One of life's many questions that challenge off-road enthusiasts is: When is too much too much? Jim Branson of Silver Springs, Florida, had to answer that question before he could proceed with the buildup of his '85 Dodge D150 truck. Unhappy with the selection of 4x4s on the market, he decided to customize his truck to the exact specifications he wanted. As the owner of an air-conditioning and electrical business in Florida, he routinely transports heavy equipment to job sites. To handle the weight of those reels of wire and 3-ton A/C compressors, one of Jim's most important items was to rework the suspension and frame so that the Dodge could handle the demands of his profession.
Once Jim had come up with a reasonable set of parameters for his project, he began to assemble a rig that is twice the truck of any other out on the road - literally. Taking the frame of a '75 Dodge 4x4, Jim stripped it and then prepped it to be added underneath the existing truck's frame. When all was said and done, the '75 frame is considered to be the main platform to which all the suspension items are bolted. The frame from the original truck, his '85 two-wheel drive, acts as essentially one large support brace. Room for the massive 44x19.5x16.5 Super Swamper TSL Boggers mounted on 16.5x12 American Eagle Racing wheels is made possible by the custom-fabricated 9-inch lift kit. Using a pair of 8-inch Skyjacker front springs, all the mounting locations were custom-tabbed and strengthened. The rear springs are also 9-1/2-inch Skyjackers mated to solid steel lift blocks. As if the huge tires didn't already absorb all the bumps in the road, Rancho RS 9000 shocks provide further damping, while a Skyjacker steering stabilizer combined with a crossover steering system lends a hand in the vehicle's placement department. Due to such a high lift, custom rear traction bars were fabricated.
Powering the behemoth is the responsibility of a '69 Dodge 446-cid V-8. Blueprinted, balanced, and bored 0.040 over stock by Bob and Pete Motor Parts of Ocala, Florida, the final output is a staggering 485 horsepower. Of course, using only the best components, such as an Isky hydraulic camshaft, TRW-forged pistons, and custom-ported heads help just a bit, too. A Holley ST Dominator intake manifold rests at the top part of the engine, while a 750-cfm Holley Double-Pumper mixes the perfect air-to-fuel ratio. All of the hot gases from the chambers are routed through 1-7/8-inch Hooker headers to a dual 2-1/2-inch Hooker exhaust system complete with glasspacks. The firing line consists of a Mopar Performance distributor and AC Delco spark plugs attached to 8mm Mallory wires. Lubricating the internal components of the engine is a high-volume oil pump that acquires the oil from an 8-quart Miloden high-capacity oil pan. A custom-built six-core radiator ensures that the truck will never overheat on a hot Florida day. Running the stock electrical system and the 12,000-pound Warn electric winch are dual Carquest batteries that put out a combined 985 amps.
To deliver all 485 ponies to the tires, the stock four-speed manual transmission was swapped out in favor of a three-speed 727 automatic trans with a TCI torque convertor and a stall speed of 2,800. Further modifications to the transmission include a B&M MegaShifter, race clutches, a reverse-pattern manual valvebody, and a B&M fluid cooler. A New Process divorced 205 transfer case delivers power to the front via a Dana 60 axle with 5:86 gearing and a Trac-Lok differential. Power to the rear is distributed thanks to the Dana 70 axle with 5:86 gearing and a Powr-Lok differential. The front and rear driveshafts were custom-designed and fabricated to incorporate 3-inch-diameter tubing and 1410 U-joints. Four-wheel disc brakes handle stopping duties with ease.
Running rather close to his set of parameters for his buildup, Jim decided to keep the overall appearance of the rig somewhat subdued. With the exception of having a local body shop in Silver Springs, Florida, apply the brilliant-white Centari paintjob, the only additional item Jim installed was a bed-mounted spare tire carrier and a rollbar with four AutoZone off-road lights. The interior was kept basically stock with the exception of a Jensen sound system and an Uniden CB radio. To monitor the engine's vital signs, a combination of Auto Meter and Datcon gauges are used.
As insurance policies for when Jim's out off-roading in the mud, a clevis hook was installed at both the front and the rear of the truck. To supplement the winch and hooks, Jim also carries a Hi-Lift jack, a tool box containing plenty of tools, a snatch block, and two 30-foot, 6-inch-wide recovery straps.
At the conclusion of his buildup, Jim was happy that he went the route that he did. It's not often when an enthusiast gets the truck they want and still remains within this atmosphere. We guess you can see why we called Jim's Dodge the Outer Limits.
|Owner/hometown ||Jim Branson/Silver Springs, Florida |
|Make/model ||'85 Dodge D150 |
|Suspension ||9-inch Skyjacker lift kit |
|Tires ||44x19.5x16.5 Super Swamper TSL Boggers |
|Wheels ||16.5x12 American Racing |
|Shocks ||Rancho RS 9000 (front and rear) |
|Engine ||446-cid Dodge V-8 |
|Additional features ||Custom late-model bench seat; Jensen audio |
system; Holley 750-cfm carburetor; Isky
camshaft; Hooker headers and exhaust;
Warn 12,000-lb winch