Converting a Dodge Challenger or Charger for Australia Takes 250 Hours

American muscle cars have always been popular in Australia, but the Dodge brand doesn’t operate “Down Under”, so Aussie gearheads who want to drive a modern Challenger or Charger have to rely on a gray market import company. The first choice of many Australians who want to enjoy the thrill of driving a modern Dodge muscle car is American Motors, run by Nicholas and Alexander Watson. After meeting the Watson Brothers while they were in Las Vegas for the world debut of the 2023 Dodge Challenger SRT® Demon 170, we have gotten more details on everything that goes into making a modern Challenger and Charger legal for road use in Australia – and it is a far more labor-intensive project than we had imagined.

Before getting into the process that American Motors goes through to create Dodge Challengers and Chargers that are legal for road use in Australia, we want to explain the whole gray market situation for those who are not familiar with the process. “Gray market” refers to a product that is being sold in an international market in which it is not intended by the manufacturer. Not to be confused with “black market”, which relates to illegal items being bought and sold, gray market in this situation refers to vehicles being sold in the Australian market, where Dodge doesn’t do business. As a result, companies that do not have any direct connection with the manufacturer buy vehicles from other markets where Dodge does sell vehicles and they import them to Australia.

That gray market process of acquiring vehicles from somewhere else in the world and shipping them to Australia leads to a higher cost to the consumer, but for the Australian market, there is an even greater barrier for road-going legality. It is not like the United States, where most vehicles are left-hand-drive, but some people choose to drive right-drive vehicles from other markets. All vehicles driven on Australian roads are required to have a right-hand-drive configuration. Dodge does not build any right-drive Challengers or Chargers for any global market, so every vehicle that American Motors imports has to go through an elaborate conversion process. This makes the cars even more expensive, with some higher end models reaching a price in the $300,000 AUS range, but for that price, Australian drivers get a modern Dodge Challenger or Charger with the steering wheel on the right side – with the same fit, finish and overall interior appearance as the cars in the United States. Also, for those wondering, the right-hand-drive conversion is required by law.

While you might think that you know what all goes into converting a Dodge Challenger or Charger from left-drive to right-drive, the odds are good that there are aspects that you haven’t considered – and it likely takes a whole lot longer than you would expect. Today, we take an in-depth look at what all American Motors and the Watson brothers do to make the modern Challenger and Charger street legal down under.

Right-Hand-Drive Conversion

As you might imagine, switching the steering wheel and gauge cluster from the left side to the right side of the modern Dodge Challenger or Charger focuses on relocating the steering wheel, the steering system components and the gauge cluster. This process begins when a vehicle arrives at the American Motors facility, at which point it is assigned a bay in the shop. The car will stay in that bay until the 250-hour conversion process is complete.

That’s right – it takes 250 man hours to make a modern Dodge Challenger or Charger legal for road use in Australia, and it all starts with a 10-hour disassembly of the cars from their factory form. All of the parts that will get in the way of the process are removed from the cars are tagged with a bar code and cataloged for re-assembly. This includes all of the trim pieces around the dashboard, the front end components that are cleared to install the new steering rack and the other key items that are re-installed at the end of the conversion.

Once the factory components have all been removed from the Challenger or Charger, the build team begins adding the items that are specific to the Australian market needs. The factory firewall is carefully removed and the right-hand-drive unit is installed, as are the various items that connect to the firewall. Next time you have your hood open, take a good look at the firewall and the items along the firewall, then imagine making the steering column assembly fit on the opposite side of the engine bay. That step takes American Motors 20 hours. Once the new firewall is in place, the right-hand-drive steering assembly can go into place, beginning with the right-hand-drive steering rack that the company sources from a private supplier, allowing the factory steering wheel and column to function on the right side of the Dodge muscle cars – a process which takes about 10 hours.

