Marc Burwell's truck, aptly named "Sub Ram" is a concoction of an '81 crew-cab shortbed U.S. Air Force truck and the rear clip from an '83 Ramcharger. Around 1990, Marc and his growing family needed a truck that could haul kids, dune buggies, ATVs, and anything else they could think of. So he got the idea in his head to splice a couple of trucks together. (Some guys get the coolest ideas.)
Marc owned R&R Automotive in Rancho Cucamonga, California, at the time. "I worked for Chrysler in the '70s and '80s, and my shop specialized in Chryslers, so I was familiar with their products," he says. "We found that a Ramcharger would mate up with a crew cab. Their geometry from the midpoint back was about the same." Burwell found both the clip and the truck at Walker's Truck Salvage in Victorville, California, near an Air Force base. In November 1990, he took them to his shop and began the personal challenge of piecing together a one-of-a-kind truck.
How did he do it?
The Ramcharger door-striker jam mated to the rear door of the four-door Dodge truck. While the body was on a cart, the frame of the truck had to be shortened 9 1⁄4 inches for all the body mounts and wheelbase centers to come into alignment. Marc performed the frame modifications himself at R&R Automotive. The wheelbase now sits at 139 1⁄2 inches.
For the engine, Marc chose a .030-over 360 acquired from a '71 Fury-a detective's car with the police package. It was part of the inventory at Bill & Ed's in Fontana, California. There, Marc had Ed Vickroy port-match and flow the J heads, and then add TRW flat-top pistons, as well as TRW valves. Isky provided the cam and crankshaft. The block was machined by Wilson Bros. in Ontario, California, and when Marc got it back, he did the engine assembly himself. An Edelbrock Performer intake helps provide power to the 9.25:1-compression engine, and dual 21/4 Flowmaster exhaust pipes free the fumes.
Dave's Transmission in Temple City, California, built the 727 transmission, to which Marc added a Trans-Go shift kit. The rearend is a Dana 60 with 4.10 gears.
The interior, which covers GM seats, is a combination of gray tweed, vinyl, and leather custom-made by Denny Nish. Inside, you can also see the custom-made billet brake and accelerator pedals with black carpet underneath.
Never seen a Dodge this color before? That's because it's a combination of Ford Green and GM White. Marc had the exterior done at Color By Woz, Mark Wozniak's shop in Riverside, California. When Woz was finished, he informed Marc that he had some PPG pink left over from another project, and Marc gave the OK to use it for an accent color.
"The green was what Ford was using on its Explorers around 1992," Marc says. "Chrysler just didn't have any colors I liked at the time."
The term "Sub Ram" refers to the truck's parallelism to a Suburban body and some of its GM highlights, such as an overhead console, a third brake light, and GM seats and trim. The Sub Ram also has the dualie wheels in the back, although somewhat to Marc's chagrin. "Back around 1989-'90, that was the big thing in California," he says. "If I had known how much work it was going to be to cut the wheelwells, I wouldn't have done it. It was a nightmare, but that's how it got the flared fenders."
So how did Marc's family workhorse perform once he got it finished? Well, it didn't. After all Marc invested in the truck, he couldn't bear to beat it up.
"I didn't anticipate getting carried away like this," Marc says. "We only used it a couple of times to do [work duty]. Then the interior got elaborate, and we put the sound system in. Now it's a Sunday driver and show truck."
In 1995, Marc sold R&R and moved to Boulder City, Nevada, where he now owns Lakeside Auto Service. But while the Sub Ram was still a West Coaster, Marc had the California Highway Patrol reidentify it as new construction. Now, in the C.H.P. database, the old '81 VIN is identified as a '91 Dodge truck. "I had some friends in the C.H.P., and they suggested I [reidentify it]," Marc says. "I was able to avoid a salvage title that way."
After we photographed the Sub Ram the first time, Marc did even more work to it. He added 273 rockers and dressed up the engine compartment. "When I park it outside the shop, I can pretty much count on a couple people coming in to ask about it," he says. "When I take it to shows, most people just shake their head."
"My family was growing and I needed a good tow vehicle," he says. "I have never owned anything but Chrysler products. And, they said it couldn't be done."
Body: '91 Dodge truck (sort of).
Engine: 360 from '71 Fury police car.
Trans: 727 three-speed with TransGo shift kit.
Special Features: Third brake light from GM Astro van; custom-built billet overhead console and gas and brake pedals; front and rear A/C; dual rear wheels; custom door panels; Alpine stereo with Boston Acoustics speakers.