truck as it needed a suspension and a stack of body panels anyway. The truck really looked awesome and the Dirt King Fabrication suspension worked really well.
Obviously we had to combine these trucks… we had to build a TRX replica with HELLCAT power. We did the first white one and it was absolutely stunning but the truck still limited the engine power because of the transmission limiting the torque output at full throttle. The second truck we built we decided to mate the transfer case to the 8HP90 transmission from a HELLCAT powered car. This made a huge difference and the truck really performs well.
So that is basically the short version of how the HELLCAT powered Rams came to life. We have had something like 147,000 views on one of the videos on YouTube and we have had some really positive comments on the trucks.
I think it will be very popular when FCA finally builds the real one, but they must not limit the HP!!!
I’d like to thank Thinus for sending the information and photos over. They are doing some really cool stuff down there, make sure you check out their website and YouTube channel for more.