This article originally appeared in the September 2020 issue.
The RAM factory Night Edition includes specially-styled headlights, taillights, a third brake light, mirrors and hood badges right off the bat. It makes for a great appearance, but for Rob Johnson it was more just a starting point as he had bigger plans for his 2019 RAM 3500 MegaCab after he bought it. As is it was already a very accomplished gray machine full of character, but he was looking for more of a customized and rugged look out of his new beast.
How it looks today might get you fantasizing; as it kind of resembles a villain made of rocks that you might see in a video game. Most road vehicles are finished with metal, but of course the looks of the grille and the fender flares make this one characteristic of rocks. Rob bought the truck stock and got it outfitted in this major makeover by teaming up with Custom Auto in Idaho Falls, Idaho to do the installs. As you might imagine, a lot of time and effort went into it.
Background & Lifestyle
Rob, an Idaho Falls resident, acquired his RAM brand new off the lot last year. When he got started with his build, he aimed to do something more groundbreaking and out-of-the-box. He wanted a matte-colored truck with large wheels without a major lift kit, and he ended up going to town on it.
“I’m not into the idea of having something that’s up on stilts,” Rob says. “I wanted that full wheel well look, but still be able to venture out because I like to go hunting.” Rob also tows a boat and some recreational toys such as snow bikes, so he needed an all-around workhorse for a truck.
In addition to hunting and recreational usage, Rob’s truck spends a lot of time doing farm work, as he lives on a farm with his wife. “We have goats, pigs, cows, and chickens we take care of, and we use the truck to haul them as well as grain and feed when it’s harvest time,” he says. Even though the RAM sees some fairly heavy usage right now, because it is overbuilt it could handle plenty more.
Body & Exterior Work
Contributing the most to this truck’s unique rocky, rugged appearance is its Fab Fours open fender system, a Fab Fours Grumper (portmanteau of grille and bumper) grille and front bumper combo, and a Fab Fours Vengeance rear bumper. The high-profile fenders allow Rob to use the large 24-inch Fab Fours wheels wrapped in 40-inch Fury Country Hunter M/T tires without a large lift kit. However, he still uses a Rough Country 3-inch leveling kit to give himself the extra advantage.
Further outfitting the truck for the off-road is a custom-made front lower skid plate by B&S Customizing. To make all of that possible, the old fenders along with the back of the cab, the rocker panels, and the bedsides, were cut back. The Grumper is an aggressive, yet sophisticated bumper that gives the truck futuristic looks. The second biggest exterior component is the seamless wrap, which is 3M 2080 Graphite Grey with 3M 2020 Matte Black down the center of the hood, all covered with LLumar matte paint protection. “I didn’t necessarily want anything super flashy,” Rob says. “But I like the matte look, because it just goes so well with the dark grey wrap. The whole wrap works well with the color of my truck. If I take the wrap off at some point, the truck is still going to look awesome and have a fairly similar look to what it was.”
It also fits well with the LLumar window tint. The wheels are powder coated matte grey with black accents, and the wheel wells and cab sealing are finished with Rhino lining. All the powder coating on these robust parts was completed by TAG Coatings.
Since this is a brand new truck, Rob doesn’t want to risk putting his warranty in jeopardy so the engine upgrades on the truck are modest. They feature nothing more than an S&B cold air intake, an aFe exhaust and a GDP throttle booster. However, the truck does have a ton of extra gadgets. On the Grumper are Rough Country 3-inch wide-angle OSRAM LED cubes and on the rear bumper are Rough Country 6-inch long light bars serving as the reverse lights. The Grumper also has a WARN ZEON 12-S Platinum winch with a wireless remote integrated into it.
“I haven’t had to use my winch a whole lot yet,” says Rob. “But I probably will do a lot more with it in the future. I can see some use of it happening this fall. You never know what you could get yourself into when you’re hunting or farming.”
Lots of mud is out there to get stuck in, so the truck comes in handy for rescuing other vehicles and itself in that activity. Although the truck doesn’t have a full lift kit, it’s still tall enough that AMP PowerStep XL steps with rocker bars needed to be installed. Rob also installed a Bak Industries Revolver X4 rollup tonneau cover.
Rob doesn’t plan on doing much different with his RAM in the near future, but he does plan to further upgrade his hood. “I want to give it a bull nose,” he says. “However, RK Sports, the company I’m getting my hood from, pretty much shut that whole thing down because of COVID, so it’s not yet done. I really think once we get the hood, it’s going to set it off, because it’s going to make the nose fall nicely into the Grumper. That’s the full look I’m going for.”
In the future, when the truck ages out of warranty, he might go for more powertrain upgrades, but for the time being, he’s playing it safe. The cold air intake and the throttle booster are giving him plenty for what he needs. Rob wasn’t sure if this build was going to happen at first, as he had to first convince his wife.
“She wasn’t buying into the idea of this build being a farm truck,” he says, “because she didn’t like the idea of the wrap and finish getting so dirty. She didn’t understand what we were doing, but now she loves the truck. She actually drives the truck more than her normal car now.”
As always, you just have to trust those who know what they’re doing with truck builds, and you never know how the build will feel until you get your feet wet.
The truck is as off-road-ready as it could be with its tires, wheels, leveling kit, and monster bumpers. With the paint protection, the truck is actually better built for off-road torture, as it won’t rust. While the variety of this truck’s future activities is still in question, Rob wouldn’t trade the project for the world, “For now, it does what I want it to do and looks the way I want it to look, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.”
Custom Auto LLC
Fury Offroad Tires
TAG Coatings LLC