Real Wheels - Feature Trucks

"Beauty is in the Eye of the Beholder"

Ross Bartlett's
79 Dodge Ramcharger "Old Ugly"

Poor old Dodge owners have to put up with a lot just to drive what they like. From hand-me-down parts, to ridicule, and all the stupid questions like "what kind of truck is that?" It seems the general public just doesn't see Dodges the way they see Fords and Chevys. That fine, that just means we have them all to ourselves! Ross Bartlett is one of those Dodge owners that really takes his love of these beasts to the extreme, but then that can be said for most Dodge owners. Ross' 79 Dodge Ramcharger is his personal slice of heaven and it shows. Not in the traditional ways like paint and body work but underneath where it counts! This is no show stopper-primadonna truck, no sir! It's a no-holds-barred, take-no-prisoners kind of truck! Like most 4x4's, it's a work in progress, an unfinished masterpiece if you will. Heck the only thing more fun than driving an old Dodge is fixing one up. With a late model NP 241 T case, 85 Ramcharger axles, and a "Steer and Gear" steering box, and Borgeson steering shaft this truck is was well on it's way to perfection. To get the most out of the suspension in his truck Ross took it to ORW in El Cajon, CA. and had Bruce Hill work some magic on the old girl. Here are the results of all this work!

Under the hood of Ross' Ramcharger lies the old 360 motor with a few new touches thrown in. The Dual Optima Deep Cycle Batteries are one of the first things you'll notice but the custom shock hoops and Bilstein shocks stand out too. A K&N air filter sits a top the for now stock engine but plans call for a new resting spot for it. Half the fun of driving an old truck is getting to make it exactly the way you want it. Ross still hasn't decided what to do with the engine yet but plans are in the works

The front suspension is a combination of off-the-shelf pieces and custom work. Bruce Hill at ORW did a fantastic job of getting 12" of travel out the Skyjacker 6" lift springs. The custom mounted Bilstein shock are the real story of this truck. The quality of the work is amazing and the whole truck is just fantastic. The custom front hoops allow a long enough shock to handle the massive wheel travel and help add some stability to the front end with the crossover bar. This setup will handle exactly what Ross has in mind for the truck, high speed desert running with some slower, more technical stuff thrown in too.

Here's the really neat part, the rear! Bruce is pointing out the custom made crossmember he made for the dual Bilsteins and their reservoirs. This is a first rate job through and through. The original shock mounts just wouldn't have been strong enough to handle the forces the big Bilsteins would be putting on it so Bruce fabbed up the setup. It also allows for the removal of the stock lower shock mounts that all Dodge owners know and love. A U-bolt flip is in progress as we speak. This will add some extra clearance and keep Ross from dragging his way over the taller stuff.

The rest of the drivetrain is in a similar state as the engine, kind of undecided. The stock NP 203 transfer case has already gone bye-bye in favor of this NP 241 unit. The transmission is still the good old 727 TF but plans are for an A-518 four speed to help with the 4.56 gears in the axles. Speaking of axles, the stock ones were retired in favor of some '85 Ramcharger axles. This gets rid of those lousy wheel bearing and anemic 5 X 4.5 bolt pattern. Bolted to those axles are 4 35x12.50R15 BFG Mud Terrains on chrome rims. The whole package should suit Ross' needs perfectly

To some people the body and paint are the most important thing, Not to this Dodge owner! Sure it's nice to have a truck the doesn't require a tetanus shot to ride in but it all comes down to function! What's the point of looking good if you can't go anywhere? I hear rumblings of a paint job coming soon but I like it just the way it is, beautiful!


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