Lifted vs. lowered—that’s been the eternal battle in the minds of truck enthusiasts. In the late ’80s and early ’90s, lowered trucks ruled the scene in Southern California. As the trend moved eastward, behind it came the pre-runner look and lift trucks. By nature, if you own a 4×4 diesel, you have to lift it for larger tires and wheels.
But what do you do to a two-wheel-drive diesel? You have both options: lifting or lowering. And to stand out in a crowd of lifted trucks, having a way-cool lowered one is the way to go. At last year’s Scheid Diesel Extravaganza we caught sight of one of the lowest Dodge duallies we’ve ever seen and it’s a perfect example of lowering gone right.
Rick Lamberti’s 2003 Dodge Ram 3500 was laid out on air bags at the show and garnered a lot of attention. The 32-year-old heavy equipment operator uses the truck as his daily driver three seasons out of the year, parking it during the winter when the weather in Bloomington, Illinois, can be difficult for a 2WD truck no matter the ride height. During the winter months, he drives the truck’s big brother—a matching Dodge 3500 Dually that is 4WD, lifted and rolls on 37-inch tires.
Lamberti purchased the truck new in ’03 and has been building it since then, modifying one thing after another to bring it to its current state. Cosmetically, the truck sports the hood and bumpers of an SRT 10, giving it a sport truck look. The rear bumper is even notched for dual 6-inch polished tips that exit straight out the rear below the bumper on the passenger side of the truck. Up front, the bumper and grille openings are covered with expanded mesh to protect the intercooler while looking better than the stock SRT 10 grille inserts. The bed is covered and secured with a low-profile LazerLite fiberglass hard tonneau cover that’s painted gloss black to match the rest of the truck.
To throw plenty of light onto the road at night, Lamberti installed aftermarket HID headlight assemblies to replace the stockers as well as a set of HID fog lights in the bumper. He also had SRT 666 badges made to show off the dark side of the truck. Of course, all of the windows are tinted black to continue with the dark and ominous theme, and the cab lights were replaced with tinted ones.
The truck rolls on massive 10-lug Alcoa 24-inch Classic Semi polished aluminum wheels wrapped in low-profile 295/35R24 Fullway HS288 tires on all four corners. The huge tires and wheels tuck nicely up into the fender wells when Lamberti lets the air out of the suspension and lowers the truck to the ground. Rather than just bolt on a manufacturer’s suspension kit, he developed and installed the suspension himself using parts and pieces from various manufacturers.
Up front, Lamberti installed a set of tubular control arms from The Little Drop Shop along with a pair of Slam Specialty RE8 air bags to adjust the ride height. Bumps are damped and controlled by a set of Toxic front shocks while the stock spindles and brakes keep the truck pointed in the proper direction and “whoa down” the truck when needed.
The rear required more work to get the drop and look that Lamberti wanted. He started by narrowing the rear axle by four inches so that the large wheels and tires would tuck into the stock dually fenders when lowered. Then he performed a C-notch on the frame and installed a two-link setup with a pair of Firestone 2600 air bags to control the ride height. A panhard bar keeps the rear end centered under the truck.
Originally, he used compressed nitrogen in the suspension system but later converted it to compressed air with a pair of Viair 480 compressors and a 12-gallon air tank. He plumbed the air system with 1/2-inch air lines with 1/2-inch Extreme 400 valves to be able to raise and lower the truck quickly. The system is controlled by a Dakota Digital air management system to dial in ride height. With the high-volume air system already in place, it was natural for Lamberti to also install a set of train horns under the rear of the truck.
Lamberti also massaged the 5.9L Cummins under the SRT 10 hood of his truck. While the internals remain stock, he augmented the fuel system with a FASS 150 fuel pump and filter system as well as a set of larger injectors to deliver more fuel to the engine. To flow more air he installed a BD Diesel Super B compound turbo setup with the compressed intake charge fed through a Banks Power intercooler, then through a Wilson Manifolds intake elbow and into the Cummins head. The engine exhales spent gasses through a 5-inch diameter BD Diesel exhaust brake and custom 5-inch diameter exhaust system that terminates at dual 6-inch-diameter polished exhaust tips below the rear bumper.
Lamberti installed a TST Power MaxCR tuner to enhance the tuning of his Cummins. The combination has dynoed at more than 500 horsepower and nearly 1,000 lb/ft of torque and motivates the low-slung truck very well. The Cummins engine is backed by a NV5600 manual transmission that uses a South Bend organic dual disc clutch to channel the power from the engine to the transmission and out to the rear wheels.
The BD Diesel exhaust brake and electronic brake controller make Lamberti’s Dodge great for towing, which he does, on a regular basis. Throughout the summer, it’s not uncommon to see his 25-foot ski boat hooked to the truck every single day. He says that the “truck is fun to drive, it rides like a Cadillac and pulls like a freight train.” It even delivers 22 mpg, making it a great truck to cruise to diesel events all around the Midwest.
Lamberti swapped out the stock seats for a set of SRT 10 two-tone leather and suede seats front and rear to make riding in the truck on those long road trips more comfortable. He also built a custom center console that holds a DD 8-inch subwoofer at the rear and the Dakota Digital air suspension controller at the front near the shifter. The front headrests sport a pair of Clarion LCD monitors for rear seat entertainment on the go, while a Pioneer double-DIN DVD receiver is mounted in the dash. Lifting the rear seat reveals a pair of 600-watt American Bass Merlin Series amplifiers along with a 1.5-farad capacitor and room for some basic tool storage.
Like most project trucks, Lamberti says that this one is not finished and he will continue to modify and upgrade it, but we think it looks pretty darn good as it is. The Show-N-Shine judges at the 2013 Scheid Diesel Extravaganza agreed—they awarded the truck with the Best Dodge honors on day one of the event. DW