The Wild-Eyed 1983 Dodge Ram Track Truck
By Scotty Lachenauer – Photography by the Author
Back in 1981, Dodge brought back the iconic “Ram” symbol it had created in the ’30s and attached it to their line of D150 trucks. They also added the tagline “Ram Tough” to the new pickups it was about to unleash on the unsuspecting masses. This was a slogan it had used around 30 years earlier, and for the Chrysler brand it was the start of something special.
Dodge’s D-series pickups had been launched two decades earlier back in 1960 and went through a crisp restyling in 1972. For the ’81 model year, the trucks once again got a makeover, along with their fresh new moniker. In two-wheel drive, these D-series trucks used the Ram name, and 4x4s were denoted by Power Ram on their flanks. These Rams became popular for their steady good looks, ample power, and performance out on the street and at the workplace.
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Many builders have realized this final generation of the D150s are the perfect canvas to build a wild, one-off street truck with. With good bones and plenty of power plant options to shred the rear tires, this Dodge can be one jaw-dropping bedded hot rod. Case in point, Jeffrey Nolt’s over-the-top, twin-turbo ’83 Ram.
This untamed beast on the pages in front of you was the result of a game plan that was drawn up and followed to exacting perfection. It was a simple concept; unleash some serious aesthetic mods to catch the public’s eye and then back it up with a serious Mopar-induced power curve. We can say that this project has hit its mark on every account.
This street truck started off as a D150 Ram, though its final form would barely resemble its original self. To start the transformation, the body was removed from the chassis and each set aside, as they’d both soon go through a mega metamorphosis. The frame was taken on first. It received a complete sandblasting before it was reinforced with stiffeners every 18 inches. Once the owner chose the color palette for the truck, the frame was basted in the selected hue of Indigo Blue in preparation for a color match with the Dodge’s outer flanks.
From there the suspension was built up, with tubular and adjustable upper and lower control arms added at all four corners. Long Travel dual-adjustable QA1 coilovers were installed along with a four-link suspension out back. These modifications were to allow the owner to get the Dodge down in the weeds once the body was mounted. Disc brakes at all four corners finish out the bevy of suspension modifications.
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As far as the body goes, the owner wanted to give this truck a modern, track truck look and feel. To add to the aerodynamics from the low-sitting body, the owner installed an all-steel widebody kit, along with a louvered hood and hand-fabricated front and rear diffusers and splitters. Belly pans added to the clean looks and aerodynamics of this amalgamation of both modern and vintage hot rod truck techniques.
Once the bodywork was finished, the truck was basted in the same Indigo Blue used on the frame and then topped off with racing stripes and copious amounts of hand-painted pinstripes. Other aesthetic features include a custom water-jetted grille up front and custom-tucked bumpers fore and aft.
The one-off bed out back was built in a way to increase exposure of the detailed suspension components, while still giving room for storage. Upholstery was added where it was possible to break up all the dark blue metal. It’s an interesting effect, with the suspension parts painted a contrasted Cranberry color.
This accent hue would be continued into the interior of the truck. Here we see this interesting color combination continue. The custom-upholstered Navy and Cranberry interior is truly an original blend, built completely around a 12-point steel roll cage. Driver and passenger side door bars were included in the build. The rollbar and leather-wrapped dash are in Cranberry, while the Intelius digital dash and data logger exploits the original Indigo hue. The upholstery touches are copious, with even the gas and brake pedals receiving an upholstered wrap.
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The steering wheel, door handles, and window cranks are all billet. Leather lace stitching on the roll bars is a true work of art and its design is continued on the door panels. An Alpine head unit, along with a hidden subwoofer and amplifier, supply the tunes. A custom center console adds to the modern look of the vintage Dodge.
Two for One
We’ve saved all this Mopar goodness for last, as the engine bay on this truck steals the show. At the core of this build is a Blouch Performance twin-turbo 318ci small block, backed by a stout 904 transmission. A TurboWorks intercooler and handmade steel intake add to the performance of this Mopar mill, while twin oil pumps and an MSD ignition, wires, and distributor keep the power on the upside. A four-core Griffin radiator keeps it all cool and a 3-inch Flowmaster exhaust gets rid of the spent gasses. One-off aluminum covers and inner fenders dressed in wild paint, pinstriping, and rivets, add a custom touch to the engine bay of this bedded bad boy. Color-matched engine and suspension accessories tie the whole bay together.
This Dodge Ram rides on 20×11 aluminum XXR wheels at the corners, shod with Nitto 555 G2 tires. The body lines are sleek, the center of gravity low, and the paintjob extreme. This ride appears to be speeding at a standstill, which is just an additional plus because knowing what’s under hood all the aesthetics warn you of what lurks below. This Mopar truck delivers where it counts.