Mitch Rall
Spring, Texas
'09 Dodge Ram Crew Cab

See Page 2 for web exclusive photos of this Dodge!

A few months ago, we printed a rendering of what we knew was one of the first full-custom '09 Dodge Rams on the planet. At the time that we printed that article, Mitch Rall of Ekstensive Metalworks, had just clocked 539-miles in his brand-new Ram Crew Cab and then put it on a lift at the shop for a complete buildup.

Mitch's idea for building this new body-style Ram started in the spring time of '08 when he had the means to build such a truck for the upcoming SEMA Show. At that time, Mitch collaborated with us on ideas for the project and contacted the folks at Chrysler to find out when he could get his hands on the new truck. They told him that with recent budget cuts they couldn't give him a promo truck and he wouldn't be able to buy one until a few weeks after the show. Mitch then held off building anything and kept his ear to the ground to find out when he could score his coveted new Ram. Luckily, his local dealership received a shipment of Rams just a few weeks before the show, and Mitch found himself trading in his '04 Ram dualie for this '09 1/2-ton. He jumped at the chance to be one of the first to customize the new truck.

With only three weeks before the show, Mitch scrambled to gather parts while the truck was being torn apart by Ekstensive's owner, Bill Carlton, and his talented crew. By torn apart, we mean that the front sheetmetal, grille, bumpers, bed, interior, and rearend where all disassembled. Once stripped down, the crew was able to modify the suspension for enough travel to lower the truck down to the ground and lift it up to drive with a set of Slam Specialties airbags. To help drop the truck down, a new set of lower control arms were made with press-in ball joints from a '98 Chevy Silverado. With the spindles raised higher, the factory upper control arms were lifted via custom mounts to help minimize negative camber. Then, to prevent bumpsteer and correct the toe angle, the steering links were made parallel with the lower control arms by use of drop down spacers and heim joints.

Of course, Chrysler didn't originally design this truck to tuck a 26-inch wheel and tire combo between the front fenders, so it came as no surprise to find out that some stuff needed to be moved out of the way. Since the fenders were already off, the inner parts were trimmed and a pair of trailer fenders were placed in between teh firewall and core support to prevent the tires from slinging dirt and mud in the engine compartment. Another thing in the way was the firewall; it was simply cut and patched up with a few pieces of hand-formed sheetmetal. Then, the fuse box was moved out of the way, and two Kinetik batteries were mounted in place. The last thing that needed to be relocated on the front of the truck were the brake lines. Eric Rankins spent six hours reconfiguring them to clear the relocated control arms.

On '09 models, Dodge upgraded the rear suspension from leaf springs to a multi-link setup with coil springs. Although the change helps improve the ride quality of the Ram, the linkage would not help in getting the truck on the ground. So, all of the rear suspension was junked for a two-link that's attached to the step-notched frame with leaf spring hangers from an '88 to '98 Chevy Silverado. While raising the gas tank for frame clearance, the crew realized that the fuel system was too complicated to be moved out of the way in order to mount up a set of airbags. The quick fix was to create a rear mounted wishbone link that would give lateral stability and raise the rear of the truck when air is put into the Slam Specialties RE-8 airbags that are mounted on top of it. Once the suspension was figured out, the rearend was sent to Texas Auto Gear to be narrowed 4 inches. Before the bed could be put back on the chassis, it was cut, tubbed, and notched for the wheels and frame notch. At the same time, the rest of the bed floor was shaved smooth with 16-gauge sheetmetal.

Though having a truck with an airbagged suspension that lays out over big wheels is pretty crazy, Mitch decided to go mild with the rest of the mods. Part of the reasoning behind this is due to the fact that this is Mitch's daily-driver. At the time of this build, Mitch and his wife, Molly, already had a four-year-old and were expecting a baby boy. Since the Ram already came with a plush interior with leather covered seats, Mitch kept the cab mods simple and clean. One thing he was sure needed upgrading was the audio system. Rockford Fosgate provided the equipment, which includes a 3sixty signal processor and eight amplified 6 1/2-inch Punch component speakers in custom fiberglassed and painted door pods made by Twisted Interiors. Then, to give the audio system some boom, Mitch and his friend Elliot made a custom hidden enclosure to fit three 12-inch P3 shallow-mount subwoofers. With the addition of Rockford's Deadskin sound deadening material, and paint on a few dash pieces, the interior was finished in time for the show.

The week before the truck had to leave for the show, it was still covered in factory paint. The original rendering showed that Mitch took elements from a few different renderings he had from Pat Maxwell. His friend, Daryl Tracy, played around with some press release photos of the Ram and layed a two-tone design on it. With the final rendering in hand, Chris Gilbert was able mask the truck off and spray it with BASF Light Chestnut Metallic on top and Fawn Pearl on the lower portions. To give the two-tone break some depth, Patrick Reed airbrushed a drop shadow and pinstriped the edges in a custom off-white mix of paint.

