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Preventative Measures—Installing a custom roll cage in an 8-second, Dodge Challenger Hellcat Redeye

Posted By: Evan J. Smith
Preventative Measures—Installing a custom roll cage in an 8-second, Dodge Challenger Hellcat Redeye
Written by Steve Baur
Photography by the author
Today’s modern muscle cars are quicker and faster than ever, and it’s easier than ever to improve on that. Dodge’s supercharged Challengers and Chargers are prime examples of this, and when we saw that Profab Performance in Hudson, Florida, was installing a custom roll cage in one, we decided to follow along to see what was involved.
While we’re able to infuse these modern muscle machines with hundreds and sometimes thousands of horsepower, it’s also been possible to retain all of the creature comforts that they offer as well. Installing a roll bar or cage is invasive and often requires removing numerous components, especially if you are running the front down bars through the dash, but companies like Profab Performance Plus have found ways to add the additional safety of a roll cage while retaining the amenities that take up real estate behind the dashboard. 
The subject vehicle of this project is a 2019 Dodge Challenger Hellcat Redeye that belongs to Clearwater, Florida, resident Mike Vanzile. His ride is largely stock, save for a pulley change, custom ECM calibration, some Ignite Red fuel, and a 100-horsepower shot of nitrous oxide that gets the Gen III Hemi engine to turn over a mega 1,200 horsepower at the rear wheels.
Vanzile competed in the Modern Street Hemi Shootout in 2023 and took home the 9.50 index class championship through his efforts. Looking toward 2024, he wants to compete in the 8.50 index category. To do so, he will have the Hemi powerplant fortified with better connecting rods and pistons, a high-performance camshaft, a 3.0-liter Whipple supercharger, and will likely double the amount of nitrous to the Challenger in the off-season. Vanzile’s Mopar has already run a best elapsed time of 8.99 at 153 mph, and these upgrades should provide him with some margin for error as he looks to hit that 8.50 index every time.
Knowing it was time to stiffen the chassis, comply with the technical regulations, and perhaps most importantly, protect himself, Vanzile turned to Profab Performance Plus for a proper 8.50-certified roll cage.
“I had seen their cages before in other cars,” Vanzile told us. “The way they do their cages, it’s a lot more work, but they look really good. I saw them go through the dash instead of in front of it.”
Talking to Profab Performance’s Robert Coady, he noted that the plan was to run the front down bars through the dash for a cleaner look and additional room for ingress and egress. This is to be accomplished while retaining all of the functional elements that reside behind the dash.
As Vanzile is just one of many late-model HEMI owners who are making four-digit horsepower with their cars and need a safety upgrade, we decided to follow along to see what goes into a roll cage installation such as this. Check out the captions to see the details.


Pro Fab Performance’s Kris Mahan and Robert Coady disassembled the Hellcat’s interior compartment and carefully set everything aside to begin forming the main hoop first. In this photo, you can see the electronic power steering unit that resides behind the dashboard. The front and rear windows were also removed to allow better access.

With the size of the passenger compartment, Coady opted to form a main hoop bar as well as a secondary, horizontal rear hoop. The latter provides additional strength to the rear down bars, which are split and tied into the horizontal bar. This cage will be constructed using 1 5/8-inch 4130 chrome-moly tubing.

Here, you can see Coady has formed the main hoop and the rear horizontal bar, and is fitting the first of two upper down bars. These are just tack-welded in place for now until the front down bars and windshield bar are formed. The main design goal for this roll cage was to hide as much of it as possible. Here, you can see the main hoop is angled to follow the B pillar angle and tucked the bar behind it. You can also see how the horizontal bar runs the perimeter of the back seat and package tray areas. Care was taken to ensure that the package tray itself and any components fitted to it sufficiently cleared the bar.

The rear section of the roll cage is fully welded and removed to ensure it can be properly painted.

With the main hoop assembly stuffed back in the car, the front down bars are tack-welded into place. The car’s owner did not want the front down bars to run in front of the dashboard and Pro Fab found plenty of room behind it to run the bars down to the floor. Just like the rest of the roll cage, the front down bars are run as tight as possible to the A-pillars for a clean look.

Looking out the front, we can see the front down bars in place as well as the front windshield bar. A dash bar is optional for the 8.50 ET certification and was omitted to retain all of the creature comforts that the Challenger offers and that run inside of the dashboard.

With the front down bars and windshield bar tacked in place, holes are cut into the car’s floor to allow the entire cage to be dropped down so that the upper tubes can be welded around their circumference. Once welding and painting are complete, the cage is raised back into position and set on 6x6-inch plates that are welded to the floor.

But before that happens, Mahan and Coady reinstall the headliner as they won’t be able to once the cage is welded in place. Such is the compromise for having such a tightly nestled roll cage design.

Here, you can see how the roll cage is dropped down through the floor for final welding and paint. As one can see from the photo, the front section still needs to be welded to the rear section before raising it to its final resting place.

Along with the headliner, Mahan also installed the rear side interior panels before welding the main hoop into place. The rear seat is being deleted and the car owner supplied a delete kit that will provide a finished look for the area.

Mahan carefully welds the main hoop to the front section and uses special 3M welding paper to protect the surrounding areas from heat and associated UV rays.

With the front and rear cage sections completely welded together, Mahan and Coady lift the assembly into place and weld it to the floor plates. Depending on the floor contours, the plates are sometimes molded to fit the floor before welding occurs.

One easy-to-spot sign of a well-engineered and fitted roll cage is how tightly the front down bars are fitted into the dashboard, and it doesn’t get any better than this right here.

Another sign of good engineering is that things like the sun visors and the glove box door can be operated without issue. With some vehicle applications, there just might not be enough room to provide this, but most of the time it can be achieved. Late-model Challengers have plenty of room to spare.

Next to be added to the roll cage are the main hoop kick-out bars. And the door bars. The car owner required a swing-out bar for the driver side and a fixed bar for the passenger side.

The door bars must pass between the seated driver’s shoulder and elbow but can be otherwise contoured as needed. Here, you can see it was formed around the door handle and the cup holder to ensure the driver had proper access to both.

Here is another photo of the driver-side, swing-out door bar. Mahan noted that care must be taken during the welding process to ensure that the securing pins don’t bind up due to the metal shrinking and expanding during the welding process. They can also be re-adjusted slightly using the proper-sized drill bit should binding occur.

With the main assembly welded into place, the rear down bars going into the trunk can be installed and painted, and the package tray replaced. These bars run at a slight angle down to the trunk floor and onto a pair of 6x6 plates.

With all of the bars welded and painted, it was time to re-install the interior. The Hellcat’s owner provided a Braum racing seat that should save some 80 pounds of weight, and the removal of the passenger and rear seats should more than offset the additional weight of the roll cage, which is important seeing as the hellcat weighs in at 4,595 pounds with driver. One other thing that is important to note is that the vehicle is now equipped with an owner-provided, air-bag-delete solution that prevents the ECU from knowing that all of the airbags save for the steering wheel (which no longer functions) have been removed.

The rear seat area was fitted with a delete kit that finishes the area nicely and offers a cargo net for storage.
Here is one more shot to illustrate how well-integrated the roll cage is into the Challenger’s interior space. All of the car’s creature comforts remain intact.

Owner Mike Vanzile was happy with the installation and was headed to a roll race the day he picked up the car. Once at the track, he can get the roll cage inspected and certified by an NHRA chassis inspector and be legal to run his Hellcat in the 8.50 index.

Profab Performance
(727) 849-9300

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