This article originally appeared in the May 2021 issue.
It’s an early morning in Payette, Idaho, a hard-working community approximately 60 miles from Boise, and the sun is just starting to peek out for the first time. The rest of the world is beginning to wake up, but the sounds of an active manufacturing plant have been ramping up for hours. This small population town is the headquarters for Fusion Bumpers, a custom bumper manufacturer for nearly 15 years where owner Johnny Ramirez and his talented workforce design and execute some of the industry’s best truck bumpers.
On this day we have stopped in for a visit, hoping to gain some insight into the secrets behind their success as well as get a closer look at Fusion’s Project X bumpers, a new price competitive option from the manufacturer.
In 2006, Fusion Bumpers pioneered the “low-profile” bumper with superior fitment and style. In 2010, they introduced the use of LED lights and LED light bars in their bumpers, which is now also is included in its new Project X Bumpers.
Inspecting the new line in the factory is one thing, but actually seeing the bumpers on a good-looking build helped us understand why they’re gaining in popularity in the pickup segment right now.
“My single cab 2019 XLT Ford dually has our entry-level bumpers on it,” says Johnny as we approach the truck for the first time. “They’re affordable at $2,000 retail for a set. You don’t have the flexibility of a custom Fusion Bumper, but you don’t have the wait time either. You can get them in a week since they’re already built and ready to go.”
Not Just For Show
Johnny’s current show truck has more than just a good-looking set of bumpers on it. For example, the truck wasn’t originally even a dually when it rolled off the Ford assembly line and in a short amount of time it’s evolved into a very impressive build.
“It’s a unique daily driver with over 48,000 miles on it and it hit 766hp on its last dyno run,” adds Johnny. “It runs hard, it’s fun to drive, and I use it every single day. Even though I have other show trucks that I could be driving, it’s still my daily driver.”
A lot of those miles were racked up traveling to shows across the U.S. where the truck was displayed to showcase the new line of bumpers.
“It’s been to LST [Lone Star Throw Down] twice, Daytona Truck Meet twice and was in our booth at the SEMA Show in Las Vegas in 2019,” adds Johnny. “I have put a lot of miles on it and we call her [Black Betty].”
Before [Black Betty] evolved into a dually, Johnny did an impressive number of upgrades to it, starting with a BDS leveling kit with the dual steering stabilizers. The BDS coil over kit included FOX shocks and it gave the owner the stance he was looking for as well as set the foundation for the build.
He then switched to the Platinum grille and ditched the halogens and upgraded to LED headlights with RETRO CUSTOMZ doing the conversion. RETRO CUSTOMZ in Florida specializes in custom headlight, fog light and taillight fabrication and was able to give the truck the high-end look Johnny was going for.
Under The Hood
From an exterior standpoint [Black Betty] was coming together nicely, especially after adding a hood from RKSport as well as lights from Offroad LED Bars. Plus for the bed of the truck Johnny added a Bed Rug and a Retrax tonneau cover, both Truck Hero brands, to give him clean and lockable bed storage. But Johnny needed his show truck to not only look good, but perform as well, so he turned to his friends at H&S Motorsports for a turbo kit and dual CP3 upgrade.
“H&S did a great job under the hood and all the tuning was done by DS tuning,” explains Johnny. “I also went to FASS for a fuel pump.”
The FASS pumps are proven to increase fuel economy, horsepower and torque while also saving your injectors and are considered a must-have install by a lot of diesel truck enthusiasts.
Final touches included upgrading the interior with the help from Roadwire Automotive Leather Interiors and at this time he also added JL Audio subs and C5 speakers with tweeters for an impressive sound system.
After being on display at several shows, Johnny decided it was time to give his truck another makeover and converted it to a dually. After doing this, new tires and wheels were needed for [Black Betty] so he turned to a wheel company who specializes in dually wheels. Dually Design Co or DDC wheels are designed to fit dually trucks that are stock height, and also those equipped with a leveling kit, or a lift kit such as the Fusion truck. Johnny went with 22-inch wheels from DDC with Nitto 37 Ridge Grappler tires for an aggressive look. A final touch was the GEN-Y Hitch that gives him the versatility to tow just about anything.
Until Ford changes the body style, Johnny doesn’t anticipate starting another show truck build as he’s very pleased with how [Black Betty] has turned out. It’s a great platform to display his Project X bumpers that are powder-coated black and sport a low profile for the right fit for his truck.
“Our show trucks are really important to our business and this unique truck gives us a different look compared to other trucks we’ve built,” concludes Johnny. “It’s a high-end truck, but it’s still an XLT and it fits well with what we want to do.”
With plans for what might be next for [Black Betty] unclear, you can’t rule out another major upgrade for this truck in the near future since Johnny is always looking to improve on greatness. In fact, that might just be the secret to his success with Fusion Bumpers and what keeps this manufacturer moving forward.
Daytona Truck Meet
Lone Star Throw Down
Offroad LED Bars