An Evolved Ram – A 2002 Dodge Ram Evolves Into a Real Beast
We’re often confronted with situations that test our temper, patience, and ability to see the bright side of things. For Jake Anderson and his ’02 Dodge Ram 2500, a fender bender initially annoyed him, but the mishap eventually led him to create the beautiful silver beast shown.
Many people would have huffed, puffed, and sent their beloved trucks to body shops, then sat and stewed until the repairs were completed. That wasn’t the case for Jake, who decided to use the downtime to gather the parts and pieces that would transform his Ram from a reasonably powerful cruiser to a true monster that also features subtle and cool body modifications to ensure its looks match its performance. In just a little more than three years, Jake performed engine upgrades that more than doubled the 5.9L Cummins engine’s stock power output and modernized the rig’s interior.
Don’t mistake this pickup for a temperamental dyno queen. It’s a great-driving, often-used, highway-cruising bruiser that packs 750-plus hp and more than 1,300 lb-ft of torque.
Since almost every truck build’s story is unique, let’s start at the beginning for Jake’s Dodge Ram 2500. When he acquired the truck in early 2014, it was a nice and mostly stock rig with 98,000 miles on the odometer. The original owner had freshened up the 24-valve Cummins with only a Diamond Eye 4-inch–diameter exhaust and an Edge Products EZ programmer. With the truck being cared for and well maintained, Jake jumped at the chance to buy it. The relatively dry Montana climate and extremely limited exposure to corrosive road salt preserved the Ram’s original steel body and underside.
“Within two weeks of owning the truck, I installed the BD Diesel Performance Tow and Track compound-turbocharger kit, along with Snow Performance water-methanol injection,” Jake says. “The truck stayed like that for about half a year and made 666 hp on the dyno with that setup. I was looking for a change, so I replaced the compounds with High Tech Turbo’s single 64mm ’charger and used it until late 2014.” After that, Jake added an Industrial Injection–massaged BorgWarner S480 turbo to the mix, and the truck actually remained virtually unchanged for most of 2015…until the aforementioned unfortunate fender bender set this Dodge Ram on a different course.
Someone backed into Jake’s truck, causing damage so bad that a paint-less dent removal outfit could not fix it. The truck had to go to a body shop, and this is where the owner’s attitude and thought process took over. Some people deal with situations like this with a very dark demeanor, asking such questions (to no one in particular) as: “Will my truck ever look the same again?” or, “Will it ever drive the same?”
Instead of approaching it that way—being annoyed and skeptical—Jake took the high road. He saw opportunity. “This was a chance to get all the paint and body work I had been thinking about, so I had Harrison’s Paint and Body in Missoula, Montana, handle it,” Jake says. “This is when the fourth-generation bumper was installed, along with the cowl hood, LED taillights, and the roll pan. The team at Harrison’s also debadged the whole truck while it was in their shop.”
Something else happened while the Ram was being worked on. Jake started making phone calls for engine parts he had been thinking about buying. As well as those compound turbos were working, he knew they would work even better with valvetrain upgrades. “While the truck was in the paint shop, I ordered a Colt Cams Big Stick Stage 3 camshaft and Industrial Injection 110-pound valvesprings, as well as the Dynomite Diesel Products 6x.014 injectors,” Jake explains. Not stopping there, Jake made a call to Firepunk Diesel that netted a Stage 1 47RE four-speed automatic transmission. Some time at the powdercoating shop produced the engine’s screaming green tubing and valve cover that reflect light when the hood is opened. If Jake’s story isn’t a study in how to make lemonade out of lemons, we really don’t know what is. “I made a lot of upgrades all at once, and it really changed the truck,” Jake says.
“I really like the turbos, and they run hard. I have seen 78 psi of boost on the street.”
If there was one moment of frustration Jake may have experienced, it was on the chassis dyno at Advanced Diesel Works in Montana. The truck was ready to attack the rollers, but at that first event post-rebuild, it made “only” 635 hp. Jake quickly surmised that the torque converter was too tight and needed to be reworked. Raising the stall to 2,200 rpm garnered near-immediate results and 753 hp. “The camshaft really allows the engine to rev,” Jake tells us. “I have pulled the motor to 4,000 rpm, and it really seems to like it. I have not had any problems. I may get more aggressive with the torque converter and move the stall to 2,800 or 3,000 rpm to help get the truck off the line.” The rig runs consistently at 7.50 seconds in eighth-mile drag-racing competition, which theoretically puts it in the upper end of the 11-second range in the quarter. “Right now, with the converter that’s in it, I cannot turn the motor enough to make good boost for launching. I’m going to fix that,” Jake says.
So let the story of Jake Anderson and his killer ’02 Dodge Ram 2500 be a lesson for you. When confronted with a less-than-ideal situation, look for ways to make the most out of it. Find ways to take advantage. By having the time to consider and gather the parts he wanted, Jake ended up with a hard-running, great looking, well-performing rig that’ll be that way for years to come. That is, unless someone else lacks the ability to use a rearview mirror. If that happens, all bets are off!
Fast Facts:Year/Make/Model: ’02 Dodge Ram 2500
Owner: Jake Anderson
Hometown: Missoula, Montana
Fuel economy: 15mpg city/20 mpg highway/10mpg towing
Engine: 5.9L Cummins I-6, Colt Cams “Big Stick” Stage 3 camshaft, Industrial Injection 110-pound valvesprings
Fuel: AirDog 150-gph lift pump, standard-output VP44 injection pump, Dynomite Diesel Products 6x.014 injectors, Snow Performance MPG-MAX water-methanol injection system
Air: Industrial Injection–modified BorgWarner S480 turbocharger and a High Tech Turbo billet-wheel 64mm charger, Adrenaline Performance air-intake elbow, AFE Power intercooler boots, clamps, custom piping
Exhaust: BD Diesel Performance three-piece manifold with T3-style flange, 4-inch Diamond Eye Performance tubing
Transmission: 47RE four-speed Stage 1 automatic by Firepunk Diesel
Fluids: Shell Rotella 15W-40 engine oil, Dexron 3 ATF, 75W-140 synthetic gear oil
Horsepower: 753 hp
Torque: 1,316 lb-ft
Tires: 35x12.50R20 Cooper STT
Wheels: 20-inch Moto Metal 962
Axles: Dana 60 with 3.50 gears (front); Dana 80 with 3.50 gears (rear)
Body: Fourth-generation Ram front bumper, rear roll pan, LED taillights, all badges stripped, paint is a stock silver color
Interior: Kenwood touchscreen stereo, Auto Meter transmission-temperature and boost gauges, Edge Products CTS programmer, Snow Performance MPG-MAX monitor
Fun Fact: Jake is only the second owner of this truck. He has more than doubled its stock horsepower in about three years.