Admittedly, I'm a strongly opinionated person. As a custom truck enthusiast, chances are, you too have strong opinions about what looks good and what doesn't. Seldom does a truck roll by with everyone in agreement that it looks just right. Whether it's wheel choice, paint design, or suspension, division seems to always creep in when debating a quality truck build. The buzz around the 2012 SEMA show had us heading over to check out one impressive Ram dualie with tricks we hadn't seen yet on a lifted truck. We knew exactly which truck they were referring to, as we'd been getting build photos of the Ram for months prior to the year's biggest show. After walking around and closely examining the lifted beast, we're happy to announce, it's official: the lifted truck bar has been raised.
Ram's new 3500 Longhorn evokes a western way of life when six-guns were law, gold was king, and a hard day's work didn't end until the sun went down. Looking to build a Ram 3500 Longhorn dualie in that tradition, Tim Nicolau of Ceres, California, left the dealer with a truck that wouldn't remain stock for very long. As the proprietor of Tim Nicolau Designs (TND), Tim is well versed in taking a factory-fresh truck and creating something that makes you shake your head with astonishment. The painstaking transformation would take eight months and leave the lifted truck world playing catch up.
Kelderman’s 8-10-inch kit for Ram 2500 and 3500 trucks use dual-reservoir shocks and large
Tearing down the suspension, TND stripped the frame to bare metal and painted it semigloss black in preparation for the new suspension. That suspension came by way of Kelderman's 8- to 10-inch adjustable air-ride lift kit with Firestone airbags, chromed Kelderman/Sway-a-Way reservoir shocks, and a rear four-link kit with sway bar. An AccuAir digital air controller keeps the truck riding level, and allows for instant raising and lowering. That accumulation of parts alone would make the Ram a tough-looking truck, but TND had more in mind. After smoothing, prepping, and sending the lift kit off to be chrome plated, Tim had himself a show-ready suspension kit. Not settling for just chrome, the axles, drop-down brackets, and crossmembers were stripped and powerdercoated a dark orange hue. That would have been enough work for most of us, but the attention to detail and the desire to go the extra mile is what really separates this truck from the mainstream.
After purchasing a pair of PML 14-bolt diff covers, Tim had them sent out for copper plating. Several of the Kelderman brackets that weren't chromed or powdercoated also received the unique copper treatment. Still not done, Tim stole a trick typically reserved for custom big rigs and ordered up hundreds of chrome bolt caps for nearly every bolt on the suspension. The overall look is stunning. For TND, it was mission accomplished. Capping off the adjustable lift, 24-inch American Force E-Clip wheels with—you guessed it—copper-plated inserts were mounted inside 37-inch Toyo M/T tires.
Looking like an old west brand, Don Serrano applied the western-themed graphics using Hous
With all of the attention paid to the underside of the Ram, TND switched their focus to the body and started by shaving the roof clearance lights, tailgate emblems, and body-worked the Fab Fours front and rear bumpers for paint. Don Serrano of Serrano Custom Designs also of Ceres, then stepped in and filled his spray gun with House of Kolors Shimrin Cinnamon Pearl with Pearl Brown and Gold. Don's expert paint skill gave the dualie a unique look with western-themed graphics. Seemingly branded onto the sheetmetal, the graphics go a long way towards making this Ram stand out in a crowd. Completing the rugged yet custom look, TND had an RBP RX-2 grille copper-plated, added a Vision-X LED light bar up front with smaller Vision-X LED lights in the rear bumper, and slipped on an 8-inch MBRP polished exhaust tip. Inside the cabin, the Longhorn special-edition leather was left unmolested, while the dash received a splash of exterior-matching color. Amp Research powered running boards help fortunate passengers hop into the truck.
Appropriately dubbing the truck "Desperado," we can envision this dualie being the ride of choice for any outlaw wanting to arrive to a rodeo, saloon, or old west duel in style.
It's not every day you see copper plating under a 4WD truck.
Inside the Build
Year Make Model: 2012 Ram 3500 dualie
Owner and City/State: Tim Nicolau • Ceres, California
Type: Cummins 6.7L Turbo I-6
Induction: H&S intake manifold with K&N cool-air intake
Exhaust: MBRP 5-inch polished stainless
Engine Management: H&S Mini Maxx
Output: 580 hp and 1,085 lb-ft
Built by: Tim Nicolau Designs
Setting a new standard for show truck undercarriages, Tim’s dualie combines chrome, powerd
Transmission: Six-speed auto
Rearend: 3.73 gears
Front suspension: Kelderman Air-Ride 8-10-inch, Firestone airbags, Kelderman/Sway-a-Way dual shocks, steering stabilizer
Rear suspension: Kelderman Air-Ride 8-10-inch, Kelderman four-link with Panhard, Firestone airbags, Kelderman/Sway-a-Way shocks, Kelderman 1⅜ sway bar
Brakes: Factory heavy-duty discs with stainless braided front lines
Wheels & Tires
Wheels: 24x8.25-inch American Force E-Clips with custom copper plating
Tires: 37x13.50R24 Toyo Open Country M/T