A Daily Driver With Attitude

October 27th, 2011

Text and Photos by Kevin Wilson

What sets an automotive enthusiast apart from a regular vehicle owner? An enthusiast rarely leaves anything stock. He modifies, customizes and builds his truck to his own personal tastes, needs and liking. Such is the story behind Ray Smith’s second-gen Dodge 4×4.

You see, Ray was raised with diesels. His father is a diesel mechanic. Ray fondly recalls going to sled pull events as a kid. Ironically, his first hot rod was a Pontiac Firebird with a stroker small block in it and a T-5 five-speed manual, which gave him the modification bug immediately.

But at the encouragement of family and friends, especially the ones from the Ohio Coal Rollers diesel club, Ray took the plunge and got himself a 1999 Dodge fitted with the Cummins 24-valve. And according to Ray, since he “can’t drive a stock vehicle,” the transformation began for the Urbana, Ohio, resident.

Because friends and family talked him into a diesel in the first place, they were the first ones he turned to for help to build the Dodge. Suspension was up first, with the addition of a Skyjacker 4.5-inch lift, complete with custom rear leaf springs, a dropped pitman arm and Skyjacker shocks.

For added traction, Ray fabbed up some cool traction bars for the rear. With plenty of room in the wheel wells, Ray added a set of 35-inch Mickey Thompson Baja ATZ tires mounted on 20×10-inch Mickey Thompson Classic II wheels.

The 24-valve Cummins received its share of attention to help turn the tires with authority. Since deep breathing is essential to making power, the Cummins was fitted with an S&B air intake and S&B intake manifold. A cast three-piece exhaust manifold is fitted with an Engineered Diesel Super 62/68/12 turbo unit, which upped the boost level to slightly more than 50 pounds.

Exhaust from the turbo routes it way though 4-inch tubing to twin Aussie-cut 6-inch stacks. Fueling the 24-valve is a set of Farm Boy Diesel 150 horsepower injectors, controlled by a combination of an Edge Drag Comp and Smarty unit. Backing up the Cummins is a New Venture six-speed manual fitted with a South Bend 3600 DD clutch to handle all the torque.

Visually, what makes this truck stand out at shows is the full chrome front end treatment and bright-blue stripe that runs the length of the truck, starting on the 2.5-inch Reflexxtions cowl induction hood.

Up front, the truck is fitted with a chrome brush guard fitted with two KC driving lights and a billet grille insert for the stock grille. The original headlights were replaced with a 6000 HID kit. And on the tailgate, the blue stripe features a huge Ram logo in the center to set the rig apart from the crowd. Finishing touches include Recon clearance lights on the roof, Westin tubular side steps and body-colored Bushwacker fender flares.

Since it’s a daily driver, Ray opted to keep things simple on the inside. A Pioneer head unit drives signal through twin 12-inch subs in an enclosure under the rear seat, and Pioneer speakers were placed in the stock locations. A full set of Isspro gauges mounted in an A-pillar pod, complete with a location for the stock stereo tweeter, helps keep track of things under the hood.

Ray says, “It’s not perfect, but it’s mine, and I drive it daily. It’s more than a truck to me; it’s a connection to my family and friends, all of whom have helped make this happen. It’s not done yet—and may never be.”

This is in the November 2011 issue.

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