This article originally appeared in the March 2022 issue.
Ford’s brand is “Built Ford Tough,” which kind of says it all. Chevy went with “Find New Roads,” speaking to the explorer in all of us. GMC’s “Like A Pro” makes you want to be a pro, which, according to them, is accomplished through the ownership of one of their GMC vehicles. Even if the brand slogans exist as sales techniques, they each have something in common in that they stand for something. Whether you like it or not, you’re not just buying a diesel engine when you head down to your local truck lot for a new toy — you’re buying a message.
Matt Harmening also sells a message with his brand, Diesel Legiance (Instagram: @diesellegiance), whose slogan “Respect The Build” doesn’t really do the brand justice for all it stands for and tries to accomplish.
“When you think of a diesel truck, you think of a powerful, hard-working truck,” Harmening said.
That’s where the initial inspiration for the “diesel” part of the brand name came from, as Harmening sees Americans the same way he sees diesel pickup trucks: powerful, hard-working and reliable. He doesn’t exclude a build from his brand for not having a diesel engine, it’s more of what the diesel engine represents.
The Diesel Legiance website explains further the Legiance side of the name: “The term ‘Legiance’ represents not only our love and respect for our country, but also for our brave soldiers and first responders. We are all one people under God, within the custom build community, encompassing all builders who share our values and passion.”
Earl Harmening, Matt’s father, was a police officer, which gave Matt a lot of respect for the police force. Matt himself was a volunteer firefighter, growing his soft spot for first responders. Harmening also puts his money where his mouth is by donating a percentage of the proceeds he makes through the brand to first responder organizations.
The RAM Build
Harmening grew up in Pittsburg, Pa., with Earl taking him to custom car shows in the ‘80s and ‘90s. He was into lowriders back then and would buy VHS tapes about cars. His first vehicle was a 1980 four-door cargo van with a hole in the radiator, which meant Harmening had to carry water everywhere he drove. He sanded the outside down, spray painted flame details on the side and put his own personality into the build.
“Pretty much decked it out and made it my own,” Harmening explained. “That’s where my passion for doing this stuff as a side hobby really stems from.”
Throughout the years Harmening bought more cars, worked on them and then sold them so he could upgrade. Each got a little nicer than the last as Harmening became older with growing resources and skill sets. He now owns a decked-out 2016 RAM 2500 with a 6.7L Cummins engine that he bought off a friend who was letting it sit in his garage for two years (pretty sure that’s a party foul). On his builds he does most of the suspension, body and electrical work himself, but leaves the engine work to the mechanics.
“I’m not comfortable ripping my entire engine apart and rebuilding head studs and stuff like that in my driveway,” he admitted.
Harmening didn’t mess around when it came to lighting up his RAM. It features 20 white LED rock lights, eight interior RGB rock lights and RGBW LED wheel lights, as well as Spyder headlights and taillights. A 42-inch LED lightbar lights up the 8-inch McGaughy’s lift, which goes along with a 3-inch body lift. A MICTUNING LED tailgate light strip finishes off the lighting setup.
The truck sits on TIS 544BM 24x14-76 wheels and Toyo Open Country MT 40x15.5 tires with a GEN-Y 15-inch Mega-Duty drop hitch sitting on the back. It’s EFILive tuned with a Flo-Pro 5-inch straight pipe, aFe cold air intake, FOX 2.0 shocks, and Harmening went with Banks for a differential cover and pedal monster.
Other upgrades include RBP Extended Stealth running boards, Clazzio seat covers, a HornBlasters Conductor 244k Train Horn, oil undercoating from Steel City and a KENWOOD DMX907S Memphis Amp.
Harmening wants to upgrade the suspension lift to 10 inches, which would bring the grand total to a hefty 13 inches of lift. He also wants more rock lights on the outside, because you can never have enough lights.
Doing Something Creative
It’s 2022 and let’s be honest, technology is king. Harmening noticed his kids glued to their phones and instead of trying to get them off, he urged them to lean into it.
“You have the world at the palm of your hand,” he told them. “You don’t do anything with it; you just stare at other people being creative. Why don’t you do something creative?”
They responded with claims that it was too hard, so Harmening decided to show them how it’s done. He started to put work into his Instagram and even more impressively, he started his own YouTube channel.
“You don’t have to have something, or know someone or live in Hollywood to do something,” he explained. “You just have to have a dream of what you want to do and work at it.”
Harmening wants his brand to help people, spread positivistic mindsets and motivate, and his YouTube videos reflect that. Videos range from vehicle customizations to building a golf simulator in your basement. Essentially, he wants to help people have the know-how to perform these projects themselves.
If his Diesel Legiance slogan is “Respect The Build,” Harmening’s personal slogan would be “Dream big, set goals, work hard, smash goals, repeat.” That’s what he does, and what he plans to continue to do.