Josh Clark, Elizabethtown, Kentucky
'04 Dodge Dakota
If this Dakota looks familiar that's because its owner, Josh Clark, has entered it in our Sport Truck Challenge two years in a row. He was the first guy with enough cajones to prove his 'bagged mini-truck could compete with all the V-8 powered full-size trucks. That first year, he had the nicest mini in the competition, and his truck and driving skills got him the Third Place trophy. The following year, Josh showed up with a new set of flames, but the competition got much stiffer. The new challengers didn't scare Josh. Instead, he polished his driving skills enough to shave a full second off his elapsed time to take home Fourth Place.
So how did this truck come to be? Well that's a story in itself. Josh bought this truck brand-new with the intention of just tinting the windows and driving it. Well that plan changed almost immediately. On the way home from the dealer, a lady in a new Volkswagen Bug wasn't paying attention to the road and rear-ended Josh, wiping out the rear bumper of his new truck. Being a customizer, that accident was shrugged off and a roll pan would cure the damage. Fast forward a few months later, and Mother Nature decided to mess with the Dakota as well. One night, the weather report called for hail, so Josh pulled the truck under the carport to protect it. The hail storm showed up and dumped frozen balls relentlessly, piling up on the roof of the carport. Eventually the weight of the hail became too much, and in the middle of the night the carport came crashing down right on the truck. Now, most of the truck needed to be repaired, but again, instead of crying about it, Josh decided the custom route was the only way to keep from getting discouraged.
How did this owner get such a sunny disposition when faced with adversity? Mainly from his parents, because they owned a motorsports business when he was a kid. Since grease has been running through his veins from a very early age, the issues with the Dakota were no sweat. This isn't his first custom truck, but it is one he's very proud to say "I did almost all of it myself, from the paint to the handmade cowl hood." There are a few things Josh learned from building this truck besides how bad luck sucks; Dodges are expensive to customize, especially compared to an S-10, and aftermarket support is pretty thin for Dakotas.
When we asked what was the best part of this build, Josh answered, "The long nights at the shop, going to strip clubs afterwards, and munching on the buffet, and pissing off the girlfriend for working on a mini-truck instead of spending time with her." When asked what was the worst part, he answered "Spending money that should have been used for car payments. Chrysler Financial is like the mafia when it comes to getting their payments. Luckily, I still have my thumbs."
Even though the initial plan was to just drive the truck, a few choice encounters with bad luck forced the custom build. Not only did Josh build a killer truck, but he maintained a great attitude while doing it, so we give him mad props for that.
Engine/Drivetrain: 3.7L V-6 / custom-made intake with K&N filters / MSD fuel pump / Aero Speed fuel pressure regulator / Flowmaster exhaust / Optima battery / handmade aluminum fan shroud / valve covers, pulleys, and power steering reservoir painted to match exterior / Moser rearend cut down 2-1/2 inches / RCI 15-gallon aluminum fuel cell
Front: 17x8 Budnik Grid-6
Rear: 17x10 Budnik Grid-6
Front: 245/40ZR17 Nitto NT555
Rear: 295/40ZR17 Nitto NT555R
Front: DJM tubular control arms / Air Ride Technologies Shockwaves
Rear: Custom-built parallel four-link / Firestone F9000 sleeve 'bags
Accessories: Two Viair 400 compressors and dual needle air gauges / 3/8-inch air line / SMC valves / 7-gallon aluminum air tank
Chassis: Painted frame and four-link / bolt-in C-notch / custom bent crossmembers to replace gas tank and spare tire crossmembers
By: Owner and Big Vic fabrication
Hand-built fiberglass hood with 5-1/2-inch cowl / four-wheel drive Durango front bumper / custom made grille inserts / R/T fender flares / shaved antenna, mirrors, door handles, taillights, and tailgate handle / Sir Michael's handle flip kit / Grant Customs roll pan / LED taillight / Mopar Performance aluminum gas door / black aluminum filler panels in the bed
PPG Bright Metallic Silver with custom-mixed purple and green cheetah flames outlined in raspberry pink pinstriping
JEG's Racing seats and four-point harnesses / gray vinyl inserts on the door panels / handmade pillar pods / Equus gauges / Proform shift light / Handmade center console and brass knuckle shifter / Grant Eagle steering wheel / hand cut aluminum gauge surround
Pioneer AVH-P6400 head unit / Audiobahn ABC680V 5x7-inch components in the dash and back of cab / 10-inch Rockford Fosgate subwoofer in a custom-built center console / 250-watt Rockford Fosgate Punch amp
"To all those fine, outstanding, law enforcement officers who gave me a hard time and cost me money, and to Ellie, Debbie, Vic, Joan, Kerry, and the rest of the puds I forgot to mention"