What do you get when you combine the new 392 HEMI® crate engine from Mopar® with the world’s first-ever steel reproduction of a 1927 street rod body and three car-crazy designers? The result is a custom SR 392 Roadster that was unveiled at the 2007 Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) Show.
For nearly two years, Chrysler’s Mark Allen and Ralph Gilles planned to build the SR 392 Roadster as a SEMA stunner with Michael Chetcuti of Livonia, Mich.-based auto supplier, Quality Metalcraft (QMC). Allen is chief designer, Jeep ®/Dodge Truck Studios – Chrysler LLC and Gilles is Vice President of Jeep/Truck & CFM Design, Chrysler LLC. Gilles and Allen are members of Chrysler’s Mopar Underground SEMA design team, a group of in-house automotive enthusiasts who donate their time to SEMA project vehicles.
Allen said, "It was important to convey the car’s theme as an homage to Detroit – the cool Detroit with its unique artistic community, music and gritty vibe. We used durable materials and let the mechanicals show to reflect the industrial backbone of the city. We wrapped it all up in a high-gloss black-and-chrome wrapper to evoke Detroit’s cool attitude."
Allen, Chetcuti and Gilles saw a challenge in proving that the 6.4-liter HEMI crate engine could apply to a vehicle other than traditional muscle cars or modified up fits. The team’s idea was to redefine the classic hot rod with a more functional urban and industrial attitude to create a distinctly ’Detroit’ roadster.
The project was assisted by Chetcuti’s QMC since the company has tooled, designed and now stamps the first-ever steel reproduction of a ’27 street rod body - the Shadowrods XL-27 Roadster and Lakes Modified bodies developed by hot rod legend, Jon Hall.
"The core design elements of this roadster speak to the grit and industrial edge of our city," said Chetcuti. "Things like the mezzanine flooring detail and Eames-inspired seating - these take an industrial cue but are by no means ’rat-rod.’ It is a refined and organized design throughout."
After several design variations were discussed (California hot rod king Chip Foose even had a peek), Allen brought his full resources to the design’s completion. QMC stamped and performed the initial assembly on the reworked Shadowrods body – and fabricated and fit the revised hood, hood side panels, lower rocker panels and doors to the body.
With the car’s extremely low stance, Shadowrods was asked to build a custom frame using a unique staggered truss concept. For the final build of the SR 392 Roadster, QMC turned to longtime concept- and show-car builder Wheel to Wheel Powertrain of Madison Heights, Mich.
Overseen by Gilles, the Mopar Underground SEMA design team has been customizing Chrysler, Jeep and Dodge production vehicles for the SEMA show since its creation in 2002. The team creates tricked, tuned and customized vehicle concepts meant to develop performance parts, accessories and customization, vehicle concepts and keep the Mopar spirit and passion alive.