When it comes to static-dropping a Dodge Dakota, you have a few options. Some companies offer drop spindles, some offer drop pocket control arms, and some companies offer drop coils. That is all well and good, if you don't mind buying some parts from here and others from there. To make matters worse, you'll never really know until you install them whether they will work together in harmony. Sometimes, you just want things easy, like one kit for everything. We wanted to drop an '01 extra cab Dakota and slap on a set of 20s, but we didn't want to do a lot of guesswork to find the right parts.

We already had the wheels picked out for this little project. Black Rhino is a fairly new rim company, and its Charge comes in a silver finish that matches the paint on our truck perfectly. The wheels are a 20x8.5 inches with a smooth six-spoke design. Besides the silver finish, the wheels are also offered in either chrome or black chrome. If a 20-inch wheel isn't big enough for you, they are also offered in 22s and 24s-not bad, one wheel with three sizes and three finishes.

To wrap our rims, we contacted Fuzion, another fairly new company. Not only did it have the correct size tire we were after, 275/45R20, it was a high-performance piece. Featuring a V speed rating, these suckers are good for 149 mph-it's not that our V-6 Dakota can go that fast, but it's just nice to know we can push the tires that fast if we want. The reason we wanted a 275/45R20 was because it has a 29.8-inch outside diameter. This is only 0.7 inch larger than the factory 29.1-inch od the stock 255/65R16 tire has, so our speedo will only be off by 2.4 percent. This means at 60 mph our speedo will say 58.5, which is livable.

Back to our lowering parts dilemma. As stated before, we didn't want to do a bunch of research or take a chance mismatching parts. Enter Godfather's Customs. We logged on the company's website, and after entering the year, make, and model of the truck, the perfect solution popped up. Ground Force Suspension makes a 2/3.5 drop kit that comes with everything needed, including a specifically tuned set of shocks in one box.

To have everything installed, we contacted Noe Roman from HighRoller Motorsports in Huntington Beach, California. HighRoller is a full-service shop with some talented fabricators/installers manning the bays. Not only does the shop have a great crew, there's also a Hunter laser alignment rack on site. So, after the lowering components are in, we can get the wheels straight without putting any undue wear on our tires.

The job only took a few hours, and that's because we were getting in the way and stepping on the air hose. Once the truck was finished, we took it out on the street and gave it a testdrive. The owner of the truck stated, "It handles more like a sports car than a truck." When asked about the new ride, he said, "The ride is noticeably stiffer but not so harsh to be an issue. It makes me want to drive my truck again, only faster."

Part One: The Front
The job started with Ruben, our installer from HighRoller, securing the truck on a lift and stripping off the wheels. As you can tell, these are not the factory Dodge rims. It was easier to swap them out at home rather than hauling them around in the bed.

Part Two: The Rear
Moving to the rear, Ruben used a stand to compress the rear leaf pack just a bit before removing the shocks with a 15mm on the top and a combo of a 15mm and an 18mm for the bottom hardware. The upper nut for the shock has a little ear attached at the factory, so you won't need a wrench to hold it. You can thank Dodge for that little time-saving detail.

Part Three: The Alignment
Ruben put the new Black Rhino/Fuzion combo on the truck and handed the keys over to Jaison (Jaison is the way he spells it; isn't he fancy?), the in-house alignment guy at HighRoller. He pulled the truck on the Hunter alignment rack, hooked up all of the sensors, and got our truck back within spec. Even though these Dakotas are kind of a pain to get right, he had it done in record time.

The Final Word
With the parts installed, the Dakota looks noticeably better. The drop lowered the truck just like the box said, 2/3.5, and the 20-inch wheel and tire package fills up the opening just perfect. Not only does the truck look better, it handles great. The Ground Force kit is tuned perfectly and improved the handling of the truck by 0.52 Gs, according to our G-Tech. We tested the truck on the closest thing to a 200-foot skidpad we could find, which happened to be the parking lot of Angels Stadium. Let's try to keep that a secret, OK?

SOURCE
High Roller Motorsports
www.highrollermotorsportsinc.com
Tesla Electronics Inc. (G-Tech)
www.gtechpro.com
Black Rhino Wheels
www.blackrhinowheels.com
Fusion Tires
www.thefuzionzone.com
Godfathers Customs
www.gcustoms.com
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