Smyth Performance Charger Ute

Posted July 19, 2017

Mark Smith has made a career out of radical automotive projects. There’s a chance you haven’t heard of Smith’s latest venture, Smyth performance, but we’d be willing to bet you’ve heard of his others. Starting in the late nineties, Mark and his brother Dave Smith developed Factory Five racing into, arguably, the largest presence in the replica car industry. After Mark sold his stake in FFR, he co-founded Local Motors, a series of seriously high-tech small producers who have built everything from the LM Rally Fighter to the Dominos Pizza Ultimate Delivery Vehicle and the world’s first 3D-printed car.

While Mark has seen his fair share of high-tech projects, Smyth performance gets back to Mark’s original bread and butter, DIY car guys. Smyth started out with a ute design (a car-based light truck for us Americans) based on the VW Jetta a few years back and has seen great success. Smyth kits are designed for the DIY guy to take an affordable and/or damaged sedan and turn it into a unique utility vehicle. Well-designed aluminum bed panels and structural reinforcements strengthen the B-pillar and redistribute load to the lower portion of the chassis. Smyth claims that the new ute is more rigid and has superior side-impact strength over the original sedan.

Recently, Smyth Performance has added a few new models to its lineup, including Audi A4/S4 and Dodge Charger ute kits. You’ll see more on the Audi version in an upcoming issue of ReinCarNation, but for now, let me tell you why the Smyth Charger Ute is awesome.

Charger Ute 3

The Charger Ute isn’t just a cool idea to transform an aging four-door sedan; it’s an affordable V8 ute option that hasn’t really existed in the U.S. since the days of cheap El Caminos. And talk about a perfect vehicle platform. The LX platform Charger has been around since 2005 and can be found in rear-wheel, and all-wheel drive configurations. Run a quick Craigslist search and you're sure to find several V8 cars close by for $6,000 or less. Keep an eye out for the 390+ hp 5.7-liter Hemi cars and retired squad cars, as these cars have upgraded braking, cooling and heavy-duty suspension parts.

What’s the final product like? While we haven’t sat behind the wheel of one yet, it’s plain to see that the Charger Ute is cool. The bed is seriously usable; it’s a full 6 feet long and has a 900-pound payload. All the new exterior components fit together seamlessly, even the ones sourced from other vehicles. The rear glass comes from a Chevy Colorado, the tailgate is sourced from a Ford truck, the taillights are from a Dodge Caravan, and the new rear-quarters are fiberglass units built by Smyth.

It’s hard to imagine a better use for an LX-platform Charger. The example shown here has been slightly upgraded by Smyth with Hellcat-style wheels and a squad car push bar and looks just right. It’s easy to imagine this car as a tail-happy drift machine or a light-duty parts runner — now there’s an idea, the RCN Mag shop truck.

Charger Ute 2

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