The Black Knight
Travis Bauman’s ’14 Dodge Ram 1500 family cruiser
For anyone not familiar with the chaos that comes with building a custom truck for SEMA, to make a long story short: It consumes you. Day and night, weekdays and weekends, the process and task of building a SEMA truck in less than a year really takes over your life from beginning to end. For Travis Bauman (known to his friends as Twigg), it seems his mind was too busy to focus purely on the twin-turbo ’11 Tahoe on 28s he had in the works for SEMA 2016 (known as Check M8). In the midst of it all, he yearned to have a vehicle that would be suitable and trustworthy to take his family on trips yet stylish enough to pull straight into a car show upon arrival. Shortly after these thoughts began, Travis’ friend Jeremy Smith was considering selling his ’14 Dodge Ram—and that was all it took. Travis hopped on a plane to Florida, grabbed lunch with his friend, then drove the Dodge back to his home in Illinois 18 hours away. The rest is history, and here is how it played out.
Being the guy he is, Travis needed something he could roll down U.S. highways in, with family and friends in the cab, breaking necks along the way. For that, a custom suspension setup was installed on the Ram by Jimmy’s Rod & Customs. Using a set of custom A-arms as well as a one-off crossmember, Jimmy’s made sure this Ram would lay out hard on the frame with it’s air setup and six-link suspension. The combination of the newly placed body mounts with the Air Lift bags running on four Viair compressors made sure this truck was road-ready for the long hauls—instead of on and off trailers at shows. The 5.7L Hemi V-8 made sure the pickup had plenty of power straight from the factory, and Travis has no urge to change how reliable that motor is by modding it (aside from an extra boost of power via a custom air intake). A set of 26-inch Raceline Commanders was set on top of the custom brakes that were built as the first of their kind for a fourth-generation Dodge truck. Eric from Little Shop MFG created the one-off set of Wilwood 16-inch rotors with six-piston calipers for all four corners of the truck. They are not subtle in the best way; these big brakes really set the truck off. “I can’t thank him enough. I loved working with him on that feature,” Travis says.
While Travis found the Ram’s exterior to be pretty appealing overall, there were some minor changes he wanted to make. With no urge to have a high-maintenance, high-dollar paintjob on a family driver, he contacted his good friends at Mykals Custom Autobody to carry out those tasks. They started by shaving off a few eyesores, such as the bulky antenna mount, and then moved onto shaving the body lines so they would be flush. After that was complete, Mykals rounded the stock weld into the front fender lip for considerably more strength. Before the Dodge would leave the shop, the crew took the time to paint-correct the entire body of truck from front to rear, removing any imperfections, because we all know how black paint can be. The raised bed floor was then coated with Line-X to keep it durable for any luggage storage or hauling it may need to do.
As a classy fella, Travis had no urge to drive a truck with a cloth interior, but due to the theme of the project, there was no need to go overboard with how he replaced it. Switching the standard cloth seats over to the Ram Sport black leather package was exactly the right amount of comfort and durability the cab’s interior needed. With that, the Ram was ready to hit the road. Travis wants to take a second to give thanks to his family and friends for always putting up with the constant projects he gets himself into. Also, a special thanks to Eric at Little Shop MFG for the amazing work on the custom brakes and Mykals Custom Autobody for their hard work. Now we’re just waiting for Twigg to get back on that Tahoe!