Elvis had it right. You can do anything—but stay off of my blue suede shoes.
That’s how Matt Archuleton feels about his similarly colored 2014 Ram 2500. He’s already been through all sorts of vehicles in his life over the last 18 years or so, starting out as a young teenager working on lowriders, then moving up (literally) to a string of Ford trucks. Along the way he picked up a knack for tools, and now works as a rep for Mac, driving one of those vans chock full of everything a mechanic could ever wish for.
So when it came time to build his next truck, Archuleton knew he wanted to go up rather than down. “I like ’em all,” he says, referring to his shift from lowriders to lifted trucks, “But I don’t want to worry about getting off the driveway and scraping the chassis.”
Archuleton wanted his ride to stand out from the crowd in his native New Mexico. After all, life in the Land of Enchantment is not like the big city—piñon trees, turquoise jewelry, cowboy duds and green chilies are more the norm. He needed something different—something big, blue and bodacious. Archuleton started out with a Ram 2500, a truck recommended by his buddy Johnny Ramirez of Fusion Bumpers (whose truck we’ll feature in an upcoming issue), and set to work with help from his friends Chris O’Toole, Frank Bazar and Matthew Santillanes.
FTS (Full Throttle Suspension) handled the lift; in fact, Archuleton’s 2014 model was the prototype for a new suspension setup. Working with the Ram’s coilover setup is a bit different than other types of truck suspensions. While the rear uses a simple 6-inch spacer, the front is raised a full 10 inches using custom coils that level out the suspension front to rear. James Bearto of FTS says the bowing of the coils was a challenge that was overcome by adjusting the pigtails on the ends. FTS 2.0 reservoir shocks keep the Ram’s setup settled down on the dips and droops.
FTS also re-clocked the transfer case by adding a plate between transmission and the case in order to rotate the pinion downward on the front driveline, and a drop-down crossmember for the transmission provides more clearance for the front driveshaft. Other mods included longer sway bar links, a track bar re-locater, and crossover steering that moves the mount on the passenger side from the bottom to the top of the knuckle. Lastly, a dual steering stabilizer keeps the oversized tires steady and on track.
To tackle the roughest stuff those New Mexico roads can throw at him, Archuleton chose BMF 22-inch rims wrapped with 40×15.50 Toyo Open Country tires. While he has plenty of open country to run on near Albuquerque, Archuleton notes he usually does that in a Polaris Razor, using the Ram to towing a 24-foot enclosed trailer for the UTV.
For better pulling power he added S&B’s cold-air intake and Diamond Eye Performance’s 4-inch cat-back exhaust, along with an engine tuner, the Edge Juice with Attitude. He keeps it at the more torque-inducing #2 setting (the tuner runs all the way up to #6 and has a “Hot Unlock” mode for off-highway use). He figures the torque curve goes as high as 900 lb-ft, not including the gains from the intake and exhaust.
While his truck is certainly capable enough for duty in the dirt, he’d rather not scuff up the innovative show treatment, which includes burly Fusion bumpers and an aggressive front mesh from Status Grilles, which is studded with low-profile spikes and a color-matched center emblem. There’s also a set of ear-splitting train horns under the rear bumper, with a VIAIR air compressor tank mounted in the carpeted bed.
As for that sky-blue flat finish on the body, it’s a 3M vinyl wrap, applied by 2ONE3 Graphics. “I liked that color—it’s sorta ‘in’,” Archuleton says, comparing it with the sensuous hues seen on big-buck exotic cars. Done at the last minute, just a month before the truck’s debut at the 2014 SEMA Show, wrapping a truck posed a few challenges.
“You have to prep the truck almost like you’re doing a whole new paint job,” he notes. Instead of sanding the surface, though, the body just needs to be cleaned thoroughly, with all of the trim and accessories removed before fitting the film.
A vinyl wrap does have its advantages over paint. No polish or wax needed, for one. Just wash and dry, with Auto Brite products being Archuleton’s preference when getting ready for shows. (He has to be careful not to use any petroleum-based products, as they can leave a shiny finish.) And if a section gets damaged, it can be easily color-matched with a new piece. It’s also less expensive than a high-zoot custom spray, and yet that’s exactly what some folks think it is at first sight.
“’What kind of paint job is that?’ they ask,” Archuleton tells us. “And when I tell ’em it’s a wrap, they ask, ‘What’s that?’”
Archuleton managed to come up with exactly what he wanted—a truck that doesn’t blend in with the crowd. We love the look of his blue suede Ram, and we’re sure people who see his truck will agree… and will heed Elvis’ advice. DW