My 2001 Dodge Ram

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Click thumbnails for larger image.

This is my 2001 Dodge Ram 1500 SLT Laramie named "Truckie". Yes, I named my truck.

Factory Stats:
* Standard cab / long bed
* 2WD
* 5.2L (318ci) V8
* 5-speed manual transmission
* Click for detailed specs

Custom Touches:
* American Racing 16x8 polished Baja wheels
* Michelin P255/70R16 tires
* Western Chassis rear drop shackles
* S&B cold air intake kit
* Flowmaster cat-back exhaust kit
* Rhino Liners spray-in bed liner
* Century tonneau cover
* OEM Fog Lamp kit
* OEM "Sport" tail lights
* Gray front bumper trim painted black to match body
* Debadged doors
* Husky Liners mud guards
* Bazooka powered subwoofer

The History of Truckie

When Dodge introduced their new look for the Ram back in 1993 I immediately took note. I am not much of an automotive enthusiast, but the new '94 Ram certainly turned my head. I still think the '94-'01 Ram is one of the coolest looking vehicles on the road. I even toyed with the idea of buying one back in '94, but I was just out of college and needed to be more practical about life.

Fast forward to the year 2000. I had an assortment of older cars and a crappy beat-to-hell '85 F-150. I started thinking about a new truck. When I say "new truck" I mean new to me, not brand new. Brand new vehicles are economically illogical. But then I began to realize that I wasn't going to find what I was looking for on a used car lot. My vision was unique. The majority of modern trucks on the road are of the popular extended cab / short bed configuration. But I wanted the long bed with its greater cargo capacity and larger gas tank. And I was going to need to stick with a standard cab to keep the truck affordable and to keep the wheelbase within a reasonable length. Moreover, I like the look of the standard cab / long bed configuration. Most people opt for 4WD. I wanted 2WD as I had no intentions of leaving the asphalt. Most people go for an automatic transmission. I wanted manual just for the plain fun of it. In fact, the manual transmission was at the top of my want list. The truck I had in mind was pretty much the exact opposite of what everyone else now buys.

I briefly considered Ford and GM. I have nothing against Ford, but the F-150 was butt-ugly in 2001. The GMCs seemed overpriced. I liked the Chevys, but in the end I was drawn back to the Ram's styling. I was also aware of the next generation Ram trucks due out for the '02 model year. I had some concern that my new '01 would quickly come to feel old and outdated. That hasn't happened. To this day I still believe the '94-'01 Ram is the best-looking truck on the road.

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My tired old F-150. Well... It was a standard cab, long bed, 2WD with a manual transmission. See a pattern here?

I ordered my Ram from Fair Oaks Dodge near Vienna, Virginia. I ordered it around the middle of January '01 and had it by the end of February. My greatest disappointment was that the Ram 1500 could not be had with the big V8 and a manual transmission. The fun-factor of a manual couldn't be ignored so I settled for the small V8. I regret not getting the sport package and the towing package. But I refuse to finance a vehicle and I had a budget to work within. I didn't check the fog lamp option, but then changed my mind and ordered the OEM fog lamp kit a few weeks later. My wife didn't like my first color choice of bright red so I went with black. Most of the truck's trim parts are black so the black paint really makes it all look sleek and uniform. In the end I was happy with my choice, but black has to be the worst color for showing dirt and scuffs.

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Truckie's window sticker (Click for larger images).

The day after I took delivery of the truck I had a Rhino Linings spray-in bed liner installed. Then I got a diamond-plate aluminum toolbox. The toolbox was a compromise. It didn't look all that cool, but I needed the additional enclosed storage since I didn't go with an extended cab truck. I decided to continue with the "industrial look" and bought matching running boards and splashguards. I also added a Bazooka powered subwoofer to go with the factory stereo. One thing I dislike about these trucks is the gray plastic trim around the front bumper and fog lights. No matter what color you order, the trim is always gray. I took these three parts to a body shop and had them painted black to match the rest of the truck.

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In this picture the truck is only about a week old. The front bumper is still gray and I've yet to pull the "DODGE" decal off the tailgate.

Of course a pickup truck is always useful for hauling building supplies and furniture and such, but for the first two years I primarily used the truck as my daily commuter. Not too practical, but damn fun. My place of employment had an underground garage and I found a secluded parking space with a concrete column at each corner. The truck was always well protected.

