Ram-bo

What do you do when your new Ram Hemi pick-up is just not fast or in-your-face enough? You whip out your wallet and go absolutely mental. What you end up with isn’t just a tough truck; it’s…

Words: Dave Smith, photography: Matt Woods

Over here, pick-ups have traditionally been mundane workhorses. This began to change about 20 years ago with the advent of well-equipped crew-cab grey imports such as the Mitsubishi Warrior and Nissan Navarra and, now, luxuriously appointed pick-ups are everywhere, treated and driven as a large family car.

Tell any American this fact, and they’ll just look at you oddly and say “Hell, what took you so long?” Over there, pick-ups outsell cars and you can have one as basic or as fully loaded, as economical or as powerful as you want. Even so, nothing quite replaces that bespoke, custom touch…

Enter David Boatwright Partnership, a company that has been bringing new American vehicles into the UK for many years. Some years ago, they massively expanded their parts and servicing operation, and, more recently, they’ve been offering a bespoke modification service. They concentrate not so much on a simple range of bolt-on accessories; more the custom, one-off work. This Ram is one example.

It’s a 2014 Ram 1500 4×4 Sport, which Boatwright sold to Svetoslav Tenev brand new and bone-stock. He took it away and enjoyed it for a while, then brought it back, saying he wanted to make it “bigger”, more outrageous, something he could use to go charging up the mountains back in Bulgaria. Myles at Boatwright Partnership takes up the story.

“We started with a four-inch BDS air suspension lift kit,” says Myles. “The truck came with factory adjustable air suspension; this kit adds extra lift, but keeps the OE adjustability so you can still drop it low enough to get into car parks. Then he chose the KNC 20″ wheels, and said he wanted the biggest, maddest mud tyres you can get. We said the biggest you can go on a lifted Ram is 35″, otherwise the tyres will touch the bumpers; he told us to fit 37” tyres and remove the bumpers!

“We fitted the monster tyres, and Bushwhacker arch flares to cover them, and replaced the bumpers with Go Rhino solid metal winch bumpers. The front one alone weighs 90kg (198lb); you could drive through a building! And we still had to grind it a little to clear the tyres – it took three or four guys a couple of days to sort those bumpers, including a remote-controlled winch on the front. We also added Amp Research side steps that fold out and light up when you open the door.

“For the mountains, the customer said he needed as much light as possible, so we started with LED spots in the bottom part of the bumper, and LED floodlights in place of the fog lamps. Then came a 20″ light bar in the centre of the bumper, and a Putco CNC-machined grille with LED light strips built in. This still wasn’t enough, so we added a 50” twin light bar on the roof! With all these lights on, you physically cannot look at the truck. We also fitted upgraded headlamp bulbs – the stock Ram bulbs are awful – and more LED floodlights in the back bumper as reverse lights, plus a big Magnaflow cat-back stainless exhaust and screens in the front headrests for the kids.

“He was delighted when he left, but before long he was back saying he wanted more power. The 5.7-litre Hemi engine gives 398hp as stock, so we first looked at re-mapping, but that didn’t give enough power so we looked at supercharging. Not many people seem to be doing much with the 5.7, so we had to do a lot of research and, working closely with a local motorsport company, added a ProCharger complete with intercooler, cold air intake, and an unlocked ECU with the blown map installed.

“That all went on beautifully, but in the process we realised that the brakes were not going to be man enough, so we fitted a Baer big brake kit with two-piece 15.5” discs and six-pot calipers, and upgraded to an aftermarket differential in the rear axle.

“Again, the customer was very happy, but then wanted to know what could be done to make it look crazier. I suggested a vinyl wrap, and he suggested camouflage, but it snows in the mountains so perhaps snow camouflage! We spoke to a few wrapping companies, and went with a company in Kent who had the best ideas about how to get it done. We took the truck to them, and they wrapped it, including all the door shuts and returns – it took five or six guys four days to do this, and involved removing the doors, door cards, bumpers, the lot, so it was a lot of work, but there’s no original paint visible anywhere.

