When I asked C.T. McDonald to take his '07 Dodge Mega Cab 2500 off the sand dune we were standing on at the time, I had no idea he was going to duct-tape his right foot to the floor. When was the last time you saw a truck weighing over 8,000 pounds launching over a lip? Better yet, when was the last time you saw something like this and both the driver and vehicle walked away unharmed? Not often.
As soon as he took off and headed for the lip, memories of Glamis filled my head of watching people throw their vehicles through whoop sections meant for Trophy Trucks and attempt to become heroes trying to hit the Robby Gordon jump. Not a moment later, I checked my camera to be sure it was armed and ready, found my spot, and let the shutter fly. The last thing I remember hearing as the truck was soaring above was the truck's fabricator standing behind me saying, Holy !%@*!"
Let's start under the hood where it becomes obvious that this truck is a torque beast. The stock 5.9L Dodge Cummins Turbodiesel is already quite a performer, but it just wasn't enough for C.T. He headed down to Banks and picked up the new Big Hoss kit, which gives his rig an additional 126 hp and 290 lb-ft of torque. Oh yeah, that's to the rear wheels as well. The kit comes complete with the Six-Gun diesel tuner, PowerPDA Vehicle Command Center, Ram-Air intake system, Techni-Cooler intercooler system, BigHead wastegate actuator, Monster exhaust system, and Monster muffler. Somewhere in there was a partridge in a pear tree too - we must have just missed it. Sure, you can purchase all of these systems separately, but if "go big or go home" is your attitude, then doing it all at once is a must. This kit provides loads of power and precise tuning, and it sounds incredible and comes with a great warranty package from Banks.
So, you must be wondering what suspension system is on this truck that allowed C.T. to push his it to what I would say is definitely over the limit. Before getting into the specifics, I do want to mention that just because you see a truck like this jumping through the air doesn't mean you should try this on your own. Please off-road safely and use common sense. Even the highest-dollar race car can break if you don't know what you're doing behind the wheel. Hopefully, you understand what I mean.
When it came time to get the truck lifted, C.T. wanted more than just your average lift kit. He knew he liked big trucks but felt discouraged because most of them you see running around the streets aren't built with off-road performance in mind. He turned to Carli Suspension to install its Advanced Dominator 3.0 suspension system. I can tell you from firsthand experience that this was one of the best-performing Dodge trucks I have seen of this size in a long time. The kit comes with 4130 chrome-moly control arms, King 3.0 reservoir shocks, a progressive spring pack, custom-wound coil springs, zinc-plated U-bolts, stainless steel sway-bar end links with FK bearings, billet shock towers, limit straps, a track bar, reservoir mounts, high-misalignment spacers, a tower-strut brace, a rock shield, dual steering stabilizers, and King hydraulic air bumps. It seems like C.T. employs a common theme when it comes to systems for his truck: He likes them very well thought out and complete - do it right the first time instead of collecting a ton of various parts and hoping they all work together.
We spent a good couple of hours tearing up the dirt in Lucerne Valley, California, for this photo shoot. I hate to say it, but this truck was beating me through whoops, through the sand, and over some small rock gardens the entire day. Both Banks Engineering and Carli Suspension did their homework and provided this Dodge with just what it needed.
As you can see from the photos, there is more to the truck than what I mentioned. Glassworks Unlimited provided the front fiberglass fenders and the rear fiberglass bedsides. The fiberglass allows the 37x13.50R15 Toyo Open Country M/T tires wrapped around custom-powdercoated Walker Evans 17x8.5 wheels to clear without trimming. Simon's Auto Body of Laguna Hills, California, laid a fresh coat of matching silver paint to the glass. Carrying the spare tire is a PreRunner-model TireGate.The TireGate is really a great product that allows you to mount the spare tire facing in, or you can flip the entire gate around and run the tire facing out.
C.T. knew he wanted a nice set of front and rear bumpers, but nothing off the shelf was appealing to him. So, once again he called the guys at Carli and had them fabricate some impressive TIG-welded bumpers to hold his Hella Rallye 4000 lights and skidplate up front. Take a close look at the craftsmanship of the bumpers: It's topnotch. Beautiful welding and some great dimple-die work as well.
At the end of the day, C.T. proved to us why his truck should grace the cover of OFF-ROAD. The vehicle was well thought out, it performed incredibly in the dirt, and it was built with quality components by experienced, reputable companies. Of course, the owner's skills behind the wheel made it that much more of an exciting feature.
OK, maybe we should rephrase that and say a little luck behind the wheel can go a long way!