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1996 Dodge Ram 1500 Big Red Machine

Posted in Features on June 20, 2017
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Since the demise of the Comanche in 1992, people have been clamoring for a Jeep pickup. What if we told you that the 1993-2002 Dodge Ram is basically a Jeep truck. Hear us out. They come with a 318 or 360 engine and basically use a scaled-up version of the suspension found under the Comanche, all with a full frame and solid axles. Brian Bohrer is a Jeep guy, but when it came time to build a truck he started with a 1996 Dodge Ram 1500 rather than a Comanche or J truck.

Brian took the truck to Luke Shuman at Hazzard Fab.Worx, where they turned the 1/2-ton Ram into a rockcrawling monster worthy of the Jeep name. A custom coilover suspension, 1-ton axles, a supercharged V-8, and 42-inch Krawlers are just the tip of the iceberg on this truck, which is oozing with trick little features from nose to tail. The red paint had just finished drying when we caught up with Brian on Pritchett Canyon, where the truck made its maiden voyage during this year’s Easter Jeep Safari. We are happy to report that the Jeepers accepted Brian, and his truck, as one of their own.

Hazzard Fab.Worx built the bed cage out of 1.75x0.120-wall DOM tubing. It serves multiple purposes, including protecting the occupants, protecting the bed from rocks, and providing a secure place to mount the 42-inch spare tire, Hi-Lift jack, spare drivelines, Memphis Audio wakeboard speakers, and more.
The 5.9L Magnum engine is topped with a Powerdyne supercharger that ups power to approximately 550 hp. The truck was a mud racer in a previous life, and the engine was completely built with forged internals to handle big hits of nitrous. It should live forever with the 5 psi from the supercharger.
The front axle is a Dana 60 filled with chromoly axleshafts and 300M U-joints. Behind the ARB diff cover, 4.88 gears are wrapped around an ARB Air Locker. The steering components are all from PSC, including the pump, reservoir, and double-ended ram that is mounted on a custom mount built by Hazzard Fab.Worx. The orbital valve is mounted at the end of the steering shaft where the original box was located.
The front axle is suspended by Fox 14-inch-travel, remote-reservoir coilover shocks with 250 over 300 lb/in coil springs. The coilovers work in conjunction with Fox air bumps and a Currie Antirock sway bar. The track bar sees tremendous forces with the full hydro steering; note how the mount wraps all the way around the side of the frame and is boxed for strength.
Luke Shuman at Hazzard built the front four-link suspension with angled control arms to ensure that the 42-inch BFGs wouldn't rub at full lock. The arms are constructed from 2x0.250-wall DOM tubing and use Trail-Gear Creeper Joints at the axle end and Synergy dual durometer bushings at the frame end. Hazzard also TIG-welded chromoly washers on all of the suspension mounting points to reinforce them.
The rear axle is a Dana 60 with 4.88 gears and an ARB Air Locker behind the ARB diff cover. The axle is a full floater with 35-spline chromoly axleshafts and disc brakes. The factory fuel tank was retained under the truck, but a new 3-inch exhaust was built to maximize ground clearance and allow the supercharged engine to breathe.
The rear suspension uses Fox 16-inch-travel, remote-reservoir coilover shocks with 200 over 250 lb/in springs mounted upright outside of the frame. Fox air bumps take up the last of the travel, and a Currie Antirock sway bar keeps things stable. The rear lower links are angled, but rather than being angled in for turning radius like the front links they are angled up to maximize ground clearance.
Little features, like these custom skidplates that protect the rear disc brakes, show the level of detail that Hazzard Fab.Worx put into this project. The 42-inch Krawlers are only available for a 20-inch rim, which doesn’t provide much protection for the brake rotors.
This truck was built to get wheeled hard, so it is well armored to fend off rock attacks. Hazzard Fab.Worx built the custom skidplates from 1/4-inch-thick, laser-cut steel to protect the transmission and transfer case from damage. The skidplates are modular to allow them to be easily removed for service without any of the suspension components having to be unbolted.
You can just make out the Advance Adapters Atlas II transfer case with a 4.3:1 ratio poking out from behind the skidplates. The transfer case is mated to a 46RE transmission that was built by Mayfield’s Transmission using the same components Mayfield put into transmissions for sled-pulling trucks.
The front bumper is minimalist to maximize approach angle. The stubby steel bumper houses a Warn 9.5xp winch wrapped in synthetic winch line and capped with a Factor 55 thimble. ARB Intensity LED lights flank a 20-inch Rigid E-Series light bar that allow the wheeling fun to continue long after the sun goes down.
The DRT8 logos were made up as a play on Mopar’s SRT logo, which represents Street and Racing Technology. If Chrysler built a supertruck for the dirt, this would be it.
Rolling stock consists of huge 42-inch BFGoodrich Krawlers mounted on TrailReady beadlock wheels. Fitting these tires on a full body truck is no small feat, but all the work paid off because the sticky tires allow the truck to crawl up seemingly impossible obstacles with ease.
The interior uses Corbeau seats and a Smittybilt Arctic fridge for a center console. Space in the regular cab was tight, so the decision was made not to add an internal cage. Full harnesses from PRP are still used, though; they tie into a bolt-in harness bar that uses factory hardware.

Tech Specs

1996 Dodge Ram 1500
Engine: Supercharged 5.9L Magnum V-8
Transmission: 46RE 4-speed automatic
Transfer Case: Advance Adapters Atlas II
Axles: Dana 60 with ARB Air Locker, 4.88 gears, and chromoly axleshafts (front and rear)
Springs & Such: Custom Hazzard Fab.Worx 4-link with Fox coilovers, Fox air bumps, and Currie Antirock sway bars (front and rear)
Tires & Wheels: 42x14.50R20 BFGoodrich Krawler KX on 20x9.5 TrailReady beadlocks
Steering: PSC orbital valve, pump, reservoir, and double-ended hydraulic ram
Lighting: ARB Intensity LED Lights, 20-inch Rigid E-Series light bar
Other Stuff: Warn 9.5xp winch, MSD ignition, Corbeau seats, PRP harnesses, Smittybilt fridge, DeeZee bed box, Memphis Audio wakeboard speakers, Hi-Lift jack, spare 1350 CV drivelines, Hazzard Fab.Worx skidplates

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