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1996 Dodge Ram 1500: Not-So-Little Red Riding Hood

Posted in Features on October 9, 2017
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The constant evolution of off-road vehicles is a bug that bites many of us. Whether it’s to further improve the ability or look of our 4x4s, or to switch gears to a different type of wheeling, most projects never actually end. Brian Bohrer knows this all too well, and in a couple different ways.

Brian is a Jeep guy at heart. He has owned many Jeeps over the years and they have been great to him, especially for tight trails. However, the bug got him good. He decided he wanted something bigger, louder, and something most people don’t see on a regular basis. He wanted a rockcrawling Dodge pickup.

As a Dodge fan and owner already, Brian knew the path he was heading down was almost divine. “I really wanted a fullsize platform that was still short enough to get through most trails,” Brian says. A straight-axle Dodge Ram shortbed was exactly what he was looking for.

The truck he chose to transform was a ’96 Dodge Ram 1500 4x4. Initially, the truck was set up as a mud-drag racer with competition-cut bogging tires, nitrous, and a rear ladder bar setup to keep the leaf springs from wrapping under torque. “But like most guys, my builds have never been a ‘one-and-done’ type project,” Brian told us. “It’s a constant evolution of trying different things and dreaming about different builds. I decided to go big this time and create a Moab machine meant for open spaces with lots of rock.”

To build the truck into the Moab-dominating machine he envisioned, the drivetrain and running gear of the truck were swapped with a Ram 2500 donor truck—Dana 60 axles, 5.9L V-8, 46 RE transmission, the whole shebang.

The truck was put into the hands of Luke Sherman, owner and operator of Hazzard Fab.Worx in Spokane, Washington. Luke and his team gave the truck the full treatment. The already strong 5.9L Magnum V-8 benefited from a Powerdyne supercharger and forged internals. The 46 RE four-speed automatic transmission was rebuilt with a shift kit and some seriously heavy-duty racing internal components.

Because no rockcrawler is complete without a bulletproof transfer case, an Advance Adapters 4.3:1 ratio Atlas 2 transfer case was bolted to the back of the transmission. Both front and rear driveshafts were rebuilt with 1350 U-joints with matching spares bolted in the bed of the truck.

Brian’s Ram might be the biggest little truck out there. The 42-inch BFGs give it a ton of ground clearance, and the wide truck takes up a lot of trail. However, it serves exactly the purpose Brian wanted it to—it’s big, loud, and dominates the trail.

The factory Ram 2500 Dana 60 axles were beefed up, too. The front sports an ARB Air Locker, Yukon Gear & Axle axleshafts and 4.88:1 ratio gears and axleshafts. Out back, the Dana 60 runs an Eaton Detroit locker, Yukon 4.88:1 gears, and chromoly ’shafts. Both gearsets are protected by ARB differential covers.

The front and rear suspension systems were custom-built by Hazzard Fab.Worx. The custom-built four-link design utilizes high-clearance control arms, Fox remote-reservoir coilover shocks, Fox bumpstops, and Currie Enterprises Antirock sway bars. When asked about how he feels the truck performs, Brian had an excited response: “The truck literally floats over obstacles with the way the suspension and link geometry is designed. The high-clearance links and the ride of the air bumps and sway bar setup is pretty unbelievable. It got to the point that some obstacles become too easy...our goal quickly became how easy can we make these obstacles look and still do them!”

The entire truck received upgrades that make it a power to be respected, and Brian has no plans to change anything on it.

Ample ground clearance allows Brian to tackle boulders bigger than many vehicles on the trail. Custom rock sliders help keep the body between the wheels wrinkle free.
Up front, the Dana 60 axle lives a posh life with 14-inch-travel Fox remote-reservoir coilovers, PSC Motorsports hydraulic steering, and high ground clearance thanks to the 42-inch tires.
The rear Dana 60 hangs off a custom suspension setup by Hazzard Fab.Worx. Fox 16-inch-travel remote-reservoir Fox coilovers do the dirty work with high-clearance control arms and a Currie Enterprises Antirock sway bar.
The truck’s low range ratio was dramatically improved with the help of an Advance Adapters Atlas 2 4:3:1 ratio transfer case.
The front bumper was designed with approach angle in mind. The ultra-high clearance bumper supports a Warn 9.5xp winch, a set of ARB Intensity LED lights and a Rigid Industries 20-inch E-series LED lightbar.
Hazzard Fab.Worx built a custom bed cage to help protect occupants while providing ample mounting locations for all the trail necessities.
The rear bumper was built high and tight, and to take a beating from any possible contacts with the terrain. A custom tire mount was built that swings away from the bed cage and supports a spare 42-inch BFGoodrich Krawler T/A KX Red Label tire.
The interior of the truck was moderately remodeled with form and function in mind. Comfy and secure Corbeau seats keep occupants planted on either side of the Smittybilt Arctic refrigerator that also serves as a center console.
Under the hood may not look drastically different, but it certainly is. The 5.9L V-8 was rebuilt with forged internals and a Powerdyne supercharger running 5 psi that allows the mill to pump out an estimated 550 horsepower.

At A Glance

General
Vehicle: ’96 Dodge Ram 1500
Owner: Brian Bohrer
Stomping Grounds: Anywhere and everywhere

Drivetrain
Engine: Dodge Magnum 5.9L V-8, Powerdyne supercharger
Transmission: 46 RE 4-spd automatic with shift kit and racing internals
Transfer case: Advance Adapters Atlas 2
Low range ratio: 4.3:1
Crawl ratio: 51.4:1
Front axle/differential: Dana 60, Yukon Gear and Axle 4.88:1 gears, Yukon chromoly axleshafts/ARB Air Locker
Rear axle/differential: Dana 60, Yukon Gear and Axle 4.88:1 gears, Yukon chromoly axleshafts/Eaton Detroit Locker

Suspension
Front: Custom Hazzard Fab.Worx long-arm with high-clearance control arms, 14-in-travel Fox coilovers, Fox bumpstops, Currie Enterprises Antirock sway bars
Rear: Custom Hazzard Fab.Worx long-arm with high-clearance control arms, 16-in-travel Fox coilovers, Fox bumpstops, Currie Enterprises Antirock sway bars
Steering: PSC Motorsports, hydraulic

Tires/Wheels
Tires: 42x14.50R20 BFGoodrich Krawler T/A KX Red Label
Wheels: 20x9.5 TrailReady beadlock

Miscellaneous:
Custom front and rear bumpers, Warn 9.5xp winch, Corbeau seats, PRP harnesses, custom-built bed cage for mounting toolbox, spare drivelines, MSD ignition, Hi-Lift jack and wakeboard speakers

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