Juan Calderon, who hails from Santa Maria, CA, loves to do things just a bit differently. First, he took a 2001 Dodge Ram 2500 4x4 diesel powered truck and turned it into a fully decked-out pre runner, and along the way he turned it into a 2wd.
He had help though, as he took a trip to Atascadero CA, where the original Dodge frame that was custom back-halved with a 2-inch SCORE and BITD race legal cage by the very capable crew at Dirt Designs. Producing 31-inches of travel, the Dirt Designs 4-link uses DD trailing arms and uses FK rod ends and as with front suspension, Poly Performance limiting straps are used. A trussed Dana70 features a Detroit locker with Richmond gears (4:56) and a 10.5-inch ring gear.
King Shocks 3.0 Race Series coilovers along with 4.5 Race Series 7-tube bypass shocks provide the dampening and a set of 2.5 King Bump Stops are there when all comes to a crashing halt.
Dirt Designs also did the front suspension and the huge J-Beam front end and custom made and Tig welded Dirt Designs spindles, Stage 8 locking hubs and Yukon billet aluminum snouts, using 1.25-inch Uniballs and 1.5 Uniball pivots. All rod-ends are FK units, the pitman arm has double sheer capabilities and Fastenall hardware was used throughout. Minh Huynh at Bench Works Steering custom made the steering box by using a PSC Steering Ram Assist pump and reservoir.
As with the rear, King Shocks are used to control the action. This time 3.0 Race Series coil over shocks are used along with 4.0 6-tube bypass units, though again it’s 2.5 King Bump Stops there to put a stop to things when they get out of hand.
Front and back one will find slotted and drilled Stop Tech rotors are clamped with ST calipers that utilize EBC Yellow Stuff pads. Other front and back items are the Ultra X103 Race Beadlock wheels that have been mounted with 39-inch BFGoodrich KR Projects that feature a custom grooving.
The cab and doors are still Dodge Ram pieces, but that’s all as Hannemann front fenders and Trailer Products “Walker Evans” rear bedsides replaced their steel counterparts. Once they had them on, Premier Auto Body of Santa Maria applied the Metallic Grey paint to the various pieces.
With the cloud of smoke that the Cummins puts out, good lighting was needed, so Calderon seemingly bought out the Baja Designs catalog. First there’s a quartet of BD XL Pro Squadron lights attached to the push bar while a pair of OnX Light Bars have been installed into the air dam. Another Squadron with an amber lens acts as a dust light while a pair of S2’s, one amber and one red, has been flush mounted into a back panel.
As rough as the exterior is, te interior is downright plush as there’s carpeting and padded leather sleeves cover the extensive interior caging. The pair of Beard Ultra T1 seats has been equipped with 3-inch Crow harnesses. The steering wheel and dash is stock, though the dash is now is equipped with Auto Meter gauges.
A custom center console houses the Art Carr/Winters shifter, a Rugged Radios intercom and a PCI Race Radio a 5-inch Lowrance Baja GPS unit and all the switches needed to operate the many electrical devices, such as the Parker Pumper clean air system. A larger 7-inch Lowrance GPS unit has replaced the passenger side air bag.
Last but not least, let’s talk about the Cummins engine. It’s a turbocharged inline 6 with 24 valves and measures out to 5.9L, or 359ci for us non-Europeans. The turbo in question is a DB Diesel Killer B Special 74mm turbo that is attached to a BD Diesel Race Manifold with a Power Monster Ram Horn made by another great name in diesel engine performance, Banks. The system is cooled with a BD Diesel Intercooler.
A set of 150hp Industrial Injection injectors put in the fuel thanks to the BD lift pump, while a custom designed Dirt Designs muffler is connected to the engine with a 4-inch down pipe that’s been wrapped with a titanium exhaust wrap. Power is estimated at 500hp with 800lb.ft of torque.
Routing all that power is done with a custom built 47RE transmission by Gars Transmissions of Paso Robes, CA. It includes billet input, output and intermediate shafts, a custom Sun Coast manual valve body along with a custom 3-clutch torque converter. The Texas REFI racing oil is cooled by twin CBR TT coolers that utilize SPAL fans and the huge BD Diesel trans pan holds extra fluid for those long hauls.
Calderon says that the Ram has been a racer, a pre-runner, a daily-driven grocery getter and that he has taken long trips in it to places where great off-roading was to be found. He says that the Ram is comfortable, very reliable and super fun to drive. Were sure all that’s true, but he didn’t say what may be the most fun of all: smoking the competition.