Regency, the largest van and pickup upfitter in North America, has undergone a major transformation. While it started out doing van conversions, modifying trucks has eclipsed that still-thriving segment of the company. Its trucks have become such a hit that Regency's most popular vehicle in its 25 year history has been the RST Chevy pickup, first issued in 2004. Now it's offering something for the Dodge crowd: an RST half-ton Hemi Ram.
Wayne Davis, the motivating force behind the RST, ran his own restoration shop in Odessa, Texas, for 21 years before becoming president of Regency in 1995. He continues to restore 1960s musclecars as well as 1940s and 1950s American classics. Woodies and finned Mopars join Cadillacs, Buicks, and Oldsmobiles in his collection. Wayne's vehicles have set over 30 world records at national collector-car auctions.
Davis' imprint is obvious on the RST. Aficionados will recognize the musclecar stance from the two-four performance rake (a two-inch drop up front and four in the rear). As Nick Carter, sales manager, explains, "Wayne likes a little rake, rather than the truck sitting perfectly flat, to give it a nostalgic musclecar look." Also, slammed to the ground with the same drop front and rear, the truck wouldn't ride as well.
Without careful tuning, the combination of a lowered suspension plus the Ram's Foose-designed 22-inch wheels could've meant a rougher ride. However, Regency contracted Ground Force to tune the suspension specifically for this Dodge. It still uses the factory rear leaf springs, which retains stock payload and pulling capacities. However, the rear springs now ride on top of the rear axle housing, instead of in the factory location underneath. This new geometry meant repositioning the fuel tank. Stiffer gas shocks and front coils were added to maintain the truck's factory ride and reduce body roll.
When Carter took us for a ride in the Ram, he floored the throttle like a car salesman trying to impress a customer. And even though the 5.7-liter Hemi is stock, the truck's exhaust system isn't. It makes a throaty musclecar sound and adds 10-15 more horses to the 345 V 8. The one transmission choice is the five-speed automatic that comes with the Hemi from the factory. For those who opt for the 4.7 liter, Regency offers a Mopar six-speed.
Getting behind the wheel of this truck, the first cool feature we encountered was the thick carbon-fiber steering wheel. Another huge plus is the seats, which are more comfortable than anything stock. Regency reupholsters them with black leather bolsters and black suede inserts with red perforations, highlighted with Fire Red stitching. The door panels get the same treatment. The bench seat's leather headrests feature the RST logo.
Although the Hemi-powered Regency Dodge RST won't break records getting to 60 mph (about 8.0-8.5 seconds by our stopwatch), the combination of a taut suspension fitted with 22x9.5-inch wheels, a Hemi V-8, and a blackout hood makes this RST a sweet package for any muscle-truck driver.
• Speedster chrome 22x9.5-inch wheels
• 22-inch performance radial tires
• Power Flow exhaust
• Regency sport-tuned suspension
• Billet-aluminum grille, color-keyed insert
• Stainless-steel emblems
• Billet license-plate frames
• Color-keyed factory mirrors
• Color-keyed steel rollpan, molded exhaust ports
• Tailgate spoiler, graphics
• RST exterior graphics
• Color-keyed bumper cap
• Three-year/36,000-mile warranty
• 40/20/40 black perforated suede seat, red highlights
• Leather door panels, Fire Red stitching
• Leather steering wheel, Fire Red stitching
• Black molded carpet
• Deep-tinted windows
• Sport-enhanced carbon masked dash kit
• Chrome Regency shifter w/leather boot
• Polished-aluminum pedals• Stainless-steel dash, red illuminated gauges/needles