2002 Dodge Ram - Alpha Dog
Steve Bucaro's Butterscotch Ram Leads the Pack in Sound and Style
Steve Bucaro is one lucky guy -- on several levels. First off, he survived a horrific motorcycle accident that nearly ended his life and left him without the use of his legs, necessitating a radical life change. Attacking adversity head on, he used the buildup of his first project truck as therapy, as he put his life back in order in the aftermath of his brush with death. That project truck, a yellow last-generation Ram, attracted the attention of the marketing team at DaimlerChrysler, which saw fit to hand him the keys to a then-new '02 Ram in the fall of 2002, just in the nick of time for a buildup that landed him in the Mopar Speedshop booth at the 2002 SEMA Show.
Since then, Bucaro, like the Blues Brothers, has been on a mission from God, spreading the gospel that anything you can do with a Ford or a Chevy, you can do with a Dodge. In the process, he serves as an inspiration to those who sometimes find what seems like insurmountable obstacles placed in their path. Not only has Bucaro built an outstanding sport truck, his modifications, such as the front and rear hinged doors on the driver side, made it more accessible for his wheelchair. Think of it as a mobility-enhanced sport truck for those who won't say no.
His level of enthusiasm and energy is infectious, and not only did it attract the attention of the image team, it attracted the attention of a sponsor list that would be the envy of far more experienced builders. One of his biggest backers is Rick Andersen at audio-supplier Alphasonik. "You can't help but be impressed by what Steve's accomplished," says Andersen. "When we were presented with the opportunity to get behind Steve, we jumped at the opportunity. His truck is a statement piece, so much so that it took no prodding for us to build Alphasonik's 2004 marketing campaign around it, starting at the 2004 CES Show. There we had it in our booth and it was our 2004 poster vehicle. And we had our model/spokesperson Candi Payne in our booth signing posters."
From stem to stern, Bucaro's Ram is Alphasonik-equipped but with a practical side: His rear subwoofer enclosure takes up only the passenger side, the spot behind his seat is designed to store his wheelchair, and access is enhanced by the rear-hinged driver-side rear door. As with his interior, his mobility device is trimmed in matching upholstery by Revo and the wizards at Stitchcraft, who were also responsible for the installation of his upgraded ICE (in-car entertainment) system. The centerpiece is the subwoofer enclosure, a volcano of sorts that houses a trio of Alphasonik's best 12-inch subwoofer, the PSW812, which features a rugged die-cast frame. Along the back wall of the cab, Revo and the Stitchcraft team installed a pair of sleek low-profile Alphasonik amplifiers; a four-channel, 640-watt PMA640HC high-current amp powering two sets of PCT6500 component separates mounted in the factory locations; and an 800-watt PMA800HC for the three subwoofers. Both amplifiers are from Alphasonik's high-current (HC) series, classy with their plexiglass covers and external volt meters. The perfect accent to the orange (matching the butterscotch exterior), the cream and black trim, is a far cry from the standard-issue upholstery originally supplied by Dodge.
In the dash, since Alphasonik does not offer source components, Bucaro turned to Accele Electronics, which supplied its 7-inch in-dash receiver and 5.8-inch monitors that were mounted in each sun visor. Mounted under the front seats is an Accele Electronics DVD/CD player unit to provide the needed source components. With AUX-in capability, it's no sweat for Bucaro to hook up an Xbox to relax with his favorite video games.
Before this butterscotch beauty got its ICE upgrade, it underwent a number of substantial modifications where Jeff Davy, owner of Devious Customs in Ontario, California, totally transformed the Ram in record time for its 2002 SEMA debut. Since the plan called for 24-inch wheels and tires, which, due to the fact that the car was all-new back in 2002, required both creativity and ingenuity. The first call was placed to the Air Lift Company, which provided the necessary components to scrape the tarmac. The Air Lift components included four 2B7 Extreme airbags, two reserve air tanks,1/2-inch air line, and two VIAIR 450 compressors.
To get everything to fit under the Ram's bodywork, Davy had to completely re-engineer the suspension, fabricating custom front A-arms along with making changes to the rear framerails; this was in preparation for the installation of the Devious Customs four-link rear suspension. To keep the suspension under control, after the installation of the airbags, Belltech Nitro Active shocks were mounted at each corner.
The conversion of the driver's rear door comes courtesy of Troy Ullola at Infamous in Ontario, California, who did the vast majority of the initial bodywork before the truck was transferred to the able hands of Steve Deman at Deman Custom Paint in nearby Chino, California. There, the eye-popping PPG Orange Pearl paint was applied. Denman was assisted by "Masa," who calls Chiba, Japan, home, along with Ed McGrath. And to accent the butterscotch-orange paint, the bed was sprayed with a Line-X spray-on truck bedliner, a custom mix supplied by Marcel Venable.
Bucaro knows full well that his truck would never have become a rolling reality without the help and assistance of many friends. They include No Limit Engineering, which supplied the 20-gallon fuel cell; Grant Fabrication, which supplied wheeltubs; Sir Michaels, which supplied the handle relocator kit; Oakley Hunter Dodge; The Car Wash; Eastside Muffler; and Meguiar's, which supplies the car-care products so necessary for keeping that paint in show condition. Bucaro told Sport Truck that his ride has been immortalized in 1/18th scale by Jada Toys, and Keith at 4x4city.com custom-built the model as a 4X4 interpretation, just in case Bucaro ever decides to lift his truck instead of slamming it. Most of all Bucaro, would be remiss in not thanking his mom, who has been there at every step of his long rehabilitation and helps out with transportation logistics.
Finally, Bucaro has parlayed his obvious talents into a new venture, Check Me Out Customs (www.chkmeot.com), in an effort to capitalize on his abilities to put together a custom sport truck program for others. With his experience in building his pair of impressive Rams, Bucaro is uniquely positioned to help others turn their dreams into four-wheeled reality.