In a world filled with Chevys and Fords, Paul Baffino, of Vero Beach, Florida, opted to build a Dodge, and an uncommon one at that. Arriving at this year's BloodDrag show with his `83 Dodge D-100 dumped on twenty-inch wheels, heads were turning like Linda Blair's in "The Exorcist" to see how something so ugly 23 years ago could look so cool now. For Paul it was all part of his master plan to build something different.
Paul knew creating something clean and simple with a big longbox wouldn't be easy, so he enlisted the help of several key people, the first of which was Tommy's Trailer and Auto in Vero Beach, Florida. While at Tommy's the D-100 underwent severe suspension modifications, including the addition of DJM `95 Dakota 2-inch drop spindles, Firestone 2,600lb airbags, and new bushings. Out back, the crew at Tommy's cut a large C-notch, added 31-inch ladder bars, and finished things off with 2,600lb Firestones. At each corner are 20-inch Intro Vista billet wheels with Nitto rubber wrapping each hoop.
Dumped on dubs, Paul was now ready to drop in an engine that would smoke the Nittos. In went a 2001 5.9L, 360ci V-8 out of a newer Ram, complete with a high-performance carb conversion, Hedman Hedders, and 2-1/2-inch Flowmaster mufflers. Bolted up to the V-8 is a modified TorqueFlite 727 tranny equipped with a TCI manual valve body and 2,500-rpm stall converter. Firing up the powertrain now created a nice rumble and quality 1-2 upshift chirp of the tires.
Paul drove with a quick pace to Darnell's Paint & Body in Vero Beach and placed an order for a sleek exterior with a classy paint scheme on top of the 23-year-old steel body. The crew at Darnell's quickly shaved up the door handles and emblems, and added a smooth tailgate skin. On went a Ramcharger rear bumper and Cadi-style taillights from CanDo Customs. Inside the bed, the welders were also applied to all four walls, where the smoothed sheetmetal looks right at home. After every panel was arrow-straight, the body was coated in PPG Electric Green Metallic and Silver Metallic paint, providing the Dodge with a clean and classy appearance.
Next up, Xtreme Performance and Car Audio and Dale Meyer's Enterprises (both in Vero Beach) teamed up to add the Pioneer and Audiobahn sound system and wrap the `72 Dodge Van seats in gray vinyl and tweed. The dash was also covered in gray tweed. Ready to show everyone something different, Paul drives the truck to shows all over the Southeast and places at every venue he arrives at. Next time you want to build something different, take Paul's example and go big.