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The two pictures above were taken during the summer of 2001.

By the summer of 2003 my wife and I were between homes and we found ourselves living in a far away apartment. I began using a commuter train to get to work. But the commuter parking lot was not the kind of place I wanted to abandon my truck five days a week. I decided to buy a 1992 Ford Crown Victoria ex-police cruiser (a.k.a. the "Bluesmobile"). This was the ultimate beater car. It looked like a total POS on the outside, but comfortably floated along like a big old dinosaur and had plenty of get-up-and-go. It was a great car!

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'92 Crown Vic (a.k.a. The "Bluesmobile" (a.k.a The "P.O.S.")).

By 2004 we were in our new home and the truck had a garage to call its own. I sometimes still use the truck to haul and tow stuff, but for the most part the truck has been elevated to "toy status". Mostly it just comes out to be washed and to go for Sunday joy rides.

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Moving to the new house.

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Truckie helping with some yard work.

Speaking of towing, it was around this time that I bought a 6'x12' Haulmark enclosed cargo trailer. Click to go to my Haulmark Cargo Trailer Page.

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6'x12' Haulmark cargo trailer. Click the link above for my Haulmark cargo trailer page!

In 2007 I added a Car Mate trailer to my fleet. This is a 5'x10' open trailer with a tilt bed. I bought this trailer in anticipation of putting a fiberglass tonneau cover on the truck. I still wanted some sort of open-top means for transporting bulk materials such as mulch and manure. Click to go to my Car Mate Trailer Page.

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Car Mate SST 5"x10" trailer. Click the link above for my Car Mate trailer page!

Beginning in the summer of 2007 I began changing the look of the truck. In August I scrapped the running boards, added new Husky Liners mud guards, debadged the doors and bought new American Racing Baja wheels and new Michelin tires.

Two years later... I finally got around to replacing the tool box with a fiberglass tonneau cover by Century. I also added a Flowmaster cat-back exhaust kit. And I installed a pair of Matrix tail lights (which are Taiwan junk and highly NOT recommended). Finally, I added some Western Chassis drop shackles for a subtle 1" drop in the rear. The top of the page shows the truck as it currently looks.

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The old toolbox was replaced by a smaller plastic box for storing my odds and ends. I also added a removable plywood partition for keeping things from sliding forward.

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Comparison of the rear suspension height before and after modification.

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A Western Chassis drop shackle compared to the stock shackle. These are 2" drop shackles, but I selected the mid mounting holes for a more subtle 1" drop.

Stereo Upgrades

As noted above, I added a Bazooka powered subwoofer soon after I bought the truck. Beyond that, I never got around to upgrading the stereo until 2009. I have two problems with aftermarket stereos. First, they're ugly. I want something that looks like it belongs in my truck, not something that looks like it fell off a spaceship. Second, I felt that what ever I bough would become obsolete long before I'd ever get my money's worth out of it. But then I decided to take a completely different approach to the issue by adapting an existing Chrysler radio to accept an auxiliary input. With an auxiliary input I can connect any portable music device to the radio. As technology evolves, I simply upgrade the portable music device and keep the rest of the system as is.

First I swapped out my old AM/FM/Cass radio for a different Chrysler model that has a few more features including controls for a remote CD changer. Old factory radios can be found on the Internet as new or reconditioned. I'm not sure if the 2001 Ram was ever offered with this particular radio, but all the connectors are the same, so it's a plug–n–play swap. Moreover, it's a Chrysler radio so it fits right in with the rest of the dash controls and looks like it belongs.

Next I bought a Precision Interface Electronics (PIE) interface box (model CHRY–AUX) that converts the CD changer jack on the radio to an auxiliary input. Then I added a Peripheral Electronics adapter (PDM35) to convert the PIE RCA plugs to a clean–looking dash–mount 3.5mm auxiliary input plug.

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Existing Bazooka subwoofer behind the passenger's seat.

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New radio (top) compared to old radio. Note the equalizer and the stick balance/fade control as well as CD changer controls.

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The new radio (top) has all the same connectors so this was a plug–n–play swap. Note the additional connector at top right for the CD changer.

