Don McDonald is the reprographics manager at a friend's auto stereo shop in Fresno, California.Before buying his '99 Dodge Dakota R/T truck, Don owned an '83 Toyota Celica that he tricked out and outfitted with a radical stereo system in order to enter audio competitions to represent the store. The car won many trophies and remained very competitive, but Don grew tired of the Celica. A couple of friends owned trucks, so he went looking for something a little different. He was in the market for a midsize truck but definitely wanted a V-8-powered machine. Another friend had purchased a new '99 Dakota R/T, and Don really liked the beefy look and that 360 Magnum motor. At that time, Dodge offered the Dakota in a bright Solar Yellow, so he jumped on a Club Cab model. The name of the stereo shop is Bananas Hi-Fi, and this truck would be perfect for an audio competition project, as trucks were becoming hot commodities.
Even before Don signed the papers for the truck, his friends were helping to plan the makeover. The first order of business was to take it to the stereo shop and get it fitted with a killer set of sound equipment. A CQ-DVR909 Panasonic head unit with a pre-amp, amps, a crossover, a pair of horns, subs, and a monitor were selected. After the interior had been outfitted with a super stereo system, they began showing the bright-yellow truck at the store and shows around Fresno. What better color vehicle to represent Bananas Hi-Fi store than this bright-yellow tricked-out hauler.
With the back-seat area filled with the sound system, Don got together with his friend, Jose Reyes, to plan out the exterior. He wanted to make some changes but not go overboard. They ordered a Stillen bumper cover, an MBRP roll pan, and '70 'Cuda-style exhaust tips that would extend through the pan. Don also added a fiberglass SS-style hood. After Jose put all the pieces on and painted them to match the rest of the truck, Don thought it looked like every other truck - just some pieces bolted on with nothing really changed. The Dakota had been ordered with the R/T package, which added wheelwell flares to the truck. The front bumper cover and factory flares did not have the body contour line molded into them, so not only did the factory flares not look like they were intended for the truck, neither did the new bumper cover. Don asked Jose if there was a way to make everything look in sync? Jose suggested molding in the body lines all the way down the sides, reattach the flares, and mold them to the body for a smooth look. Fiberglass was used to smooth off the body and mold in the flares. Don wanted Jose to mold in the fiberglass roll pan, but Jose warned that bonding the glass to the metal fenders might produce cracking, and it would be much better to use a metal unit. He knew a sheetmetal fabricator that could duplicate the fiberglass piece. It was made up and molded smooth. The whole truck was repainted DuPont Solar Yellow with a Chromobase. Jose Reyes also did the smooth paintwork.
The R/T model came with the 360 Magnum V-8 engine, and Don added an M-1 intake, an F&B 52mm throttle body, Mopar ceramic-coated headers, and a round 11x2-inch K&N air filter unit with an Xtreme lid. The transmission was rebuilt by Martin Saine and was fitted with a 2,800-stall converter. Soon, Don plans to install a Paxton supercharger, GS Motorsports big headers, and a Spin Tech 3-inch exhaust system with the company's X-pipe.
The truck was dropped by the use of a Hotchkis' Tuned Sport suspension, featuring a 2/3 drop. Hotchkis/Bilstein Sport Shocks were used all around. The truck has been fitted with a set of GS Motorsports/Viper four-wheel disc brakes that use 13-inch EBC rotors and pads.
As we stated earlier, the casual observer may think this truck has been dropped slightly and fitted with nice-looking bigger wheels and tires, but check out the photo layout. Then you are sure to notice that a lot of detail work has been done to give this Dakota a very clean look.