Let the Games Begin!

By Craig Perronne

Photographer: Cole Quinnell

Hello and welcome to the land of endless coffee, major stress, midnight part runs, and 80-hour work weeks. What's all the fuss? Well, it all started out innocently enough. We had a hankering to build one heck of a project truck and lusted after Dodge's new Dakota Quad Cab as the foundation. Once Dodge saw what we had in mind, they quickly agreed to our scheme but, unfortunately, a truck wouldn't be available until a month before our set-in-stone deadline for completion!

Sure we could have changed our minds and gone the easy route. You know, bolt on a lift, add some 33-inch tires, and call it a day--but that wasn't part of our plan. We wanted to build one of the most radical and custom project trucks ever seen. Adding to the difficulty was that, besides looking awesome, our truck also needed to be functional--actually it needed to work well. The truck would have to be able to throw mud, blast over sand dunes, and crawl over rocks with the best of them. 

Big plans and big dreams are what we had in mind for the Dakota Quad Cab. The only stock components we planned to keep were the frame and the body. A live-axle conversion, front and rear Dana 60s, a mega-horsepower engine, and super-stout running gear were all in the works. Also floating around in our scheming brains was a seriously custom suspension that would have lots of wheel travel and be able to accommodate massive tires.

Our concept definitely involved lots of skilled labor and custom fabrication, so we needed a shop that we could trust to meet our deadline without sacrificing our high expectations. No small task but without hesitation we contacted Maurice Rozo at Off Road Unlimited (ORU). We had seen Maurice's work before and knew it was of the highest quality. The crew at ORU was eager to join in the madness and as soon as we took possession of our Dakota Quad Cab, it was dropped off at ORU and the cutting began.

In this month's installment, we will cover the driveline of the truck. It might seem simple, but as with anything custom, there were a few dilemmas. However, there was nothing the ORU crew couldn't solve. Stay tuned for the next installment, which will cover the radical suspension build-up.