“Then he asked what else he could do, and I jokingly suggested the interior… so he asked for a custom in-car-entertainment installation. The OE set-up in Rams is really good, with Alpine component speakers and a subwoofer, and you can’t change the head unit because the touchscreen for most of the truck’s other functions is built-in, so we had to fit a Harmon Kardon signal booster on the output.

“We took all the Alpines out, and replaced them with Audison component speakers – 6″ in the front with 4″ and tweeters in custom trimmed pods on the dash, and 6″ in the rear with tweeters in the door cards – and a really trick Audison eight-channel amp. The amp is tiny, but the sound is incredible, so lush, it’s like the singer’s in there with you. The sub is under one side of the rear seat, and the standard one is 8”. The guys made a moulded box to fit a 10″ JL Audio sub in the same space, with enough room for plenty of cone excursion without touching the seat! The JL mono amp is fitted on the other side, and the whole of the rear cab and inside the doors is fully Dynamatted. The bass amp is controlled with a tiny knob on the dash, and the whole system is fully digital and can be set up by laptop.

“The interior was the big one, last on the list, and the customer told us exactly what he wanted, what material, what pattern, what stitching, the lot. We gutted the interior, rebolstered the seats, and had them retrimmed with perforated black Nappa leather centres, grey Alcantara sides, and grey stitching. He wanted the rear seats to be heated like the front seats, so we got some of the same heating elements and built them into the back seats, and all the chrome trim was wrapped in piano black gloss.

“He wanted the dash trimmed in Nappa leather, but it’s thicker than normal leather so we had to sand the whole dashboard smooth, and had to keep sending the hides away to be thinned. The sill plates on the Sport are plastic, but the Laramies have chromed metal ones so we got a set of those and had them powder-coated black. The headlining… oh, God, I’m still having nightmares about the headlining! We had to have the screens and the sunroof out, make a new headlining out of Alcantara that extends all the way down the pillars, including the inner cover of the sunroof, and fit it all back together at the same time!

“Then he decided he wanted mood lighting! I thought I could do something a lot funkier than just plain white, so under the dash and the seats are mood lights that you can change to any colour you like using an app on your phone, or switch them to auto and they’ll fade in and out of different colours, or you can set them to pulse in time with the music. It’s like a nightclub in there!

“We put the truck on a dyno, but couldn’t do a full power run as it wouldn’t stay on the rollers. We got up to 560bhp before it started trying to chuck itself through the wall into the workshop next door. It’s not a handful on the road, though – it just picks up and goes, no drama, and you feel quite safe. For the size of the vehicle, it’s ridiculously quick.

“Before it was wrapped, the owner did take it back to Bulgaria to go charging up the mountains. Apparently all the border guards at the German border went absolutely nuts about the truck, and were queuing up to take pictures of it! Since the wrap’s been done, he just pops in now and again to add bits – he just enjoys the build. Now he wants to sell the truck and start another build, something completely different, brute power and flat-out horsepower. He doesn’t know whether it’ll be a car or a truck yet – he’s toying with different ideas, maybe a Ram, maybe a Raptor, maybe a Charger… I’m hoping it’s a Raptor; you can make those really fast!”

2014 Ram 1500 4×4 Sport

  • 7-litre Hemi V8
  • Magnaflow stainless exhaust
  • ProCharger supercharger and intercooler
  • BDS 4″ lift kit
  • KNC XD Bully 20×10″ wheels
  • 37″ Mudder tyres
  • Go Rhino bumpers
  • Bushwhacker arches
  • Amp Research side steps
  • Rigid Industries LED lighting
  • Putco Boss grille
  • 9,500lb front winch
  • Go Recon headlamps
  • AEM air/fuel ratio gauge
  • Baer big brake kit
  • Auburn limited slip diff
  • Rosen TV screens
  • Audison speakers
  • JL Audio sub & amp
  • Full custom wrap
  • Full custom leather & Alcantara interior

 

Thanks to: David Boatwright Partnership. They can handle all modifications such as performance parts, tuning, paint, wrapping, Illusion and Candy coatings… and even sell you the vehicle to put it all on! See www.boatwright.co.uk for details.