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New radio installed. It's a Chrysler radio, so naturally it looks like it belongs there.

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PIE box and Peripheral adaptor cord.

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The 3.5mm plug is inconspicuously mounted below and right of the 12 volt power outlet.

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Here's my new setup running on an old DVD player. The whole point of this project is that I can replace the DVD player with anything else I want.

Air Box Rant

For years I've been angrily perplexed at the design of the factory air box on these trucks. In order to access the air filter the clamshell-like lid needs to be removed, which is held to the engine by an awkward, difficult-to-get-at mutant hose clamp. Not only do I have trouble with this box, but I must inspect it every time I have the truck serviced. Often the Chrysler-trained mechanics don't even get the damn thing back together right. The engineer who designed this needs to have their ass kicked. Dude, seriously... a friggin' hose clamp? Just to check the filter?

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WTF?

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Stretching over the fender and holding the clamp, gasket and air box in proper alignment while tightening the clamp takes more hands than I have.

In the summer of 2009 I finally got around to replacing the stock air box arrangement. I wasn't really looking for a performance increase. I just wanted to rid myself of that irritated feeling I'd get every time I'd look under the hood. I selected an S&B intake kit because it looked like it had few parts and would be easy to assemble and install. It was. The box makes use of space and mounting holes that were intended for a battery tray in the diesel powered Rams (at least I think that's what the space is for). In any event, it was a simple install with no hole drilling or other modification. I dressed things up a bit with some old door badging.

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The new S&B intake kit.

S&B Update: The intake kit wasn't quite as plug and play as I had hoped. The intake tube was too long. It extended so far into the intake box that I could not get the filter off and on with out removing the tube from the throttle body. I cut two inches off the end of the intake tube. Also the "S" bolt was too long. There was far too little clearance over the top of the bolt. It was too hard to get the bolt in. It was too hard to get the intake tube off and on. And it took forever to thread the nut off and on. I cut ¾" off the top half of the bolt. Now it's all easier to work with and I'm happy.

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Cutting down the intake tube and "S" bolt.

In 2009 we bought an RV, although we usually tow it with Wifie's Trailblazer. Click to go to my RV page.

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The new RV.

As noted above, I added a pair of Matrix tail lights. I bought these because I liked how they looked, but they turned out to be pretty cheesy. The black didn't quite match the truck. The fit was questionable. And the lenses would fog in the rain or when washed. Moreover, they failed my state's required safety inspection. Apparently tail lights are supposed to have a D.O.T number and these did not. So the Matrix lights lasted less than a year and I had no reservations over tossing them in the trash. Having been burned on the aftermarket lights I went to a Dodge dealer and ordered a pair of OEM "Sport" tail lights. These are the gloss black units that would have come with the truck had I ordered it with the sport trim package. So I still got a little something of a custom look since there are no factory Rams with gloss tail lights and chrome bumpers. Oh well...

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Comparison between the original tail lights, the Matrix lights and the current "Sport" lights.

February 2011 - Truckie turns 10 years old!

(with 79,700 on the odometer)

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After 10 years I finally got around to framing the window sticker and hanging it on the wall.

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I still had some parts left from debadging the truck. I made a wall hanging using a picture frame and a piece of plywood.

Here's an old eBay find that I also got around to assembling. Without any paint the model is a pretty close match with my real truck. How ironic that you'd have to paint the bumper trim gray to make the model look like a factory Ram.

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AMT box.

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Finished model.

And I picked up a Dodge Ram inspection truck to go with my Lionel trains.

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Dodge Ram inspection truck by Lionel.

In May of 2011 we traded the old P.O.S. police car on a 2009 Silverado 2500HD. The Silverado will serve as daily driver and RV tow vehicle. I didn't really want another black truck, but that's how it worked out.

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The black pickup truck collection.

Around 2011 I joined a local car club, the Chrysler Products Owners Club. In August 2012 I participated in my first car show, a CPOC outing held at Safford Chrysler of Warrenton. An 11 year old stock pickup truck isn't going to grab much attention, but it was fun nevertheless.

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2012 CPOC car show at Safford of Warrenton.

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2013 CPOC picnic at the National Capitol Trolley Museum.

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2016 CPOC car show at Safford of Warrenton.

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