Most car guys are fans of all cars, but there are those out there who are a little more fanatical about liking one particular brand over another. Those camps are typically divided between the Blue Oval guys and the Bow Tie bunch. But it's when you bring the Chrysler guys into the fray that things become interesting.
Through the 'teens, '20s, and '30s, Ford and Chevrolet battled each other for sales supremacy, with the Dodge Brothers (who were later bought by Chrysler in 1928) coming well behind the leading two manufacturers. To drive that point home, half of the world's production of vehicles in 1924 was a Ford product!
But that doesn't mean much to those devoted to products developed under the Pentastar (the five-pointed logo for Chrysler products that first appeared in 1962). By the time the '60s rolled around, Chrysler was well known as one of the Big Three, and for good reason.
And while Ford and Chevy automobiles looked fairly similar in those early days, Dodge and Chrysler vehicles always seemed to look different (remember the Airflow?). One facet of Dodge/Chrysler legacy has been the success of its truck line. From the early KC model of the '30s to the Ramcharger of the '60s, Dodge trucks have always enjoyed popularity with the American driving public.
Ray Evernham knows how much Americans like Dodge products, and so does he. Ray helped revive the International Race of Champions (or IROC) series in the early '80s (when he was 26 years old), had 116 top five finishes in Winston Cup Series racing (winning 47 of them) as Jeff Gordon's first crew chief (from '92 to '99, including Gordon's three NASCAR Winston Cup Champion wins in 1995, 1997, and 1998), and collected dozens of wins as a NASCAR team owner (with drivers such as Bill Elliot under contract) in the late '90s and into the new millennium. In 2001, with the backing of 3,000 Dodge dealers and the Chrysler factory, Ray helped bring Dodge back into NASCAR after a 16-year absence. So to say Ray Evernham likes Dodges is like saying kids like ice cream-he's all over it.
Hot rod interiors were more...
Hot rod interiors were more functional than glamorous in the '50s, so the interior to the Dodge reflects that concept.
When Ray came up with the idea to have a hot rod truck built with the flavor of the '50s, he looked to D2 Rods in Mooresville, North Carolina, to get the job done. The D2 facility is smack dab in the middle of NASCAR country and was formed in 2004 by two Dans: Dan Baker and Dan Richardson. Baker is from Ohio and brings his body and paint skills to the team, while Richardson is a SoCal transplant whose mechanical and assembly expertise rounds out the twosome.
Knowing Ray's penchant for the Pentastar, they began looking for a suitable cab to begin the project and found it in Delbarton, West Virginia, though it did have some rust and some signs it had been involved in a minor rollover (is there such thing as a minor rollover?).
The frame for the truck was custom built to fit the cab and to provide a super-low stance while retaining drivability. Set up on a wheelbase of 115 inches, the 2x5-inch tapered chassis uses a Ford 9-inch out back with parallel monoleaf springs while hairpins and a dropped I-beam axle were used in the front suspension up front. All four corners utilize big Buick aluminum drums as well as a set of steel rims (15x5 and 16x7) wrapped in Coker Classic whitewalls (G78-15 and 750-16).
Hidden under the custom wood-lined bed is a 15-gallon ATL bladder-type fuel cell-one of several items on the truck that make it safer than your average hot rod truck. Another item is the collapsible aluminum steering column out of a race car, which was fabricated to have a simple design without looking like it was taken out of some '78 Dodge van.
Without any hood, the engine becomes the focal point of the truck, and a '52 Hemi 331 was bored .030 over by Mike Heintz of Heintz Brothers Automotive, located in Statesville, North Carolina. The engine is basically stock internally except for a mild cam, and features a trick four-pot Holley 97 carb setup on top of twin log intake manifolds. Engine updates include a Bosch 100-amp alternator (mounted low to avoid detection), a Walker radiator, and a set of Sanderson headers and Hushpower mufflers from Flowmaster. The baby Hemi is backed to a three-speed manual trans, which was assembled by C&R Transmission in Mooresville.
So, you own a company that...
So, you own a company that was the cornerstone for Dodge to return to NASCAR's Winston Cup Series of NASCAR racing after a 16-year absence, and what make of motor will you want to install in your Dodge truck? A Hemi, of course!
The cab received a fair amount of custom work too, beginning with a 2-inch chop, performed by the two Dans and Bill Deese. The cab was then channeled 7 inches to provide the correct look before Baker used a 1 1/2-ton truck shell for an intentional oversize look for the truck (he also fab'd the insert). Things look stock inside the cab, right down to the twin gloveboxes. A set of whiteface VDO gauges are mounted in the center of the dash, and, with the metalwork done, Baker prepped the truck before he covered everything with PPG flat black paint.
Perhaps lending itself to the interior of a NASCAR racer, sections of brushed aluminum were used on the door panels, kick panels, and behind the bench seat created by the Dans. A simple red material was stretched by Chuck Guffey, an upholsterer working out of Statesville. Black carpet, a banjo steering wheel, and a white knob for the three-speed shifter round out the truck's interior.
Evernham took delivery of the Dodge in May of '06 and if you had looked between the thousands of people who attended the NASCAR race at Lowe's Motor Speedway in Charlotte, you might have seen the truck there. D2 Rods is continuing with their street rod building ways, and are currently working on a '41 Plymouth convertible project. For more on the dynamic duo of Dan and Dan, check out www.d2rods.com.
At first glance, you see that...
At first glance, you see that the bed is finished in blond wood with black bedstrips, but then you notice the wood sits high in the bed.