We’re not sure what it is, but our guess is some kind of genetic marker in the DNA that kicks in when we’re about 2 years old. We’ve seen it with our own boys. Some primal force makes them always have to climb higher, run faster, and throw farther. Put your son on your shoulders while you take a walk, and he has to reach up and touch every door frame, hanging sign, and low branch. When another toddler pulls up on his training-wheel bike, before you know it, you and the other set of parents have to chase after the boys, who’ve just taken the perfect line out of turn two and are heading down the street out of sight. At some point, they discover the really neat things like earth movers, cranes, bulldozers, and heavy trucks. Some of us never outgrow that stuff. With this monster 4x6 Dodge Ram, the world is Jack Phillips’ sandbox.

Obviously, the similarities between Jack’s truck and Chrysler’s T-Rex-concept truck are more than a coincidence. However there are a few major differences, the first being that Jack drives his truck several thousand miles a year. We saw Jack cruising down Brice Road at the ’98 Mopar Nationals, and after we finished shouting as if we were a bunch of crazed rock-star groupies, we collected our wits long enough to run up to his truck, introduce ourselves, and climb in for a cruise down Brice. Before the truck’s door shut behind us, we knew Jack had the coolest toy on the block.

Jack divides his time between being a Mac Tools distributor and running a shop that rebuilds totaled vehicles. He began to build the ultimate Tonka Truck with the remains of a wrecked ’95 V10 Ram, and a scant 80 days later, this bad boy rolled out of his doors. The totaled regular cab truck arrived with a V10, 4x4 running gear, and a five-speed transmission. Jack opted for an extended cab instead of the T-Rex original cab, so he found a cab with cowl damage, fired up the MIG, and joined the two cabs. After the cab was finished, it was mounted to the stock frame, to which he added the extended-cab body mounts, and bolted it on. To make way for the relocated factory gas tank and exhaust, clearance was necessary, so a 3-inch body lift was employed. This established a visually pleasing front-wheel opening in which the 305/85R16 Buckshot Mudders mounted on factory wheels could reside.

After the cab was set in place, Jack added 26 inches of fabricated ¼-inch plate rails to the end of the frame, to make room for the rear axle assembly. After the frame was stretched, a dummy axle was hung behind the factory live axle, and suspended with an air-ride system pirated from a tractor-trailer cab. Currently, the rear axle is a dummy, and is only there for aesthetics. But Jack has considered making it live. His options include using military axles or a quick change-style, intermediate axle to run power through the first pinion gear, out the back to the second housing. A third option is a second transfer case from an old Power Wagon, which would allow him to direct-drive both sets of rear axles. The third option also requires the least amount of cash outlay, so he’s digging around for a transfer case. For now, he’s installed a dummy driveshaft between the two housings, more as a result of peer pressure than anything else. “Everybody kept saying I should make it six-wheel drive, so I just put the little shaft there to fool them,” Jack says.

Covering all these shenanigans is a stretched factory bed with enough of a wheelwell opening to cover Caterpillar treads. Starting with the original Ram’s bed, Jack spent about 80 hours cutting and splicing five different bed sections together to create a factory-looking box. The heart of the beast is a stock V10/five-speed combination. Everything is factory until after the catalytic converters, where tractor stacks exit the fumes to the air behind the cab. Dodge’s V10 already has a distinctive exhaust note, but when you hear it without the mufflers in place, it growls like a jungle cat. When we think back to our Saturday night Brice Road cruise, we can still hear it!

Jack finished the truck in factory red, added some running boards and a lightbar, and proceeded to have fun with it. The cruise to the ’Nats was 350 miles from his front door, and the truck handled it with ease. We’re sure it got more than a few looks from boys—both young and old—along the way. As for the future of the truck, we don’t see Jack outgrowing his toy anytime soon.