Doing something right the first time is a philosophy the staff of Truckin' magazine tries to live by. This philosophy is applicable to most projects, but when it comes to custom trucks, there is no compromising. We either do it right with the best components, or not at all. Last year there was talk among the staff of building a sky-scraping custom Dodge Hemi Ram, and once the Truckin' crew starts talking about a project, chances are, it will be built. Since the Ram was Truckin' magazine's 2003 Truck of the Year, we figured it would be fitting to create a stunning custom example of Dodge's already impressive platform.
Our group has built a few custom Chevy and Ford projects in the past and decided it was time to try our hands at a Ram. A few phone calls to Dodge's corporate office and our '03 quad cab Hemi-powered Ram 2500 4x4 was on its way to our Anaheim, California offices. The idea was to create a truck that would serve as a poster child for our growing Water Toys section while towing our custom flamed 24-foot Aftershock powerboat. Since the debut of the special Water Toys section in our Jan. '03 issue of Truckin', the lifestyle of the custom powerboat enthusiast has been demonstrated from several different angles. Feature articles on custom graphic-enhanced boats with high-horsepower engines have appeared within the Truckin' pages featuring custom trucks doing the towing duty. Truckin' magazine has also captured how these enthusiasts use their boats with extensive regatta coverage.
Practicing what you preach is also a philosophy the Truckin' staff strives to live by, and we couldn't roll up to the ramp pulling the AfterShock with a stock pickup when everyone else is sitting pretty in lifted Chevy HDs and Ford Super Duty trucks or slammed Escalades and Tahoes. When people look up to you,setting an example is an obligation. Since the boat was already built and laden with blue flames with gray borders and a bright-orange beltline graphic over a white hull, replicating that scheme on the truck was the easy part. Creating the monster-sized lift while maintaining driveability and utility was significantly harder. Although it would have been a no-brainer to equip our Ram with a 6-inch suspension lift and 37-inch tires, successful project vehicles need to be on the edge of insane and far from sensible.
With a vision clearly established of this truck's finished state, Full Throttle Suspensions of Fresno, California, was contacted to obtain one of the company's 10-inch suspension lift kits to get the Ram's roofline up in the clouds. The Custom Truck Shop in San Dimas, California, which is a division of the successful custom paint business L&G Enterprises, performed the suspension installation, which became a compilation of Full Throttle and Sway-A-Way components along with fabrication work from the Custom Truck Shop. Up front, Sway-A-Way RaceRunner coilover shocks (two per side) were used to get the lift and then tuned to get the ride.
Moving to the rear, Atlas Spring built a 10-inch Multipack leaf spring pack to bring the tail end level with the nose, while Sway-A-Way RaceRunner reservoir rear shocks cushion the ride. To increase the towing performance and help the truck handle the load of the boat trailer's tongue weight, a pair of Chassis Tech rear airbags with billet upper and lower spring cups were installed. Chassis Tech is a division of AIM Industries, located in Phoenix, Arizona. Keeping the rear axle in check are a pair of custom flamed traction bars built by the Custom Truck Shop and chrome-plated by Decore Plating in Gardena, California. Once the 10-inch suspension lift was in position, 20x12-inch Weld Racing Dakar wheels were selected and mounted on Interco TrXus tires measuring a shocking 39.5x13x20 inches. These massive rollers make a strong contribution to the Ram's aggressive visual attitude, and with a matching set of Weld Dakars on the boat trailer, the style points keep rolling in. Enhancing handling is a custom-built steering setup fabricated by the folks at Off Road Unlimited in Burbank, California.
Completion of the nosebleed stance and the addition of the land-tromping wheel and tire combination brought the Truckin' staff to analyzing performance additions for the Hard-Chargin' Hemi. The factory 5.7L Hemi engine was blessed with a GCA Industries True Flow air intake system, along with a set of Gibson Performance Exhaust 2-inch ubular headers and a Gibson 3-inch after-cat exhaust system capped by a Gibson flamed exhaust tip. To put all of this newfound power to the pavement and the boat ramp, Drivetrain Direct in Corona, California, was contracted to re-gear the rearend to a 4.88:1 ratio. The gear swap really improved the driveability of the truck and made it exceptionally stout for towing, even while pushing the 39.5-inch-tall tires.
