Standing Tall

This Ohio-bred truck is reaching for the stars

Published in the April 2018 Issue May 2019 Feature Trevor Mason

Look at this truck. Just…LOOK at it. If that doesn’t tell you everything you need to know, then I guess I don’t know what to say. For the unfamiliar, that’s a 2014 RAM 2500 sitting on a staggeringly tall 22-inch lift. Yes, that’s just shy of two full feet. For Clayton Cunningham, it perfectly achieves what he wanted when he started putting the truck together back in February 2017: to stand out from the crowd.

Living Large

Clayton hails from East Liverpool, OH, and works in construction and trucking as his day job. Like most aficionados, he got his start with diesels because of his dad. “My dad had a 2009 Cummins that he loved, so I just kind of became a Cummins guy just from being with him all the time,” he says. Believe it or not, this is his first diesel, and again, believe it or not, he did pretty much all the work himself.

Well before he had the idea for this truck, he spent a lot of his youth building buggies, Jeeps, and SUVs that were designed to be serious off-roading machines. That passion and expertise led to his truck purchase and ultimately this crazy-tall build. He says, “It started out that I was just going to use it for work. I didn’t really plan on building it to what it is now. I really just wanted a truck with a 6-inch lift on some 37s. That’s what the goal was and from there I just wanted to be different so I started making my own stuff. I started going away from what people normally see and I wanted to stick out a little bit more.”

He bought the truck brand-new and started off relatively small with a mere 2-inch leveling kit and a set of Moto Metal wheels. Soon after, he upgraded to a 4-inch lift and 35-inch tires with new wheels. Thus far he had been endeavoring to keep the warranty intact, but his thirst for more led him to void it altogether and proceed with his original plan of a 6-inch lift with 37s. He says, “After the suspension warranty was voided I decided it was finally time to tune the truck at 27,000 miles. I ran the truck like this for about a year, but it still wasn’t enough.”

Go Big Or Go Home

As with any diesel addiction, you always want to go bigger, so Clayton bought an 8-inch lift and added 2-inch spacers. Three weeks later he had a truck show he was planning on attending and decided to modify the lift yet again to go up to 12 inches on 40-inch tires. “I was dead set on that being the final transformation of the build,” he says. Can you guess what actually happened?

“About a year went by and I got bored with the truck and decided I was going to go a little taller with an air ride setup,” he recalls. He got in touch with Ultimate Air Ride to see if they could help him out. They offered a 9- to 13-inch ride height with a maximum lift of 16 inches. “For the money I didn’t want to be at the same height as before so I had them add spacers and then later on, I added my own to make the kit a 16-inch ride height with a maximum lift height of 20 inches.” Some of the extra work he did includes making new drag links, modifying the track bar bracket, and making a bolt-on track bar relocation bracket on the axle. He also went the extra step of constructing a dual steering stabilizer kit for the truck. He says, “I got the drag links and tie rods from Dodge Offroad and they don’t offer a dual steering stabilizer setup like that. Those shocks are supposedly for a Jeep Wrangler. I took them and used them as my steering stabilizer. It works pretty well, actually! It still has a little bit of wander, but part of that is just from being up so high.” To combat that wander, he’s planning on adding a hydro assist later this year.

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