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2014 Ram Express - Draggin’ Wagon

A Contemporary Performance Ram With a Flair for ’70s Nostalgia

Barry Kluczyk
Jun 1, 2016
Photographers: Barry Kluczyk
Inspiration is an elusive thing, but it never seems to be lacking with designer Murray Pfaff. Like an artist who sees a landscape on a blank canvas or a sculpture inside a block of marble, Pfaff has an innate ability to extract a masterpiece from the mundane. That was his challenge for turning a basic, Granite-colored Ram Express into a showstopper. As the next rung up the trim ladder from the fleet-oriented Tradesman model, the Express is Ram’s entry-level consumer truck. But it also offers the Hemi engine and Sure-Grip rear axle, essential ingredients for Pfaff creating his Mopar Draggin’ Wagon —a cooker as well as a looker.
“As much as I wanted it to be a sport truck in every sense of the term, I also planned to use it as a bona-fide shop truck,” Pfaff says. “Starting with the Ram Express was like starting with a blank canvas, because I was able to build up this stripped-down truck just as I wanted.”
Photo 2/13   |   05 2014 Ram 1500 Express Draggin Wagon
That included adding a Magnuson supercharger system, lowering the suspension, re-trimming the cabin, and giving it a graphical makeover that would light up the hearts of Mopar fans from Chrysler’s old headquarters in Highland Park, Michigan and fans of the “Simon & Simon” bachelor pad in Venice Beach (from the ’80s TV series). Dodge’s Macho graphic packages, introduced the late ’70s, were the inspiration for that makeover, as Pfaff whimsically recast the iconic vertical graphics offered on the ’79-’80 models.
“Those graphics from the ’70s were etched in my brain when I was young, and now, almost 40 years later, they represent a time unlike any other,” Pfaff says. “Conveying that on the Draggin’ Wagon was a great way to bridge two eras.”
Photo 3/13   |   07 2014 Ram 1500 Express Draggin Wagon
There are also a number of subtle, yet incredibly detailed, custom touches on the truck that even diehard Ram fans would have trouble spotting at a glance, including a rear bumper that was split, the center step flipped and sectioned, and the signature Ram tailpipe cutouts moved inboard, giving it a thoroughly factory appearance. And up front, Pfaff designed brake-cooling inlets under the headlamp housings and the hood scoop, with the style and texture to match the grille, but they look for all the world like part of the Ram’s standard features. He had them CAD-designed by Classic Design Concepts and 3D-printed by Synergeering Group.
And let’s talk about the headlamps for a moment. They’ve been completely gutted by Lightwerx Offroad and customized with blacked-out housings, smoked reflectors, and all-new projector-beam lamps, along with sequential turn signals. When it came to the auxiliary lighting, Pfaff himself fabricated one-off ram’s horn brackets for a roof-mounted Heise LED lightbar. Finally, check out the graphic messages spelled out on the Toyo tires. The fronts say, “For Turning,” and the rears say, “For Burning.” Clever. They add to the seemingly endless number of custom touches throughout the truck.
Photo 4/13   |   12 2014 Ram 1500 Express Draggin Wagon
In contrast, the Magnuson blower kit was a relatively simple bolt-on affair, which pumped up the already potent Hemi engine from 395 horses to 535 horsepower. It’s enough to give the slammed Ram a satisfying shove up Woodward Avenue, in Royal Oak, Michigan, the cruising hotspot of Detroit’s suburbs, which Pfaff calls home. The engine is backed by Chrysler’s eight-speed automatic and the 3.55-geared Sure-Grip limited-slip rear axle.
“It’s seamless performance,” Pfaff says. “I drive this truck every day like a shop truck, and the supercharger is there when I want it, but it’s otherwise is imperceptible in regular traffic. It’s everything you want in a high-performance package these days.”
Every element on this retro-radiant Ram has been carefully crafted with the attention to detail that’s earned it accolades, such as the Best Modified Dodge at the Muscle Car and Corvette Nationals in Chicago, and a first-in-class award at the Detroit Autorama. But for all of its show-car swagger, it’s still a Home Depot weekend hauler, and one that really hauls! Here’s to inspiration and all it can deliver when backed up with the hard work required to make it a reality. Rick and A.J. Simon would approve.
Photo 5/13   |   08 2014 Ram 1500 Express Draggin Wagon
Inside the build:
Year/Make/Model: ’14 Ram Express
Owner and City/State: Murry Pfaff; Royal Oak, Michigan
Chassis:
Front Suspension: Stock frame and chassis with Belltech 2-inch lowering springs and shocks, Hellwig 1.5-inch solid stabilizer bar, poly bushings;
Rear Suspension: Belltech 4-inch lowering springs and shocks, Hellwig solid 7/8-inch stabilizer bar, poly bushings; Air Lift 1000 air springs with onboard compressor
Brakes: EBC Brakes 13.5-inch rear rotors with Geomet anti-corrosion coating, EBC Orangestuff racing brake pads
Drivetrain:
Engine: Stock Chrysler 5.7-liter Hemi V-8 with Magnuson supercharger system and Eaton 2300 TVS supercharger (7 lbs. boost) installed by RM Motorsports, K&N 63 Series Aircharger cold-air system, AMSOIL 5W-20 synthetic oil, JMS Chip PedalMAX throttle-response improver, Magnaflow stainless steel cat-back exhaust with 5-inch tips and custom tailpipes by Motofab
Transmission: Stock 8HP70 eight-speed automatic
Rearend: Chrysler C235 with 3.55 gears and Sure-Grip limited-slip
Body: Custom eye-black brake ducts and custom hood scoop with intake duct and washboard heat extractor designed by Murray Pfaffl, custom badging, custom rear bumper, color-matched Line-X spray-in bed liner, BAK Industries Revolver X2 hard rolling tonneau cover, AMP Research Bed Xtender, TaleGator tailgate seating, Swing Case storage compartments, custom blacked-out headlamps with projector beams, custom-smoked taillights with sequential turn signals by Lightwerx Offroad, Heise 54-inch dual-row LED lightbar (roof), Heise 42-inch dual-row lightbar (front bumper), and Hella Rallye 4000-X LED driving lights, PPG Envirobase paint sprayed by That’s Minor Customs, Demon Train Horns by Kleinn Automotive Air Horns.
Interior: Black leather with Victorino pattern and yellow contrast stitching by Alea Leather, custom color-matched instrument panel bezel
Stereo: Stock head unit with MTX Audio THUNDER693 6- by 9-inch speakers, Thunderform

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