After pouring so much energy into achieving the right lift for this project and backing that by some performance upgrades, the staff of Truckin' was not about to skimp on the exterior. The Hard-Chargin' Hemi needed to match Truckin's project 24-foot AfterShock in order for the whole rig to make an impact at the boat ramp. Enter L&G Enterprises, which has a reputation in the custom truck aftermarket industry for laying down some of the sickest custom paintjobs around. L&G's Theresa Contreras laid out the design for the flame graphics and combined House of Kolor Tangelo Orange, True Blue, and Platinum for a look that is all too cool.
The envelope was left virtually stock save for a Gaylord's X2000 tonneau and Trenz upper and lower billet grille inserts. Working with a stock white basecoat, Luis Acosta (one of L&G's most talented painters) laid House of Kolor True Blue from the beltline up, following up with HOK Tangelo Orange just below and another layer of blue under the orange flowing into flames, which are shadowed in Platinum. Theresa followed up with all the airbrushing to give the graphics endless depth. The result is a perfect rendition of the graphics present on the 24-inch AfterShock powerboat which is towed behind the Hard-Chargin' Hemi.
Bringing some of the off-the-hook style present on the exterior of the truck into the interior was last on the customizing list, and the Hard-Chargin' Hemi was delivered to Classic Soft Trim in Commerce, California, for some custom seating updates. The talented sewing crew at CST used the factory seats and created a blanket of color with blue leather in the centers with flames in the seat bases surrounded by carbon-fiber leather outer edges. The Hot Wheels logo was stitched in the seatbacks of the front seats, since Mattel plans to build a Hot Wheel out of our sensational project Ram. Billet door trim panels from Trenz lend some additional detail to the inside looks.
During the summer months, our project Hard-Chargin' Hemi barrels down the freeway with a matching custom 24-foot AfterShock Tremor powerboat in tow. The 24-foot cuddy cabin open-bow cruiser from AfterShock was shown coming together at the AfterShock facility in the May '03 issue in the article titled "Project AfterShock." The white, blue, orange, and gray water rocket is powered by a GM Vortec 496 HP2 Magnum HO big-block delivering an authoritative 425 hp to a Mercury Racing Bravo Outdrive and propels the 24-foot craft to eye-watering, cheek-flapping speeds. Helping any Truckin' staffer who climbs behind the wheel to monitor engine vitals is a complete Smart Craft engine monitoring system from Mercury Racing, incorporating attractive white bezel gauges with an in-dash Smart Craft computer system designed to provide more accurate readings of the gauges. Throttle and forward/reverse controls from Gaffrig make navigating the AfterShock a cinch, while deck hardware and powdercoated billet swim step platforms from Dana Marine finish off the sensational exterior.
Moving to the interior, simple white upholstery with AfterShock logos in the seats does the trick, while tunes are delivered with authority via a Jensen single-disc CD head unit and Jensen six-disc CD changer complemented by eight Bazooka surface-mounted speakers and four 10-inch Bazooka subwoofers. We could not cruise the popular river and lake vacation spots and be seen but not heard. With this full-tilt marine audio system, you will definitely hear this 24-foot water missile coming.
After assembly of the boat was complete, Extreme Trailers of Riverside, California, was contacted to build a custom trailer to haul the boat on. Extreme came through big time with a bright-white trailer laden with frenched LED lighting and polished fenders. Polished side storage boxes provide an area for tools and river gear, while Weld Dakar wheels measuring 17x8.5 inches mounted on BFGoodrich P255/50HR17 tires from Discount Tire Direct round out the shining rolling package.
The culmination of all the hard work put into each of these rides was the 2003 SEMA Show in Las Vegas, where this matching combination was a smash hit with all who viewed it. When the staff of Truckin' takes on a project of this magnitude, we go all the way and do not sacrifice quality.