Most of our beaters are at least 10 or 15 years old. There just aren't that many of us willing to take a showroom-fresh vehicle and start hammering it on the trail. However, Robert Karpewicz's '98 Dodge 1500 is one example that went straight from the dealer to the dirt. You've got to admire that.
Robert bought the big Dodge new and started building it almost right away. The transmission and transfer case were left stock, but the Dana 44 front and Chrysler 911/44-inch rear were fortified with 4.56s and Lock-Right lockers. A 31/44-ton Dick Cepek 6-inch suspension was employed to hold up the front, and custom leaf packs from National Spring were used in the rear. A Dick Cepek 3-inch body lift was installed to keep the tires out of the Bushwhacker fender flares. Robert found that after replacing the old 36s with 38.5s the truck couldn't maintain Overdrive even on level grades, so in went a Flowmaster after-cat exhaust system, a pair of JBA headers, and a K&N filter to help offset the bigger meats.
To look at the Dodge you'd never guess that it has only 30,000 miles on the odometer. Its beat exterior is a testament to how hard it's used, but don't think that just because it has already been uglified that Robert is done. Plans are in the works for a Dana 60 frontend, a heavy-duty front bumper, and a few other goodies to allow this late-model to get farther into the trail. Just think what it'll look like in another 30,000 miles.