Three-and-a-Half Tons of Fun
It takes a lot of momentum (and a lot of cajones) to launch a big diesel truck. It’s not like a half-ton truck with a small-block V-8; there is a lot of weight wrapped up in a 3/4-ton package, and even more weight encompassed in the Cummins block of Carlos Calderon’s 2001 Dodge 4x4.
So what made this owner of Calderon Tire in Santa Maria, California—who has seen his fair share of repairs come out of the sand dunes and to his shop after bad mishaps—still fly his diesel Dodge like it had propellers on the front? Carlos blames it on his gender. Just because a guy knows it’s the wrong thing to do and that it could lead to disaster, there’s no guarantee it still won’t be done in the name of fun. And we’d back Carlos up in a second on that one.
The 24-valve Cummins diesel engine puts the rest of the drivetrain through quite a workout with over 650 lb-ft of torque. A K&N air intake sucks air into a stock turbo and through a BD intercooler to a Banks Monster-Ram intake elbow. The tune has been tweaked with a Hypertech programmer, but the internals of the engine have been left alone. The engine exhausts through a BD exhaust manifold, Banks exhaust brake, and pours out through a single 6-inch pipe.
Carlos originally started out with an RCD lift kit, but the coil springs are just about the only kit pieces left. Inside those coils are King 2.5 smooth-body shocks, and next to them are King 2.5 triple-bypass shocks. Synergy limiting straps keep the weight of the axle from pulling on the 12-inch-stroke King shocks. The Dirt Designs upper shock hoop captures both the smooth-body and bypass shock.
A Thuren track bar holds the axle laterally, while a Thuren rod end steering kit turns the Dana 60 knuckles in the correct direction while a Fox steering stabilizer damps any vibrations.
Starting at the top and working our way down, that is a Rigid Industries 50-inch LED bar on JLM roof mounts. It pairs with an amber 50-inch LED bar mounted on the 1.75-inch tube bumper and skidplate that was put together by Dirt Designs.
The front axle truss was also a creation of Dirt Designs that makes sure the Dana 60 axle doesn’t end its life as easily as the first couple housings that Carlos bent up.
Not wanting to screw around, Carlos ended up with some giant King 3.5 quintuple-bypass remote-reservoir shocks attached to a simple bed cage created by Dirt Designs. The bed cage was designed to take up the minimal amount of room in the bed. Two Optima Yellow Top batteries were moved into the bed corners to redistribute weight.
Being the owner of a tire shop, it makes sense that Carlos carries not just one but two spares in the back of his bed.