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1999 Dodge Durango 4x4 - Big Red Mopar Monster

Posted in Project Vehicles on November 1, 2000
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Photographers: Christian Hazel

To our knowledge, this has to be the biggest Durango left of the Mississippi. Don McComas' '99 Dodge Durango sits high with its windowsills at the top of most Durangos' roofs. Yes, those are 38s on a Durango. No, this lift isn't custom. And yes, it can be done, people. We know a lot of you have been asking about tire fitment on the latest Dodge sport/utes. We were sort of wondering ourselves, and then along came Don with his enormous Durango. "38s?" we exclaimed. "Oh yeah!"

Don was told again and again by shop pros that the biggest tire you can get under a Durango is a 35-inch. Well, this was just not acceptable to Don. He isn't used to the phrase "not possible." With big Swampers on the brain, Don found Papola Performance in Santa Rosa, California, which was willing to get the project rolling (no pun intended). The Durango was dropped off so new that it still had dealer plates on it.

Don wanted the biggest and best-quality lift made for his Durango, and that meant a 5-inch kit from Tuff Country. With this kit only, he could've thrown on 33-inch tires with no rubbing, or 35s with a little hit. "Ha!" said Don. "No puny tires will adorn my rig." So in went a Performance Accessories 3-inch body lift. New Dodges are nice because there is no gap left between the frame and the body in the rear wheelwells when a body lift is installed. With both lifts in place, it was time to test the tires. The 38x15.50R15 Super Swamper radials mounted on 15x10 Eagle 589 rims were bolted up to the stock rear axle and front IFS. With the whole setup complete and ready for a test run, Don hopped in the driver seat and took off. There was no rubbing whatsoever on the street, but the tires did make contact during flexed-out 'wheeling. However, it's nothing that lowered bumpstops or some trimming can't cure.

For powering duties, the 245 hp of the 360 Magnum was deemed strong enough (for now). And even with those big meats, Don still claims a 16.8-second quarter-mile at 78 mph! But considering Don's background in supercharged Mustangs, it comes as no surprise that plans are already in the making for a supercharger to be strapped on under the hood.

The Magnum's power is routed through the original tranny and transfer case. From there, stock driveshafts bring motion to the original front Dana 35 center section and IFS, followed up by a Chrysler 9 1/4-inch axle in the rear. Just as most buildups go, there is already thought of scrapping the original drive axles for a pair of Dana 60s. With these types of plans brewing, you can be sure you'll see more of this Rohnert Park, California, rig.

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