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A Cool Old-School Dodge Ram

Old-School Dodge Ram

Jason Sands
Oct 30, 2017
Photographers: Jason Sands
When building his ’91½ Dodge W250, Evan Ratcliff didn’t simply bolt on parts, he reengineered the entire vehicle. There isn’t one portion of the frame, suspension, steering, body, or engine that isn’t massaged or modified in some form, with Evan doing most of the work himself. To the curious onlooker, the W250 appears to just be a clean stock truck. Trust us, it’s not.
Engine modifications were first on Evan’s list of upgrades. Since he wanted a solid powerplant, Evan disassembled and inspected the 5.9L Cummins engine and then rebuilt it, adding a Marine camshaft, 24-valve tappets, ARP cylinder-head studs, and 60-pound valvesprings. He also ported the head for better airflow. The Holset turbocharger is fitted with a Gillett Diesel Services 60mm compressor upgrade, and the modified VE injection pump features a 3,200-rpm governor spring and a fuel pin of Evan’s own design.
Photo 2/20   |   Rated at 160 hp and 400 lb-ft from the factory, the VE-pumped 5.9L Cummins engine in Evan Ratcliff's ’91½ Dodge W250 now makes 304 hp and 809 lb-ft, thanks to a host of simple, effective modifications.
Photo 3/20   |   One of the biggest contributors to increased performance is this Gillett Diesel Services 60mm compressor wheel for the Holest turbocharger. The turbo’s original turbine wheel and 1.37 A/R housing are retained to keep drive pressure down.
Staying with his do-it-yourself theme, Evan tackled rebuilding the stock A518 four-speed automatic transmission (non-lockup). His laundry list of parts includes a lot of inexpensive but important components, such as an Alto Products clutch set, upgraded servo and strut levers, and an aftermarket Second gear band. Replacing the intermediate shaft with a later model is also a neat trick, as it allows Evan to use the steel planetary of a later transmission (the A518 uses aluminum planets). The final touch is a RevMax high-stall converter, which allows the truck to leave hard yet locks up nicely on the top end.
When a fender bender rumpled the truck’s original front-end sheetmetal, Evan decided it was time to address the body and chassis needs. The rear suspension is fitted with Bilstein shocks, which are located vertically on the frame. The front suspension received the lion's share of attention, as Evan designed a crossover-steering setup for the truck using a two-wheel-drive steering box. Evan also built the upgrade’s drag link, pitman arm, and track bar, which collectively give the truck much-improved handling over stock, virtually eliminating bumpsteer.
The truck’s body is the last area to receive attention. The front fenders have an inch taken out and are trimmed an additional 3 inches to clear the front tires. Evan also made a sleek, stylish front bumper and then mixed a custom conglomeration of orange paint that he applied to the body panels piece by piece in his garage.
Evan’s first-gen Dodge might not run 10-second e.t.’s like a drag truck or have the typical show truck’s 16-inch lift, but it’s loaded with subtle modifications and upgrades that Evan executed. One thing is certain: Evan's ’91½ Dodge is one of the cleanest owner-built trucks we’ve seen in quite some time.
Photo 4/20   |   Another airflow improvement comes in the form of a second-generation (’94-to-’98) Dodge Ram intercooler, which outflows the first-gen unit. It is a tight fit in the older truck, but Evan made it work.
Photo 5/20   |   A second-generation intake horn completes the engine’s airflow upgrade.
Photo 6/20   |   The interior is much like it was when the truck rolled off the assembly line. Evan installed a simple parts-store pressure gauge for measuring boost—thats it.
Photo 7/20   |   The bed remains pretty simple, with a coating of bedliner and an in-bed toolbox Evan acquired from Will's Far-Go in Veedersburg, Indiana.
Photo 8/20   |   Evan says adding Bilstein shocks at all four corners of the truck is one of the best modifications he made. Handling and ride quality are much improved by the upgrade.
Photo 9/20   |   Evan used his experience at work (JB’s 4x4 Inc. in Kingman, Indiana) to build a completely new steering setup. A two-wheel-drive steering box was fitted on the truck, along with a new pitman arm and drag link. Evan says the new steering setup is much better than stock.
Photo 10/20   |   The rear of the W250 is at the stock height, which works well with the 315/75R16 Cooper Discoverer tires mounted on 16-inch Weld Racing wheels Evan found on the Internet.
Photo 11/20   |   The truck’s most stunning feature is the sleek yet strong front bumper, which Evan fabricated.
Photo 12/20   |   When you look really close, you’ll see the bottom part of the truck is coated with Line-X to guard against rock chips and nasty road grime.
Photo 13/20   |   Evan also welded most of the exhaust system. Starting with a 4-inch downpipe from Diamond Eye Performance, the exhaust expands into 5 inches before terminating in a polished, 6-inch tip.
Photo 14/20   |   Evan leaves the line hard at the dragstrip thanks to a 5,740-pound curb weight. While the truck normally cuts 1.70-second 60-foot e.t.’s, Evan has recorded a 1.62-second short time on a unicorn pass, which resulted in a 9.31-second-at-72-mph-eighth-mile time slip.
Year/Make/Model: ’91½ Dodge W250
Owner: Evan Ratcliff
Hometown: Hillsborough, Indiana
Odometer: 210,000 miles
Engine: 5.9L Cummins I-6, Killer Dowel Pin kit, Marine camshaft, 24-valve tappets, 60-pound valvesprings, ported cylinder head with ARP studs
Fuel: Modified 12mm VE injection pump, 3,200-rpm governor spring
Air: Holset turbocharger with Gillett Diesel Services 60mm compressor upgrade, second-generation (’94-to-’98) Dodge Ram intercooler and intake horn
Exhaust: Diamond Eye Performance 4-inch downpipe, 5-into-6-inch exhaust with polished tip
Transmission: Dodge A518 four-speed automatic, Alto Products clutches, aftermarket Second gear band and strut, TransGo shift kit, 48RE intermediate shaft, steel planetary, RevMax high-stall converter
Horsepower: 304 hp
Torque: 809 lb-ft
Tire: 315/75R16 Cooper Discoverer
Wheels: 16x10 Weld Racing
Suspension: Bilstein shocks, relocated rear shock mounts, front 2.5-inch Skyjacker lift springs, custom crossover-steering system, two-wheel-drive steering box, TSM Manufacturing rear disc brakes
Body: Custom orange paint, front bumper, trimmed front and rear fenders
Fun Fact: Evan says bigger injectors are the next addition for his truck’s engine, as long as he can keep it relatively smoke-free.

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