Back in the 80’s cars were very analog; carburetors and chokes and points and manual steering and mechanical everything including the windows. Back then the Lamborghini Countach, the space-age dream car that festooned the walls of every red-blooded teenaged boy, had a whopping 370 horsepower from twelve cylinders of high-tech supercar engine…

In the 80’s, while the Lambo ruled hearts and minds, I was playing a lot of Cyberpunk with friends…

As far as Cyberpunk was concerned though, to make the science fiction setting of Cyberpunk more science fiction the cars were electro-mechanical marvels of electronics and computers. You could even ‘hack’ a car to do things to it like steal it or increase performance.

It was all very futuristic.

Last night I got to relive those late 80’s vibes by hacking the computers in my 300 to enable a lot of locked features.

See, the car I bought is essentially an SRT (Street and Racing Technology) without the SRT badging. It’s an “executive saloon” and not a “race car” according to Chrysler… Even though it’s the “S” model so it has all of the sporty bits, and I got it with the big hemi V8 instead of the V6.

But, in the interest of propping up the actual race cars like the Hellcats and whatnot, what Chrysler does is simply set all of the sporty bits to “automatic” in the computers, and then disables the owner’s access to the controls to make the car a not-SRT. So the stuff is in there, and the computers know how to interface with all of the stuff on the car, I just needed to get access to the controls.

It turns out that the user interface system in the car runs JAVA and all of the UX is handled through .jar applications, and all of the SRT .jar files were in the system but not in the boot-loader.

So I put on my hackerman pants and got to work…

I’ll not bore you with the details, but it’s a car full of computers and I’m kind of a car guy who has been into computers since the literal dawn of time.

SRT dash bootup

SRT UConnect bootup

The SRT gauge package on the UConnect screen

All of the SRT toys are accessible and work just fine

The up-side is the car even more fun to drive now; it holds gears longer, the throttle response is better, and the drivetrain has been de-civilized which really livens up the “executive saloon”. And I can turn it back into a cushy highway cruiser with the press of a few buttons, so I didn’t really loose anything.

The down-side is I can’t really take the car to the dealership now as I’m sure they wouldn’t be impressed with my hackery. And while I can back out all of my changes, I’m not sure if I left footprints in the system…

That’s not too big of a deal as I get my oil changed at a local mechanic’s shop and, in theory, the car won’t need dealership attention until after the warranty is up.

Listening to "Falling" by Timecop1983