By: Ronnie Ross
It all started in 1997 when I purchased my ’97 Dodge Ram SS/T, black with the silver stripes. I was working for a Chevy Dealership (Technician) in North Little Rock Arkansas at the time. Well shortly after my purchase I started a new job at the same place I bought my truck (go figure). I’ve always been more of a General Motors guy for older vehicles, but was bit by this Modern Mopar. After that, it just all started falling into place. I became somewhat of a Modern Mopar Nut, so to speak….
I’ve since owned my fair share of modern Mopars. I purchased a 2001 Jeep Cherokee 4.0 Liter two door sport with five speed manual, two wheel drive. I should never have traded that Jeep off; it was such a blast to drive and had plenty of take off power for the street. She lacked the top end power though, but who cares from stop light to stop light. I later purchased a 2002 Dodge Ram Quad Cab Sport SLT 4.7 V8, Silver and I had PPG Purple stripes painted on right after purchase. This kind of sucked since I was without my truck for about three weeks while they had my ride. It all panned out as I took home several trophies with her later that year. I love car shows, going and entering, although it can get a little numbing waiting around to be judged. That’s the price you pay to play.
I still had my SS/T and traded it in for a 2003 PT Cruiser, GT Turbo, and Purple in color for my wife to drive. Very fun to drive, I don’t know how I survived the streets without getting a ticket. I later traded my 2002 in for a 2004 Yellow Rumble Bee, should have kept her (dang it). I guess you can see the trend here, as I was going through to many Modern Mopars!!! Anyway, I was working as Mopar Technician and the truck pulled up with two of them on the carrier. I waited for the driver to unload and park it, and went straight up front to get the key!!! I talked to my service manager and told him to get the ball rolling as I’m buying her. He said “Are you serious?” I said, “Yes I am.” I pulled her into one of my bays so she could stay the night. The next day I signed paper work and started taking my accessories off my 2002 and putting them on the Rumble Bee. Entered a few shows and won a couple of trophies with her as well.
Here we go again, I got the bright idea that I wanted a toy hauler to take my sport bike to the track, so yep, I traded my Rumble Bee (a few tears shed) in for a (left over) 2006 Ram 2500 Quad Cab Cummins 6 Speed manual transmission, Big Horn edition, Silver in color. No stripes painted this time, LOL. Well, after the first year my camper started sitting and not moving much. Then I was deployed in 2008, same year Challenger SRT’s came out, missed that big debut while stationed at Camp Taji, Iraq. I purchased a couple of older Camaro Z/28’s off of eBay while deployed, and my wife picked them up. One 1984 red Z and a 1991 white Z, well I still have the 1984 and don’t have any plans to get rid of her at the moment. I told you I like GM’s, please don’t throw stones, they hurt.
Well, the end of 2009 rolled around and I started buggin’ for another ride and a 2007 Inferno Red SRT Design 300C made its way to my bay for a used car inspection (UCI). It wasn’t perfect but in very decent shape and, you guessed it I bought it. I got it cheaper since I took it as is and fixed the minor deficiencies myself. We drove it for a while and my wife and I really liked the car (my wife loved it). Here we are now in April 2010 and a B5 Blue Challenger R/T Classic has been sitting on the front showroom floor for almost three months, and I was really hurting coming to work every day having to look upon her beauty.
Well, I wasn’t really using my Cummins diesel like it should be used and the diesel prices had way surpassed gas prices now (just my luck), so I traded again!!! Man, I’m a glutton for punishment ‘cause I had my truck pretty close to being paid off, not the camper though. There goes my truck and trailer for the 2010 Challenger R/T. I guess it wasn’t too bad since I now have my Challenger that I told myself I was going to have one before I was fifty years old, which I did meet my goal by four years. So now I’m all happy with my new ride (still happy by the way) but, and this is a big but, I missed having a truck.
