This '97 Ram Drew First Blood from Its Owner
Mopar owners really love their vehicles. They aren't as common as the Chevrolet and Ford pickups, but their owners take great pride in customizing them. It's a labor of love that, despite setbacks, problems, and even injuries, Mopar fans keep dedicating their enthusiasm to building these vehicles to the limits of customizing and performance.
It's during the customizing process that we often scrape our knuckles, smash a thumb, or burn an arm. Darby Fricks poked a hole in his foot after a drill bit snagged on his Dodge Ram's frame, but he didn't give up on the project. In fact, he became even more dedicated into making it a show-winning pickup.
Darby was often the subject of several jokes when he would attend truck shows without something to display. Thus, he purchased the Ram for the sole purpose of creating what he calls his Joker's Revenge. The transformation from stock truck to cool custom began when he C-notched the frame and lowered the truck 8 inches in the front and rear. A set of Belltech spindles and Nitro shocks is used with Air Ride Technologies air spring system to set the truck on the ground. A fast bag kit from West Coast Customs allows Darby to raise and lower the truck quickly and precisely with a flick of the switch. The suspension is showcased with a set of Billet Specialties Phantom wheels measuring 20x8.5 inches and mounted on a set of Michelin 245/40R20 Pilot tires.
Under the hood, Pete Beck prepared a 360 Mopar block that is outfitted with a Mopar performance camshaft, Crane performance rocker arms, and a ported and polished intake manifold assembled by Paul Morgan. A Gibson exhaust system, coupled to a Mopar performance header system, allows Darby to rumble through the show grounds and turn heads on the highway.
On the outside, some of the more obvious customizing techniques are evident, but there are others that require a trained eye to catch. One is the use of Toyota Supra taillights that were shaved and molded into the Sir Michaels roll pan. Up front, a Street Scene speed grille was installed along with clear corner lenses and a cowl-induction hood. The paint selection is true to the heart of Mopar fans because Darby selected Mopar Get 'Em Green and Plum Crazy, vintage musclecar colors of the past. Pete Ousley of Grovetown, Georgia, laid out the paint scheme, which resembles upward flames and applied the PPG paint. Inside the Plum Crazy portion of the truck are graphics that are coated in Harlequin paint that changes from blue to red and silver to green depending on where you face the truck.
Inside, the Ram is just as flamboyant as its exterior. The first thing you notice is the leather and tweed upholstery that was stitched by Redman's Upholstery in Augusta, Georgia. But the upholstery is just the canvas from which Darby can show off his awesome audio and video system. Emanating from a custom-made center console, an Eclipse monitor displays the signal from the system's VCR or the Sony PlayStation. An Eclipse head unit also controls the multi-disc CD changer as well as provides the basis for incredible sound from the MB Quart speakers located in the doors. A custom speaker enclosure houses two, 10-inch RF Punch subwoofers that is located under the rear seat. Kenwood amplifiers provide the power that is filtered through a MB Quart equalizer. The result is boom and bass that wakes up the neighborhood and sounds that tell onlookers that Darby's Ram is on the way.
At last year's Nopi Show, the truck won several awards including Truckin's Editor's Choice. Although the truck may seem finished, Darby has other intentions; his Joker's Revenge will have the last laugh.