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Dodge Dakota Quad Cab - Project 4xQuad, Part 4

Side Driving Dunes
Craig Perronne
| Brand Manager, Dirt Sports & Off Road
Posted June 1, 2000
Photographers: Cole Quinnell

It’s Big, It’s Bad, and It’s Done

Step By Step

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  • Providing some serious motivation is the 575 horsepower and 625 lb-ft. of torque put out by the Mopar Performance 500 cubic-inch V-8. Also visible are the K&N filter, MSD ignition, and Griffin radiator.

  • Backing up the power-mad engine is a 727 built by Pro Trans. To make a front driveshaft fit, an adapter from Advance Adapters was used as a spacer. An Atlas II transfer case, also from Advance Adapters, was then used to split power.

  • Since serious horsepower and big tires were being run, some beefy axles were needed. In the front, a reverse-rotation unit built by Dynatrac and equipped with gears and a Detroit Locker from Reider Racing was grafted into position by ORU.

  • More magic was performed by ORU in the fabrication of this cool front bumper. It was equipped with a Ramsey winch to help others who are stuck, and IPF lights to help guide the Dakota after dark.

  • Cool stuff can be found everywhere on the Dakota and these nickel-plated, 2-1/2-bodied Bilstein race shocks that were used front and rear are no exception. Remote reservoirs keep the shocks cool while dual Eibach coils smooth the ride.

  • Part of the reason for all the madness was the desire to run a serious tire. Big Boggers in the 39.5-inch flavor from National Tire & Wheel mounted on Weld Racing wheels, helped to quench our big tire lust.

  • A Dynatrac-built Dana 60 can also be found out back, equipped with disc brakes. The links attaching to the cantilever arms are part of the sway bar built to keep the tall Dakota wheels down.

Yes, we heard the snide, under-the breath remarks. "I bet that thing doesn't even run." Of course, there is our personal favorite, "That thing is just a show truck." Well, we didn't gut a whole truck and spend countless nights spinning wrenches until 3 a.m., and then waking up four hours later to start the madness again just to build some damn show truck. If we were going through the trouble of building a very custom truck, then we were going to make it work, and work bitchin' at that.

Naturally we couldn't do it alone. Heck, if it was up to us editors, we couldn't even do it. While we might be able to scrape up a tube bender and welder between us, we definitely didn't have all the skills, know how, and tools to tackle a project this big. Plus, with only a month to work with, we knew we needed somebody good. That is why as soon as we took delivery of our 2000 Dodge Dakota Quad Cab we dropped it off to Maurice Rozo and the crew at Off Road Unlimited (ORU), where the work immediately began.

The first obstacle for the ORU crew to hurdle was to install the radical drivetrain that was covered in a previous installment.

Out came the stock engine, transmission, and transfer case. The amount of horsepower was then more than doubled with the installation of a 575hp, 500 cubic-inch Mopar Performance V-8. A Holley 950-cfm double-pumper carburetor drawing air through a K&N air filter feeds the thirsty beast. A full MSD ignition then destroys the whole air/fuel mix. Other nice pieces such as a Mean Green starter juiced by an Optima battery, March Performance pulleys, and a Powermaster alternator were used to help complete the engine. Cooling water is provided by a custom built Griffin Thermal Products radiator, cooled with a Flex-a-lite fan. Hot gasses are expelled through Thorley Headers coated by Gold Coast Coatings, Flowmaster mufflers, and a custom exhaust built by Morse Muffler.

All those ponies are then sent through a 727 automatic transmission beefed by Pro Trans, while a B&M Racing & Performance Products deep transmission pan keeps it cool. A 2,500-rpm converter from Continental Torque Converters was also thrown in the mix to keep things beefy. Power is then split by an Advance Adapters’ Atlas II transfer case.

With the drivetrain installed it was time for some seriously custom work. Yes, it was time for ORU to build a totally trick suspension for the Dakota that we covered in the April 2000 issue. First, ORU got a hold of a set of 39.5x18-inch Boggers from National Tire & Wheel mounted on Weld Racing wheels. These were then mounted on front and rear Dana 60s built by Dynatrac and equipped with Detroit Lockers and Precision Gears from Reider Racing. Suspending the beefy Dynatrac Dana 60s are super-trick 2-1/2-inch Bilstein race shocks equipped with Eibach coils. A four-link suspension designed by ORU was used front and rear to provide maximum articulation. Steering duties were handled by Lee Manufacturing, who built a steering box and hydraulic assist to guide the Dakota down the trail while ORU performed a crossover steering conversion.

Finally, with the majority of work done it was time for all the little details to be finished, which was also covered in a previous installment. The tube benders and TIG-welders were kept busy as custom bumpers and a Con-Ferr rack were installed. Ramsey winches and IPF lights also adorn the truck. Auto Meter gauges were then blended into the dash to give a cool and custom look to the interior. The whole truck was then plumbed with Earl's Performance Products fittings.

With the truck up and running, there was nothing left to do but take it out for a flogging. While most custom-built trucks have plenty of bugs to work out, the Dakota had none and, much to our amazement, it also worked great. Yes, it does work and yes, it is done!


Flowmaster Inc.
Santa Rosa, CA 95401
K&N Engineering
Riverside, CA 92507
March Performance
Naples, FL 34110
Weld Racing
Kansas City, MO 64129
Flex-a-Lite Consolidated
Milton, WA 98354
Advance Adapters
Paso Robles, CA 93446
Ramsey Winch
Tulsa, OH 74116
National Tire & Wheel
Wheeling, WV
Krupp Bilstein of America
San Diego, CA 92121
Dynatrac Products
Huntington Beach, CA 92647
Off Road Unlimited
Reider Racing Inc
Taylor, MI
B&M Racing & Performance Products
Chatsworth, CA 91311
Thorley Headers
Corona, CA 92880
(909) 735-7280
Morse Muffler
Burbank,, CA 91506
(818) 848-1058
Earl’s Performance Products
Long Beach, CA 90805
Gold Coast Coatings
Camarillo, CA 93010
(805) 987-9060
Mean Green
Laughlintown, PA 15655
(724) 238-7319
Pro Trans
Lancaster, CA 93534
(661) 940-7400
Con Ferr
Burbank, CA
Lee Manufacturing Co.
Sun Valley, CA 91352
(818) 768-0371
Eibach Springs Inc.
Irvine, CA 92614
Auto Meter Products Inc
Sycamore, IL 60178
Continental Torque Convertors Inc.
Inglewood, CA
Seattle, WA