Truck: PWG Dodge Ram Rumble Bee
As a Los Angeles based automotive photographer/writer, each week I usually find myself behind the wheel of 2-3 new factory vehicles and 1-new tuned and dressed-up ‘project’ vehicle from an aftermarket company. I really enjoy the opportunity to test the modified versions the most because the aftermarket companies take the stock factory vehicle to a higher level of styling, performance and driving pleasure.
For the first time in my career of testing and photographing tuner cars and trucks, I had the opportunity to ‘follow the build’ from factory stock to full-blown tuner, of one of these modified vehicles. Larry Weiner, VP of Performance West Group, one of the country’s busiest builders of modified cars and trucks, located in Vista, California, said it would be a great idea to show enthusiasts the process that one of his vehicles goes through, from factory stock beginnings to a stunning ‘Show Winner’. Larry suggested that I follow the build of a 2004 Dodge Ram Hemi regular cab pickup truck that he dubbed ‘Rumble Bee’; it was scheduled to be delivered in a few weeks.
The Ram was delivered to PWG in the usual factory black paint and base trim level. Larry already had the artist renderings in hand and was ready to map out the route that the Rumble Bee would take-first a custom paint job and stripping, including a custom roll pan, bedliner, and hard tonneau cover, a custom fabricated ‘six-pack’ hood, a custom billet grille, more comfortable high-back leather seats and interior trim upgrades, a lowered and better handling suspension kit, bigger and stronger slotted disc brakes with four-piston calipers, larger and more stylish 24in. alloy wheels wrapped by high-performance tires; custom headers, a custom dual catback exhaust system with custom exhaust tips, a set of hotter spark plugs, a more powerful battery, an upgrade to the air-intake system and lastly, a supercharger kit designed specifically for the new Chrysler 5.7liter Hemi V8 engine.
The first stop was Mike Face Custom Paint, Body & Fender. Mike Face has built a solid reputation over the past 20+ years for doing some of the finest custom paint jobs in the industry.
The paint chosen for the Rumble Bee was Flex Products latest B-5 Blue. Larry chose the B-5 blue because it was the original order number of the same shade of blue paint from the factory when you ordered a 1969 Dodge 426 Hemi SuperBee. This new type of Sprectraflair Holographic Metalflake paint contains smaller and more defined metalflakes that sparkle into many different colors as the sunlight changes angles on the surface.
All the body panels were removed and prepared to be painted. A new roll-pan from Sir Michael’s and a Gaylord’s hard tonneau cover were ordered and painted B-5 Blue.
During this time a hood scoop from a 1969 440 Hemi SuperBee was found and delivered, along with the Ram hood, and all the metal hardware, to Ed Hembeck’s shop. Ed is the person to call first when you have to custom fabricate body panels, hoods, grilles, and bumpers out of fiberglass.
Ed first attached the ‘six-pack’ hood scoop to the factory hood and made a mold of both sides. He then made a fiberglass hood with a ‘six-pack’ hood scoop that includes the raised character line in the center of the front edge.