One man who has always been a Dodge fan and has explored the customizing possibilities and potential of these pickups is Jim Bell, owner and proprietor of Kenne Bell Superchargers in Rancho Cucamonga, California. A performance enthusiast at heart, Jim's custom focus is mainly on power, speed, and handling, so when Dodge released the new and restyled Ram in 2002, he couldn't wait to get his hands on one and start spinning wrenches to create a contemporary pickup with classic musclecar influence. An '03 crew cab 2500-series Heavy Duty Ram with the factory-equipped Hemi 5.7L engine was located and the transformation began.

Throughout many years of production, some trucks carry similar, distinctive lines and curves, and when seen on the road are easy to identify by brand. The Dodge Ram has always been one of those trucks that can be spotted and identified from miles away. Sporting a semitruck-looking front end with a bold, tall grille and an aggressively sloping hood, the trademarks of Dodge's workhorse are unique and visually intriguing. Up until just a few years ago, the Dodge Ram was typically a truck that was ignored by customizers. Most enthusiasts were so involved in building upon the almighty Bow Tie platform that the thought of creating a visually stunning Mopar pickup was not even a consideration. Today, there are quite a few customized Rams on the road and on the show field. Many enthusiasts have started craving the desire to be different.

First on the list was a trip to Advantage Performance Center, where the stock stance was lowered 2 inches up front and 3 inches out back, for a conservatively dropped altitude. Shock value comes by way of the 26x10.5-inch Oasis X5 wheel and Yokohama P335/25R26 AVS ST tire package occupying the Ram's wheelwells. After the stock stance was moderately modified and capped off with a wicked set of rollers, Jim made the rounds to various manufacturers to add miscellaneous body bolt-ons to spice up the stock exterior landscape.

The envelope of Heavy Breathin' Hemi now shines, thanks to a Sir Michaels roll pan complemented by a Billet Specialties license plate frame, Xenon fender flares, a Mopar Parts front air dam, a Gaylord's tonneau cover, and B-Cool billet grille inserts. An Amp Research billet fuel door covering a locking Mopar Parts fuel cap is a nice feature when it comes time to feed the thirsty Kenne Bell supercharged 5.7L Hemi motor.

Jim didn't see the necessity to stray too far from Dodge's original exterior, so simple additions were made to clean up the lines of the original envelope. After slightly altering Dodge's stock exterior styling, the truck was delivered to Mike Face Custom Paint in San Bernardino, California, where the House of Kolor Hemi Orange Pearl hue was applied to give it that classic musclecar flavor. Just like the classics of yesteryear, this contemporary pickup platform was given black stripes down the side and over the roof highlighted by the coveted Hemi logo. Once the outside was up to aftermarket par, the focus was redirected to the guts of the cab and the bed.

Concealed under the smooth Gaylord's paint-matched lid sits one of the company's plush California Cruiser carpet kits, ensuring the bed's inner walls remain free of unsightly dings and scratches. Moving forward into the roomy crew-cab cockpit, lucky passengers are greeted with Mopar Parts stainless steel door entry guards, featuring the famous Dodge logo.

Further interior investigation reveals black leather seats with bright-orange Katzkin leather inserts adorned with the Dodge Hemi Ram stamp of power. The threads are simple and elegant and reflect the high-performance element Jim was going for perfectly. Now that the interior and exterior had been radically redefined, the crew at Kenne Bell focused on what they do best by upping the horsepower level to produce tire-roasting, rpm red-lining, pavement-punishing performance.

Lifting the hood of the contemporary Hemi Ram, you can see that this truck is no slouch in the power department, even in stock trim. The 5.7L Hemi can deliver plenty of performance for the average consumer, but when you have high-octane fuel running though your veins and a right foot that never lifts off the floorboard, it requires something pretty stout to be considered impressive. Jim is an individual who lives on horsepower, day and night, so strapping a supercharger on top of Dodge's new engine package seemed like a logical performance move. The research and development department at Kenne Bell got to work on the new mill and came up with a Supercharger package called the Blowzilla 2200.

Featuring a twin-screw design, the new huffer turned Heavy Breathin' Hemi from an impressive stock-powered pickup into a neck-snapping hauler that can smoke the hides with a slight nudge of the go pedal. A Kenne Bell Boost-A-Pump helps the factory fuel system keep up with the demands of the supercharger, while a Kenne Bell Optimizer II engine management system keeps the computer in line. A Laminova intercooler helps enhance horsepower numbers, bringing the horsepower to 517, while running 8 pounds of boost.

Considering Kenne Bell recorded the factory horsepower at 281 on its Dynojet, this is one performance enhancement that makes sense and produces results. An Optima battery helps crank the 517hp beast over, while a Gibson stainless exhaust system with four polished square and slash-cut tips let it be heard. The system was designed by Gibson with a removable section to make the truck chassis dyno-friendly.

Jim Bell and the power professionals at Kenne Bell have created a cutting-edge performance-minded pickup, which successfully blends current sport truck trends with '60s musclecar characteristics. Sporting 26-inch rims and rubber, mirror image House of Kolor paint, and 517 pavement-shredding horses, this Hemi-powered hauler is one truck we wouldn't want to go head to head with. Jim ensures us that the truck is no trailer queen, and was built to drive and show. We'd like to see it drive down the quarter-mile.