I’m working for a dealership so I put out the feelers to some of our wholesale buyers telling them I’m looking for another truck. Within a couple of weeks one of them (Ken, a cool guy) tells me about a 1994 4×4 Dakota extended cab 3.9 V6 he has. I tell him I’d like to see it, so on one of his runs he brings it up on his hot shot trailer for me to inspect. I drive it and of course it needs some work, but I go ahead and buy it from him. It’s a little beat on but nothing major and the engine is clean as a pin. I go about fixing the minor things any old vehicle needs. T-case and Trans were leaking; rear diff pinion seal needed replaced so I fixed them and even had the seals from left over parts… the good thing about being a Mopar Tech, ha, ha. Replaced two tires, and I’m now driving my Dakota (still have her). She’s a good stead that I don’t plan on getting rid of any time soon.
I think that I’m going to be okay with my Dakota when we get a used 2007 Ram 1500 SLT Hemi in Inferno Red and some nasty looking aftermarket 20’s on her. I didn’t get to do the UCI on her but I was thinking about my next truck and she was looking like a great candidate. Okay, so now I’m about to make my wife very unhappy, and I succeeded 100%!!! I traded my SRT Design 300C in and my 2006 Harley Davidson Street Rod in on my 2007 Ram. I even ended up with some cash in my pocket, one of the best trades I think I ever made!!! I used some of that cash to get some 2002-2005 stock Dodge Ram 20’s with nearly new Cooper tires on them. Now back to my wife, she has downgraded to driving the Dakota, like I said not a bad ride, but after a 300C she wasn’t happy one bit. Which leads us to the next; you guessed it, vehicle purchase.
Okay, after a couple of months I’m weakening quite a bit, and I guess the lord knew I couldn’t take much more so, low and behold in rolls a 2007 Charger SRT8 Super Bee in yellow with right at 50K on the clock. I took the keys and started performing the UCI on her. I wanted one of those so bad when they first came out, so I decided as repayment for the Dakota punishment I would get that for her to drive. Well, working a little magic and a down payment later, she is now driving an SRT. She has a tough life, huh??? I traded my 20’s that came on the truck in on some tires for the SRT8 and a little cash, at a local tire shop. Couldn’t have my wife driving around on bald tires now could I???
I know I didn’t mention it before but I’m a former Marine of 10 years active duty time. I left the Corps in 1993 and have been in the Arkansas Army National Guard ever since. My current rank is Chief Warrant Officer 3 and my total military time will hit 29 years December 2012. Anyway, I’ve been trying to get a government technician job all these years and finally ended up with one in May of 2011 (I’m running a Field Maintenance Shop at Ft. Chaffee, Arkansas). Well, the clutch started going out in the Dakota and I wanted my wife to have something good on gas to drive so I started searching and found a 2003 Silver Neon auto trans. I found it on Craigslist for Hot Springs, Arkansas and the price was a little steep. I called and went out to inspect/test drive it. It was missing bad, found out cylinder number one was totally dead. It had been wrecked but repaired properly and the body looked great. He wanted close to 3K but I told him there was no way I was going to pay that, so I offered $1500 and he took it. Now I’m in a race to get this vehicle done before I leave for my new job, which is about 140 miles away.
I go to work on the Neon, pull the head and replace one intake valve (burnt) and lap the rest. Replace the center motor mount, timing belt and water pump while I’m there. I replaced all the fluids, do a tune up and replace front rotors with pads. She’s been running like a top and getting over 30 MPG to boot. So my friends, that’s how I’ve ended up with a; 2010 Challenger R/T Classic, 2007 Charger SRT8 Super Bee, 2007 Dodge Ram Single Cab 1500 Hemi, 1994 Dakota 4×4 and a 2003 Dodge Neon for my driving pleasure. Well, I guess when you are a true Modern Mopar Guy, that’s what you drive and have backups too. I’ll leave my motorcycles for another time. This is my story and I’m sticking to it!!!