Do you want to add over 100 hp to your 6.1L Hemi with a box of parts, some average mechanical skills, and about eight hours of your time? Now that I have your attention, check out what Vortech can do for your SRT8 Mopar.

I happen to have a 2006 SRT8 Charger, and I wanted it to go faster. I wanted the most horsepower and torque I could get for the money, and I like the idea of installing it myself in my garage with basic tools. Like most of you, I'm not a mechanic, so I imagine a lot of you reading this have had those thoughts go through your mind at least a few times. If you know me, you know I'm a musician who loves guitars and cars. I like to wrench on my stuff anytime my schedule permits. FYI, I've written plenty of songs, but I have never written an editorial before. When presented the opportunity to install a blower on my SRT8 Dodge Charger and write about my experience doing it for Popular Hot Rodding magazine, I jumped at the chance. You see, I'm a Mopar guy. I own both new and old ones. As of writing this article, I own five Mopars and am working on acquiring my sixth (the new Dodge Challenger SRT8). I really love my SRT8, and everything was fine until I went to the quarter-mile track for the first time. Trust me, this car has more than enough power from the factory for most people, but if you've ever been bitten by the drag racing bug, you know what I'm talking about. My first time at the track, I ran the car to a best of 13.00 at 108 mph with a couple of Mopar Performance bolt-ons (exhaust and cold air intake) into a 35-mph headwind. That's pretty darned good, but now I need more, because at the strip, it's all about going faster, and that 13-oh barrier is begging to be broken.

I started thinking about the options that would meet my criteria, and decided on a supercharger. Supercharging an engine is nothing new. It's a proven method of boosting horsepower that's been done for years in all kinds of automotive applications. Supercharging an engine is pretty simple in theory. Force as much cool, dense air as possible (with the right amount of fuel!) into the engine, and create more cylinder pressure and power. It's like increasing the displacement, but you don't have to do a thing to the engine.

When looking for a supercharger for my 6.1L, I wanted to go with a company that had a history of supercharging cars with good results. That's when I came across Vortech's kit for the new-generation Hemi. It's just what I was looking for: a company that's been doing this for a long time. Its technicians are top-notch, and this is a system it developed in-house, not a mix-and-match group of parts that someone pieced together in their backyard. This is a brand-new unit that uses a centrifugal supercharger, which is ideal for cars that have a limited amount of space to work with inside the engine bay. The Hemi kit includes an intercooler to help cool the air charge as it is force-fed into the engine. All the large components are made of aluminum to keep the weight and temperatures down. It also includes larger injectors and a Boost-A-Pump for increased fuel delivery. You can buy one right now, and the typical street price is $4,900 for a satin finish, or $5,200 for a polished one like this. Vortech is awaiting CARB approval, so for now it's for off-road use only, but once the California Air Resources Board exemption order is issued, it will be 50-state legal, and you can get the necessary documentation for your Hemi kit sent to you from Vortech.

Let's get down to the nitty gritty. You want to know how much power this thing makes. When I first drove my car to Vortech, we did a baseline run on its Mustang dyno. The dyno showed my car putting 283 hp and 286 lb-ft of torque to the rear wheels. Don't be shocked by those numbers because I previously had the car on a Dynojet dyno and it posted 400 hp and 402 lb-ft. Those numbers, incidentally, were produced with a Mopar Performance cold air induction kit and a Mopar Performance exhaust-both of which I installed myself. Seems like quite a discrepancy, but the Mustang dyno has a reputation for being more conservative with its numbers, and what's really important in the overall scheme of things is the amount of horsepower gained. Now that I had a base number for reference, I could install my kit. As I opened the box, I noticed just how complete this thing is. No runs to the auto parts store for any missing pieces. No need to have my car's computer tuned after installing the supercharger. Vortech supplies a Diablosport Predator handheld tuner with a preprogrammed tune for this application. Just plug it into your car's OBD-II port, and in about 10 minutes you're ready to go. After everything was done and buttoned up, the guys at Vortech did another run on the Mustang dyno. I must say, the proof's in the puddin'. (Hey, maybe there's a lyric in there somewhere!) The new peak numbers are 395 hp and 384 lb-ft; that's a net gain of 116 hp and 104 lb-ft at a very conservative pump-gas-friendly 4.6 pounds of boost. This setup is very streetable, and at the same time allows me to smoke the rear wheels all the way through Third gear should I feel the urge. So far I've only been through one tank of gas since the install, but I haven't noticed any drop in mileage. That's impressive, considering I can't seem to keep my foot out of this thing! I also haven't made it back to the track yet, but I'll be going down that quarter-mile as soon as my touring schedule permits to get you guys an updated quarter-mile timeslip.

The quality of workmanship in this kit is great, and the parts are notably lightweight. It took the better part of a day to install the system on my car, but I had a little help from Ricky Best at Vortech. If you're on your own, give yourself a weekend to get the job done. There's not a lot that needs to be removed from thecar prior to installation, and the instructions are clear, but if you want a little extra guidance, you can follow along as I show you the high points on installing the Vortech supercharger on my SRT8.