Then, three days before leaving for the show, the 26-inch Giovanna wheels arrived at Ekstensive. Though Mitch picked out Giovanna's Canelli design wheels in a chrome finish, he received two of them painted in black, and two chrome Berlin design wheels. With no time left, Mitch had to deal with having two different sets of wheels on the truck. The wheels also arrived with no bolt holes. In a mad rush, Mitch sent out the wheels to a local machine shop to have them drilled out to the Ram's bolt pattern. While the truck was getting color-sanded and buffed, the wheels made it back to the shop. As a last minute fix for the black wheels, Chris quickly painted them in Light Chestnut metallic to match the top of the truck. Then, the Toyo Proxes STII tires were mounted to the wheels and they were bolted-up.

After a quick wash, the Ram was loaded on a trailer as Johnnie Martinez and Chad King were prepared to tag team the two-day drive from Houston, Texas, to Las Vegas, Nevada. The truck was on its way to be debuted at the biggest show in the nation, but Mitch was unable to hitch a ride to the show. His wife was due to give birth to their son, Robert, during the week of SEMA. Having his priorities straight, Mitch declined a trip to the show in order to stay with his family during this special time. With the help of some friends, the truck did make it to Vegas and into Chrysler's special "Mopar Alley" of the section of the show. As it sat there under the lights, it got lots of attention because it was the only new Ram that had a fresh paintjob and tucked huge wheels between its fenders. Now back in his possession, Mitch drives the truck everyday, and continues to turn heads with it on a daily basis.

The 411
Engine/drivetrain:
5.7L Hemi V-8 / Amsoil synthetic motor, transmission, and gear oil / K&N air filter / custom exhaust with Magnaflow muffler / Kinetic 1,200 and 2,400 batteries / fuse box relocated for tire clearance / rearend narrowed 4 inches / Amsoil synthetic fluids
By: Ekstensive Metalworks, Houston, Texas

Rims:
Front: 26x10 Giovanna Canelli painted to match body color
Rear: 26x10 Giovanna Berlin with chrome finish

Tires:
Front & Rear: 305/30R26 Toyo Proxes STII

Suspension:
Front: Custom lower control arms with press-in ball joint from a '98 Chevy Silverado / raised factory upper control arms / steering angle corrected with drop down spacers and Heim joints / Slam Specialties RE-7 airbags / custom airbag mounting brackets / factory shocks
Rear: Custom two-link with a reverse-mounted upper wishbone / hangers from '88-'98 Chevy Silverado / Slam Specialties RE-8 airbags / factory shocks

Accessories: Two Viair 480 compressors / 7-gallon air tank / 1/2-inch GC 450 valves / 1/2-inch copper hardlines / Firestone air gauge mounted on dash / gas tank raised 1 1/2 inches
Chassis: Front crossmember and transmission crossmember shaved flat / rear step notch with bridge
By: Ekstensive Metalworks, Houston, Texas

Body Mods:
Shaved antenna / cut and tubbed firewall / custom inner front fender wells / smoothed bed floor, bed caps, and with trailer fenders and notch cover
By: Ekstensive Metalworks, Houston, Texas

Custom Paint:
Two-tone with BASF Light Chestnut Metallic on top and Fawn Pearl on bottom / airbrushed drop shadow / off-white pinstripe
By: Ekstensive Metalworks, Houston, Texas / Patrick Reed (airbrushing and pinstripping)

Interior:
Several dash pieces smoothed and painted to match exterior / original leather upholstery
By: Chris Gilbert of Ekstensive Metalworks, Houston, Texas

Audio/video:
Factory head unit / Rockford Fosgate Deadskin, 3Sixty signal processor, eight 6-1/2-inch Punch component speakers in custom door pods, two 400x2 amps for speakers, three 12-inch P3 shallow mount subwoofers, and 1000x1 amplifier for subs / custom subwoofer enclosure mounted under rear seats
By: Owner and Friend Elliot Muniz / John Burgess Twisted Interiors, Houston, Texas (speaker pods)

Club:
Severed Ties

Special Thanks:
My Family Molly, Natalie, and Robert, Bill Carlton, Rudy Mora, Chris Gilbert, Fat Rob, Dave Flynt, Eric Rankins, Derek Kruse, Beans, Chris Eshelman, Patrick Reed, Kent Ladner, Johnny Martinez, Carl, Daryl Tracy, Brian Fox, Giovanna Wheels, Toyo Tires, BASF Paint, Rockford Fosgate, Kinetik Audio, Slam Specialties, Viair, GC Valves, Advanced Auto Trim, K&N, Twisted Interiors, Pristine Image, Texas Auto Gear, AMSOIL, and Diamond Sheet Metal