The Finest First-Gen Dodge RAM In The Land
When you’ve got a sizable mirror showing off the spotless underside of your 30-year-old first-gen, you’re practically inviting truck lovers in to take a closer look at your pride and joy. Without a doubt, we have to admit the tactic worked on us (and our cameras) when we bumped into Lorelle Hetrick and her ’93 Dodge ¾-ton. One encounter with her custom, banzai blue club cab and you’ll see why it’s a top pick at virtually every truck show she brings it to. But this truck’s story runs much deeper than winning trophies. It was a father-daughter project that took place at the family business, Automotive Solutions in northwest Ohio.
Four years ago, Lorelle and her dad were just finishing up a full, frame-off restoration on the truck. Not that the 80,000-mile, Cummins-powered Dodge that’d lived in Nevada most of its years needed any rust repair or fresh paint, but it was one of those projects that just sort of “snowballed.” “It wasn’t supposed to be a frame-off resto, but we just kept getting deeper and deeper into it,” Lorelle tells us. Now, her low-mile Dodge represents what might be one of the cleanest first-gens in the country. From the gloss black frame to the tweaked factory paint color to the original engine and transmission, Lorelle’s ’93 is as flawless as it gets.
The Mildly-Modded, Low-Mile 12-Valve Cummins
In terms of mileage, the 6BT Cummins under the hood of Lorelle’s first-gen thinks it’s still in the 1990s. The low-mile 5.9L has never been opened up, aside for a set of higher bar fuel injectors it recently received. Other fueling mods include a Bosch VE injection pump that spent time in the highly capable hands of Scheid Diesel. While there, the rotary pump was treated to a maximum fuel screw adjustment, a modified fuel pin and a 3,200-rpm governor spring upgrade. The Holset H1C turbo you see here is the untouched OEM unit, as is the intercooler and practically everything else in the engine bay.
When high quality paint and auto body work is in your blood, nothing less than perfection will suffice. Despite Lorelle’s Dodge being a rust-free, straight-bodied candidate plucked from out west, it didn’t stop her from tearing the truck down to a bare frame and starting over. Thanks to the care it was given the first two decades of its life, all the truck’s original body panels were retained. As mentioned, the work commenced at her father’s shop, Automotive Solutions, and the two pulled off the resto in relative short order. By the summer of 2019, it was road worthy.
Lorelle was definitely a fan of the truck’s original paint, but when it was time to shoot the first-gen she made sure to liven it up a bit. This mix of banzai blue is laced with metallic flake, which has an unmistakable “pop” in direct sunlight. And pop it does. “I’ve gotten best paint awards for it,” Lorelle tells us. And that’s in addition to the best female owned, best Dodge and best-in-show accolades she’s collected so far. The latter, best-in-show honor was earned in 2022 and on what is arguably one of the biggest stages for Midwest truck shows: the 4-Wheel Jamboree in Indianapolis.
Although Lorelle’s Dodge maintains the majority of its factory look, a bit of well-placed cosmetic and lighting upgrades go a long way in a show truck. A pair of aftermarket headlights from Top Gear Auto Sport help complement the face of the truck and the LED strips around their perimeter just seem to fit. Cleanliness and close-to-stock seems to be a recurring theme throughout the build, with no over the top aftermarket add-ons or gaudy bolt-ons. It’s the subtle details like this that make Lorelle’s first-gen so pleasing to the eye.
80,992 Original Miles
The numbers you’re seeing on the odometer are accurate. Lorelle’s first-gen has only rolled 80,992 miles over the course of the past 30 years. Most of them were racked up during the truck’s former life out in Nevada. In 2011, the truck made its way to Ohio where Lorelle’s father stored it in a barn. The plan was to give Lorelle the keys at 16, which happened. The extent of going all-out with a frame-off restoration, on the other hand, wasn’t part of the original plan. Looking back, those pre-driving days where the two worked on the truck side-by-side undoubtedly created lifelong memories.
Paint-Matching Touches & Gloss Black
One peek into the fender wells and you can see the results of the Hetrick’s handiwork. The paint-matched dual steering stabilizer, steering shaft and Bilstein shocks provide the kind of touches you’d expect on a high-caliber restoration such as this. Also notice the shiny frame, which was completely stripped down and sand-blasted prior to being coated in gloss black. The gloss black treatment was also applied to the truck’s leaf springs, hangers, shackles and front and rear axles.
The Perfect Execution Continues Out Back
From this view, the high gloss finish is noticeable on the rear Dana 70. You can also see where the custom, 4-inch turbo back exhaust system transitions into a massive, polished 8-inch tip. According to Lorelle’s future plans, the downpipe end of this system may soon be attached to a larger turbo. Other goals include adding a polished driveshaft for more underbody bling and different taillight lenses. Again, the underlying them of the build continues, with subtle changes being performed here and there.
22x16’s & Mud Terrains
Truck enthusiasts spend a lot of time contemplating how they’ll achieve the perfect stance—and we think Lorelle nailed it with her first-gen. Polished American Force 22x16’s provide the Dodge its broad-shouldered look while aggressive, Nitto Trail Grapplers complete its show-winning appearance. The 355/40R22 mud terrains measure 33.5-inches in diameter and, thanks to their advanced tread block arrangement, produce very little noise on the highway. Given the nature of a show truck’s life—combined with a past that’s consisted of very few miles being racked up—these Nitto M/T’s will likely be on Lorelle’s first-gen for some time to come.
More From Driving Line
- Curious to know more about the history of the Cummins-powered Ram? Check out this backstory on the first trucks fitted with the legendary 5.9L diesel I-6.