Of course, when moving the steering wheel and gauge cluster of the modern Dodge Challenger and Charger to the other side of the dashboard, the entire dashboard has to be recreated with everything reversed, and American Motors performs this portion of the project to maintain the look of the factory dashboard. Although the steering wheel and gauge cluster are on the right and the glove box and passenger air bag are on the left, the dashboard itself looks just like the design featured in the United States. They even use the same Uconnect infotainment system, although the navigation system doesn’t work on the Australian continent and the AM radio doesn’t work properly, as American AM radio channels are spaced out by 100s while Australian AM radio stations are spaced out by 1s. The dashboard modification and installation process takes about 40 hours, which includes some changes to the HVAC system as well.

The last aspect of the LHD-to-RHD conversion, and the most time consuming, is the modification of the factory wiring for the right-hand-drive layout. When switching the location of the gauge cluster, the steering column and the steering rack, the factory wiring has to be switched as well, and if you are familiar with modern vehicle electrical systems, they are composed of intricate bundles that are built to follow a set path through the vehicle. The company can’t just pull a wire from the left side to the right side and plug in it – they have to adapt certain portions of the factory electrical system to accommodate the new layout and that process takes 150 hours. This includes modifications to the safety systems, all of which are required to function as they did when built in Canada with the steering wheel on the left side. The electrical system upgrade also includes amber turn signals, required by Australian Design Rules.

Once all of the right-drive-specific items are in place and wired up, the team re-installs all of the parts removed at the very beginning of the process, which takes 10 more hours; and the conversion to every Australian Dodge Challenger or Charger wraps up with a “rigorous and thorough” 5-hour quality control check.

Mopar® V8 Muscle is Rare Down Under

As mentioned above, having a Dodge Challenger or Charger in SRT Hellcat Redeye form can have a price of over $300,000 after the conversion, so owning one of these American muscle cars in Australia requires similar financial resources to owning a Ferrari or Lamborghini in the United States. As a result, these cars are pretty rare, with American Motors importing and converting almost 50 cars over the past few years. They do not import V6 models, focusing on HEMI® engine-powered Challengers and Chargers, with their most popular being the Challenger 392, the Challenger SRT Hellcat, the Challenger Super Stock, the Charger SRT Hellcat and the Charger SRT Hellcat Redeye. The SRT Hellcat and Redeye models are the most popular, but it is very difficult for the Watsons to acquire those vehicles right now. For those wondering, most of the vehicles that they purchase for import come from dealerships in Japan, Mexico and Europe.

In addition to providing factory-quality right-hand-drive conversions, the Watsons explained that customer service is a key aspect of their business.

“The main thing here is to support the customer. Currently, we bear the cost of any recalls and warranty issues here in Australia. The people buying these cars tend to be relatively wealthy and as such the aftersales service must be as good as, if not better than, an actual dealership. We have access to an OEM computer to deal with any issues along the way. Ideally, one day, we would like to increase our number to make the vehicles more mainstream. With the exit of Ford and General Motors Holden from the market and the void left by Australian V8 vehicles, there is an increasing movement here toward V8 sports and muscle cars. The Mopar connection is still very much alive down under and there is an almost cult following of HEMI V8s”, says Nicholas.

Being a part of the Brotherhood of Muscle in Australia is difficult and expensive, but American Motors and the Watson brothers are doing their best to make sure that their customers get the most from their Dodge Challenger or Charger ownership experience.



I recently paid the first deposit for my 2023 Widebody Hellcat SRT Jailbreak Challenger through American Motors in Australia and I can tell you that the level of customer service and personal care was EXCEPTIONAL. They made me feel as if I was apart of their family. Reading this soon after gives me even more confidence in the level of happiness I’ll feel when I take delivery of my new car. As they said, they don’t just sell cars, they sell dreams. Thanks for everything guys.


I bought my challenger red eye from Alex and Nick last year, never even considered a European car, the hellcat was always my dream car. These blokes helped get me into it with no dramas at all. We were so impressed we brought a ram limited black edition from them too. Couldn’t recommend them highly enough. I can’t wait for the stage two kit to be available here!