A Vegas Bodyman's Classic Trail-Ready Ramcharger
When we saw this '77 Dodge Ramcharger in line for one of the tougher trails at the annual Hump N Bump trail ride in Nevada, we did a double-take. After all, it's fairly uncommon to see fullsize SUVs on the trail, let alone fullsize rigs that look as good as this and aren't thrashed and bashed. Then there's the fact that at 32 years old, this rig is officially classic iron. And it's a Ramcharger. Sadly, that's a trail rarity in itself nowadays.
We introduced ourselves to the truck's owner, Doug Fenner of Las Vegas, and soon learned this auto painter/paint shop manager (this explained the pristine body) drives this rig on the street regularly and wheels it often. Naturally, we wanted to see the rig in action so we hitched a ride with Fenner to see how the big truck handled the tough Nevada terrain. What we found was that not only did Fenner know every nuance of his Ramcharger, he also did a darn good job building it. Not only did it work well on the trail, but after a hard day of wheeling, the rig had suffered no breakage of any sort. True to form, Fenner drove it the hour trip back to his home in Las Vegas, listening to that big-block music the entire way.
One of the things we noticed right from the get-go was that the Ramcharger had impressive power. A look under the hood explains why. Nestled between the framerails is a 440ci V-8 (bored 0.060 over) that used to reside in Fenner's drag car. He installed it in the Ramcharger "because I had it." The engine, assembled by Naffziger Racing, has an impressive collection of go-fast goodies like TRW 2266 forged pistons, pocket-ported 452 heads, a Crane cam, Rhoads lifters, stainless steel valves, a Melling high-volume oil pump, and a Weiand Action +Plus dual-plane intake topped by a Quadrajet carb with 14x6 K&N filter. The exhaust system utilizes Hooker headers, a 2.5-inch X-type exhaust, and Flowmaster mufflers with Dynomax Race Magnum mufflers used as resonators. The Edelbrock Quadrajet is fed via a 1/2-inch fuel line and a Holley electric fuel pump, and the incoming fuel is filtered by a Perma-Cool filter/water separator. An Optima BlueTop battery and an Optima RedTop battery combine with a Perma-Cool Maxi-Cool dual-circuit cooler with fan (to cool the engine oil and power-steering fluid) to round out the underhood mods. Interesting fact: Fenner says that before he de-tuned it, this engine, on nitrous, flung his 3,700-pound drag car down the quarter mile in 11.80 seconds at 118 mph.
Owner/Hometown: Doug Fenner/Las Vegas, Nevada
Vehicle/Model: '77 Dodge Ramcharger
Estimated value: $12,000
Type: 440ci V-8 bored 0.030 over
Aspiration: Weiand Action +Plus dual-plane intake, Quadrajet carb, Hooker headers, 2.5-inch-diameter X-type exhaust, Flowmaster mufflers, Dynomax Race Magnum mufflers as resonators
Output, hp/torque (estimated): 400/510
Transmission: TorqueFlite 727, diesel planetaries, Perma-Cool cooler
Transfer case: NP241
Front: Skyjacker 6-inch-lift leaves, Skyjacker Hydro 7000 shocks
Rear: Skyjacker 6-inch-lift leaves, Shaggy's Offroad shackles, Skyjacker Hydro 7000 shocks
Front: Dana 60, custom crossover steering, modified Skyjacker pitman arm, Offroad Design steering arm/Lock-Rite
Rear: Dana 60/Detroit Locker
Wheels: 16x10 Mickey Thompson
Tires: 315/75-16 BFGoodrich Mud-Terrain