2004 Dodge Ram 3500: From the Track to the Trails

    Dodging the Rocks

    Ken BrubakerPhotographerJered KorfhageWriter

    Rust-free trucks are a hot commodity in areas that use salt to combat snowy and icy roads. Hailing from Milford, Connecticut, Shane Dunne jumped at the opportunity to buy a clean truck while he spent time on the West Coast. The ’04 Dodge Ram 3500 was intended to be Shane’s commuter and serve as a hauler for his ’77 Ramcharger, until he got hooked by the hot rod diesel scene.

    Shane started out on the 1/8-mile track in San Diego, California, and the passion for going fast followed him back to Connecticut. He would tow his friend’s race car to the track, drop the trailer, and roll his own Dodge truck to the starting line for truck pulls or drag races. Rolling around on the pavement was fun with 35-inch tires, but Shane wanted more. The truck had racked up some cosmetic damage from daily driving and trailer dragging duties, so the next step was off-road exploration.

    With a vision of exploring the trails in the painted-rock deserts of the West, Shane began the off-road modifications—beginning with the rear end. After surgically removing the bed, increasing the tire diameter to 37 inches, and locking the front axle, he drove the Ram cross-country to the desert for some quality ’crawling. When we caught up with him, Shane explained that some parts of the truck were still in progress. He plans to build his own custom front bumper, which will eventually house a 12,000- or 15,000-pound winch, and continue fine-tuning the flatbed fabrication. Most importantly, he does not regret a moment of the truck’s transformation from racing to rocks.

    At a Glance

    Vehicle: ’04 Dodge Ram 3500
    Owner: Shane Dunne
    Stomping grounds: Milford, Connecticut
    Build time: 5 years

    Engine: 5.9L Cummins ISB
    Transmission: 48RE 4-spd
    Transfer case(s): NV271D
    Low range ratio(s): 2.72:1
    Crawl ratio(s): 30.39:1
    Front axle/differential: AAM 9.25, RCV axleshafts, 4.56:1 gears/ARB Air Locker
    Rear axle/differential: AAM 11.5, 4.56:1 gears/stock limited-slip

    Front: Carli Suspension 3-in coils, control arms, and track bar; Bilstein 5160 shocks
    Rear: Carli Suspension 1-in leaf pack, Bilstein 5160 shocks

    Tires: 37x13.50R18 Toyo Open Country
    Wheels: 18x8.5 Eagle Alloys

    Steering: Synergy Manufacturing drag link and tie rod, Carli Suspension steering stabilizer
    Lighting: KC HiLites off-road lamps
    Armor: Custom-fabricated rock sliders and rear bumper, Addictive Desert Designs front bumper
    Cool stuff: 43-in Hi-Lift jack, bed-mounted spare tire, Bubba Rope recovery gear, and SOG shovel