Mike Freeman from Lakeland, Florida, likes the show- and-go approach and his '04 Dodge excels at both. His trophy-winning truck has 130,000 miles on it, and it’s his daily driver. Mike's family is in the cattle business, and over the years they've had lots of diesel pickups but have developed a warm spot for the ultra-reliable, Cummins-equipped Dodge. Mike ordered his brand-new, choosing the Dodge 3500 and specifying the single wheel option over the dualie. He also opted for the 4.11 rear instead of the 3.73. The factory sound system and deluxe interior were deleted since those were among the first upgrades scheduled for the new toy.

The design plan was simple, choosing understated versus gaudy and using lots of stealth additions to make the truck a standout. Mike always aims for the one-of-a-kind approach, like the subtle upgrade achieved by the '07 grille on the '04, coupled with an aggressively louvered Suncoast Ram-Air hood. HID headlights and foglights, Depot taillights, and a Recon LED lighting package provide high-tech illumination while N-Fab Nerf Steps ease entry and exit. This truck spends very little time in the boonies, but a little extra altitude and some off-road capability never hurts. The Rough Country 6-inch lift adds spacers on top of the stock springs while keeping the factory geometry and warranty intact. Rough Country Nitro 9000 series shocks span the longer distance and stabilize the truck. In order to properly fill the wheelwells, Mike chose polished 18-inch Classic II beadlock rims from Mickey Thompson and wrapped them with Mickey Thompson ATZ 37-13.50-18 rubber. Since it takes extra power to spin the larger-diameter wheels, bumping up the horsepower was next.

Recognizing the big-air-pump nature of the diesel, free breathing on the 5.9L Cummins was enhanced with a Banks High-Ram, Stage II AFE cold-air intake, and an MBRP 4-inch exhaust with pipes exiting at the rear wheels. Ported and polished internals on the HX35 turbo coupled with an Edge Juice with Attitude performance chip add to the fun. Since it doesn't make sense to build extra power if you can't get it to the ground, the factory transmission was upgraded by Tim Moye in Lutz, Florida, using the Suncoast Extreme rebuild kit. The final tally yields almost 450 hp and about 1,000 lb-ft of torque—almost enough to tow Gibraltar into the North Atlantic!

With custom and quick checked off the list, creature comforts were next, and a sound system was high on the list. Thanks to his previous experience with stereo competition, Mike already had a favorite and chose a high-tech mix of Soundstream components for the truck. The Soundstream 7022 head unit is a combination DVD/navigation/TV tuner that fits a single-DIN opening. It gives the appearance of a double-DIN unit, but you don't have to cut the dash. This one controls three separate Soundstream amps in the Dodge, beginning with the pair mounted under the driver and passenger seats. The first powers the 6.5-inch mids and highs in the door panels and the pair of four-way coaxial speakers in the dash. The second amp powers the five stadium loudspeakers mounted underneath the truck, providing surround sound to the crowd of spectators that inevitably gathers whenever the truck is on display. The third amp, mounted out of sight on the rear cab wall, sends 2,400 watts to the pair of Soundstream 12-inch subs in their own fiberglass enclosure, which is concealed under the hinged, rear seat cushion. The well-balanced setup is unusually loud and clear. The rest of the interior, stitched by Mike's friend Jamie, was done in marine black and white vinyl and covers the seats, headliner, visors, and shift boot. It provides a show truck look and the perfect serviceable choice for a daily driver. The finishing touch was the custom graphics, sprayed inside and out by Mike Grimes and Joey Carpentier in Lakeland, Florida.

The five-year project has been fun throughout and is far from over, with the truck getting new additions on a regular basis. Mike sends a special thanks to all his friends and family for their help in creating his dream truck.

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