We really have World War II vets to thank for the original hot-rod movement. Coming home from the war with money in their pockets, the need for speed, and the mechanical know-how, many of the original hot rodders earned their stripes overseas. Taking old Ford Flathead engines and souping them up, then using airplane fuel tanks and transforming them into the fastest things on the Bonneville Salt Flats, the old-school gearheads wanted their daily drivers to match their thrill-seeking side. Enter the world of chop-top Mercs, flamed and scalloped Chevy trucks, and of course, vivid paint colors that the original auto designers couldn’t have imagined. Those original cars are considered timeless, as they broke the mold and survived life’s progression of family, work, and eventually retirement, oftentimes being stored in a garage with boxes stacked on top. When it came time to give our ’09 Ram a refresh, we wanted to give a nod to the original customizers and say “thank you” in our own way. With that in mind, we proudly present Lead Sled.

It all started with a rendering from Eye Kandy Designs, and once we ironed out the color combos, flame style, wheel designs, and stance, we got to work making our high-end Ram look more befitting a ’50s cruise-in. Our first area of business was the suspension. As we showed you in Issue 7, Ekstensive Metalworks in Houston handled slamming our Ram to the Texas tarmac. Using their own lower A-arms, relocated upper A-arm mounts, and Firestone ’bags to get the front end down, the Ekstensive team also notched the firewall, fabricated trailer fenders for the front tires, and relocated the battery and ECU. Out back, Bill, Derek, Josh, and Rudy fabricated a C-notch, added two new crossmembers, and added a trick sliding three-link wishbone setup that provides a smooth ride and dumped stance. A total of four Viair compressors (two 444s and two 400Cs) fill the 7-gallon tank, while ½-inch copper lines feed the airbags via four ½-inch Parker valves. With the air out of the ’bags, our Ram looks body-dropped, and it easily swallows up the 26-inch wheels, but more on those later.

We know the original hot rodders couldn’t leave their factory engines alone, and we completely understand their obsession with speed. Fueling our fire for an adrenaline rush, we drove up to Ventura, California, and met up with the supercharger pros at MagnaCharger. Before the MagnaCharger supercharger install, the Ram was only putting 238 hp to the wheels. It’s amazing how much power big wheels and tires soak up. Eight hours after the install began, our Ram, despite its custom engine bay, was laying down 378 hp to the massive rear wheels. That power increase can be felt throughout the rpm range, and for those of you curious, our blown Hemi returned 20.4 mpg during the drive home to Southern California. It ain’t Prius figures, but it sure looks sick rolling down the freeway 2 inches off the ground.