Avoiding Late Model HEMI Swap Hell

Mopar hot-rodder’s have been busting their knuckles and finding ways to make everything work for decades. From backyard do-it-yourselfers to full blown race shops alike, engine swaps have been a staple of the hotrod community for many years. Whether the reason is sentimental attachment or the vehicle just flat out needing a new motor, builders and fabricators have been finding ways to rip the heart and soul out of their car or truck to replace it with something bigger, stronger, and faster. Gone are the days of simply dropping out that small block, throwing in the big block and putting the pedal to the floor. Nowadays it takes more than a bigger carb, a few more relays, and a cowl hood to finish a swap.

We have seen many classic Mopars brought back to life by way of a late model HEMI swap. Builders are sourcing their packages in a number of ways, with the most cost effective being from a wrecked donor vehicle. Crate packages are available, but the selection of Mopar motors pales in comparison to that of the other big two domestic manufacturers. This leaves the builder with a tough choice; buy new and get nickeled and dimed till the cows come home, or search the web for a pull out.

With the advent of CAN bus systems, in-car telecommunications, and the “take it to the dealer” rhetoric, a GEN3 HEMI swap can seem like a daunting task. CAN (Controller Area Network) bus is a technology that makes modern cars lighter and less expensive to build by replacing the old school “one signal per wire” with wiring systems that can send multiple signals on the same wire. Given the immense number of sensor and computer signals that need to be communicated in a late model vehicle if every signal needed a dedicated wire we’d have wiring harnesses ten inches in diameter and cars that weighed hundreds of more pounds. CAN works sort of like an internet for your car, it allows almost limitless numbers of “nodes” (computers, sensors, switches, etc.) to communicate with each other. Now, add Bluetooth, GPS, “black box” data loggers, and all of the other electronic paraphernalia to the mix and you can begin to see how complex and interrelated all of the parts of a late model car are.

In the sea that is online sales, one’s proverbial compass can send them in circles. MoparMax is always following the latest and greatest trends in the HEMI world, and we spotted one package that separated itself from the others. Cleveland Power and Performance is a salvage yard that specializes in late model high performance domestic vehicles, and luckily for us, a large portion of the vehicles that they purchase are SRT’s. After a few minutes of exploring shop we felt like Indiana Jones stumbling upon the Holy Grail, at least of salvage yard HEMI dropouts.

Cleveland Power and Performance offers a GEN3 HEMI kit that is, for all intents and purposes, all of the “good” parts of the car. Their packages include all of the juicy HEMI meat, only leaving behind the bone, which is basically a bare shell. The turnkey package that they offer includes all of the VIN matched components that are necessary to trick the HEMI into to thinking it is still in the car, so it can run even when it is transplanted.