Down by the bayous of southeast Texas, the city of Orange hosts a growing sport truck scene that’s as hot as its Gulf Coast blacktop. This is a region where the battle between Ford and Chevy rages and anyone caught between has tended to be overlooked—but not anymore. Not since one of Orange’s own, Damon Silva, strolled into the arena with his customized ’95 Dodge Ram 1500 has much remained the same in the city’s War of Labels. Damon’s truck made its first appearance in our Nov. ’99 Readers’ Trucks department. We then got a closer look at the Ram during the Texas Heatwave show in Austin, where it earned Second Place in its class. At the show, one thing we noticed about this truck was its drastically altered back: It was injured quite seriously. An uninsured motorist drove into the rear of Damon’s truck, and the roll pan and the handle-shaved tailgate, which once attracted attention to the hard work spent on tunneling in the Caddy taillights, instantly became an ugly sight of mangled proportions.

Utterly discouraged, Damon packed his things to return home. His dad Nicky, however, encouraged Damon to go on to the show even though the outlook seemed hopeless. Fortunately, there wasn’t too much damage, and enough of the Dodge still looked so great it deserved an award.

Even more satisfying than winning the trophy, is the pride the Silvas feel knowing their truck defies the stereotype that other-brand loyalists have tried to place on Dodges. In Damon’s circle of peers, if you own anything other than a Bow Tie or an Oval, you just might be snubbed. He took this into consideration when he built his truck; he wanted to make sure he wasn’t neglected. He had customized just about all the other brands out there, but he’d never before been a Mopar man. With this Ram, he wanted to create something different. And although parts can sometimes be hard to find or are outrageously expensive, with the help of friends like Terry Childres of Orange Autobody (where Damon works) and others, Damon found all he was looking for to complete his ride. He did much of the work himself, including achieving the handsome 4/6 drop, which he lifted from 6/8 after dragging a hole in the gas tank.

By building this Dodge, Damon learned it takes a decent amount of money, a lot of time, some trials, and a few errors to create this kind of vehicle. Regardless of popular opinion, Damon is quite satisfied with owning his customized version of the Ram. And as an eye-pleasing example of fresh styling and clean craftsmanship, the product of his work is certainly one worthy to fill our pages.