Give Me A Sign… – Lonnie Thompson’s ’12 Ram R/T

Give Me A Sign… – Lonnie Thompson’s ’12 Ram R/T

Lowered Ram 1500Story & Photos by Jason R. Sakurai

When you own a custom shop like Portland, Oregon’s Carolina Kustoms, you get a lot of notoriety, which comes with the territory. Risk is part of being bold, of creating something for which others might criticize you. So when it came time to build a truck for himself, Lonnie Thompson went with something different, a 2012 Ram 1500 R/T, which he bought used from a friend.

The first thing Thompson did when the Ram was back in his shop was dismantle it. He knew he wanted it to lay out, which would require fabricating a custom made monster c-notch and air bag brackets. This allowed him to use custom Michigan Metal Works A-arms and a four-link rear with Watts linkage, Slam Specialties RE8 bags and KYB shocks all around, controlled through an Accuair valve block with a speed switch, and two Air Zenith compressors backed by a 12-gallon aluminum air tank.

This Ram is a single cab, so going in, you know it wasn’t to be the family hauler or a shop truck. Planned all along as a display vehicle and calling card for his business, the braking system received an upgrade to drilled and slotted rotors from SSBC, which can be seen through the big windows in the Intro wheels. Do you think off-the-shelf wheels have enough lip for you? Not for Thompson, who had Intro custom build a set that runs 24×10 in. in front, and a cavernous 24×15 in. in the rear with an 11.5-in. lip. Those rear treads measure P405/35R24, were built by Pirelli once every three years and offered only by special order, just in case you were wondering.

Lowered Ram 1500Short of narrowing the rear end to something akin to a drag race differential, Lonnie was going to have to go a different route to cover those insanely wide rear tires. Having had the foresight to do a lot of measuring well before removing the stock pickup bed, Lonnie knew the dually bed off a 2010-2013 Ram Mega Cab would fit. He also found that beyond those years, the bed length grew to better accommodate the tradesmen that normally buy dually trucks, and later model beds wouldn’t fit a 1500 series pickup nor would the fenders match its contours. Using an AVS wheel tub kit, the bed was then seam sealed to waterproof and insulate it, before lining it with SEM Products Truck Bed Liner. Tinting the taillights and marker lights completed the body modifications.

Stripping the truck’s matte paint, that the previous owner had applied, in its entirety, Thompson recovered the Ram with PPG Viper Red and six coats of PPG 2002 Clear for a smooth, flawless finish. While Lonnie did the paint, body and sheet metal work himself, he shared fabrication duties on the Ram with his two sons, Dakota and Dennis.

Aside from the K&N cold air intake, Magnaflow exhaust system, and a tuner used to keep track of the air pressure in the bags, the 5.7L Hemi engine was kept pretty much stock for reliability and ease of maintenance. With 390 hp at 5,700 rpm and 407 lb/ft of torque at 4,000 rpm, delivered through the stock 6-speed automatic transmission, this was sufficient and one less thing Lonnie needed to change or modify on his truck.

On the inside, Thompson backed the factory Alpine head unit with a 600-watt Rockford Fosgate amplifier, and two 12-in. JL Audio JL W3 subwoofers in a custom box, which was built by Scraping Pavement’s Jacob Rohde. The stereo components were sourced through Portland’s Stereo King. This concluded a little over three months of work on the Ram for Lonnie and his crew, and now it was on to shows and events as he had intended.

Ironically, even though the Ram didn’t get taken outside of the shop more than three times since it was built, everywhere it did go all Thompson saw were a whole lot of thumbs up signs, great feedback for a distinctly different hauler.

Categories: Features, Trucks Plus