Bare bones. In the days of the Mopar musclecar, bare bones meant Road Runner-low on frills and high on performance. In the case of Jasen Vinlove's '96 Dodge Ram, it was missing all that and more.
Jasen says, "I bought the truck bare bones, stock as it sat and covered in snow in the back lot of my local Dodge dealer, Rich Wagoner's Performance Dodge in Springfield, Illinois."
So was the plan all along to convert it to show duty? "No," Jasen says surprisingly. "I had no idea it would evolve the way it did, something told me it would make a killer show truck if, and a big if, it was done tastefully and right. I certainly had doubts as far as gaining respect considering the humble Magnum V6 drivetrain."
Jasen goes on to say, "After the first few shows I was constantly asked, 'Where's the V8?' or 'Why did you choose a V6.' I simply told each person who inquired that I liked the color and had no option of getting the V8." Certainly his Light Kiwi Green Pearlcoat Ram is attractive, but that didn't stop Jasen from questioning his purchase and its future. "I came so close to buying a crate 360 motor, but when it came down to it, it was too expensive," concludes Jasen.
So what's an owner to do? Jasen took the paycheck approach. "I started adding a little here and a little there and voil, the V6 had some guts." Sure, the V6 performance parts have come along slowly in the aftermarket, such as headers which he still waits for, but he has made several performance improvements. They include the addition of an AiRaid Air Management System from Evergreen Performance, March Underdrive Pulleys, a 3-inch diameter Stainless Steel Cat-back Exhaust System from Borla Performance, a Lunati custom grind camshaft, 1.6:1 roller rockers from Crower, a JET Control Module, an Optima Battery, Jacobs Electronics ignition wires and CoolFlex stainless steel radiator hoses. Jasen guesses the engine upgrades have netted him approximately 50 horsepower with only a slight reduction in low-end torque from the 3.9.
What appealed to us was the Light Kiwi Green Pearlcoat paint. Jasen notes, "According to dealer statistics, the PF4 paint code was only offered for 30 days and the total number of Light Kiwi Green trucks numbers only 778 out of 480,000 units produced!"
To enhance the appearance, Jasen began by adding a pair of Le Mans stripes applied by Springfield Welding in the requisite Viper Black. The stripes run the entire circumference of the truck, from the color-keyed NS1 Fiberglass front bumper cover, over the AAR Fiberglass Reproductions hood, to the Lund tailgate spoiler and rollpan. Under the Checker Products bedlid lurks a Gaylord's bed rug.
Additionally, a Trenz Billet Grille Insert is fitted with R/T badging from a '69 Charger R/T. The R/T theme continues with an R/T Neon badge on the tailgate and Avenger nomenclature added to each body side along with chrome-plated Pentastars in the front fender locale. Jasen dropped the stock, non-descript body side trim and added the '98 Dodge Ram trim option.
As for the ride, the suspension was dropped with help from Jasen's uncle Bill Gutman, using Aim Industries components. Up front the drop was three inches and in the rear four inches. Bell Tech shocks and springs helped in the accomplishment. A set of 18x8 Enkei SST2 wheels are fitted with Sumitomo's HTRZII tires in a 255/45ZR18 size.
But Jasen didn't stop there! Inside the interior was totally removed and updated with street rod influences. The gray tweed with leather accents upholstery was installed by Bruce Roberts of HyTech Auto Trim in Columbia, Illinois and Superior Customs provided the wood accents on the dash and the billet pedals.
As the owner of Renegade Customs in Auburn, Illinois, Jasen has come up with a project that keeps the green in his pocket and green as an award winning color. Jasen's efforts netted him a Third Place trophy at the 1998 Mopar Nationals and more respect for green show trucks everywhere.