Elvis had it right. You can do any­thing— but stay off of my blue suede shoes.

Ultimate Diesel Builder's Guide - - New Products -

That’s how Matt Archule­ton feels about his sim­i­larly col­ored 2014 Ram 2500. He’s al­ready been through all sorts of ve­hi­cles in his life over the last 18 years or so, start­ing out as a young teenager work­ing on lowrid­ers, then mov­ing up (lit­er­ally) to a string of Ford trucks. Along the way he picked up a knack for tools, and now works as a rep for Mac, driv­ing one of those vans chock full of ev­ery­thing a me­chanic could ever wish for.

So when it came time to build his next truck, Archule­ton knew he wanted to go up rather than down. “I like ’em all,” he says, re­fer­ring to his shift from lowrid­ers to lifted trucks, “But now I don’t want to worry about get­ting off the drive­way and scrap­ing the chas­sis."

Archule­ton wanted his ride to stand out from the crowd in his na­tive New Mex­ico. Af­ter all, life in the Land of En­chant­ment is not like the big city—piñon trees, turquoise jew­elry, cow­boy duds and green chilies are more the norm. He needed some­thing dif­fer­ent—some­thing big, blue and bo­da­cious.

Archule­ton started out with a Ram 2500, a truck rec­om­mended by his buddy Johnny Ramirez of Fu­sion Bumpers and set to work with help from his friends Chris O’toole, Frank Bazar and Matthew San­til­lanes.

FTS (Full Throt­tle Sus­pen­sion) han­dled the lift; in fact, Archule­ton’s 2014 model was the pro­to­type for a new sus­pen­sion setup. Work­ing with the Ram’s coilover setup is a bit dif­fer­ent than work­ing with other types of truck sus­pen­sions. While the rear uses a sim­ple 6-inch spacer, the front is raised a full 10 inches us­ing cus­tom coils that level out the sus­pen­sion front to rear. James Bearto of FTS says the bow­ing of the coils was a chal­lenge that was over­come by ad­just­ing the pig­tails on the ends. FTS 2.0 reser­voir shocks keep the setup set­tled down on the dips and droops.

FTS also re-clocked the trans­fer case by adding a plate be­tween trans­mis­sion and the case in or­der to ro­tate the pin­ion down­ward on the front driv­e­line, and a drop-down cross­mem­ber for the trans­mis­sion pro­vides more clear­ance for the front drive­shaft. Other mods in­cluded longer sway bar links, a track bar re-lo­cater, and cross­over steer­ing that moves the mount on the pas­sen­ger side from the bot­tom to the top of the knuckle. Last, a dual steer­ing sta­bi­lizer keeps the over­sized tires steady and on track.

To tackle the rough­est stuff those New Mex­ico roads can throw at him, Archule­ton chose BMF 22-inch wheels wrapped with 40x15.50 Toyo Open Coun­try tires. While he has plenty of open coun­try to run on near Al­bu­querque, Archule­ton notes he usu­ally does that in a Po­laris RZR, us­ing the Ram to tow a 24-foot en­closed trailer for the UTV.

For bet­ter pulling power he added S&B’S cold-air in­take and Diamond Eye Per­for­mance’s 4-inch cat-back ex­haust, along with an en­gine tuner, the Edge Juice with At­ti­tude. He keeps it at the more torque-in­duc­ing #2 set­ting (it runs all the way up to #6 and has a “Hot Un­lock” mode for off-high­way use). He figures the torque curve goes as high as 900 lb-ft, not in­clud­ing the gains from the in­take and ex­haust.

While his truck is cer­tainly ca­pa­ble enough for duty in the dirt, he’d rather not scuff up the in­no­va­tive show treat­ment, which in­cludes burly Fu­sion bumpers and an ag­gres­sive front mesh grille from Sta­tus Grilles, which is stud­ded with low-pro­file spikes and a color-matched cen­ter em­blem. There’s also a set of ear-split­ting train horns un­der the rear bumper, with a Vi­air air com­pres­sor tank mounted in the car­peted bed.

As for that sky-blue flat fin­ish on the body, it’s a 3M vinyl wrap ap­plied by 2ONE3 Graph­ics. “I liked that color—it’s sorta ‘in’,” Archule­ton says, com­par­ing it with the sen­su­ous hues seen on big-buck ex­otic cars. Done at the last minute just a month be­fore the truck’s de­but at the 2014 SEMA Show, wrap­ping the truck posed a few chal­lenges. “You have to prep the truck al­most like you're do­ing a whole new paint job,” he notes. In­stead of sand­ing the sur­face, though, the body just needs to be cleaned thor­oughly and all of the trim and ac­ces­sories were re­moved be­fore fit­ting the film.

A vinyl wrap does have its ad­van­tages over paint. No pol­ish or wax needed, for one. Just wash and dry, with Auto Brite prod­ucts be­ing Archule­ton’s pref­er­ence when get­ting ready for shows. (He has to be care­ful not to use any pe­tro­leum-based prod­ucts, as they can leave a shiny fin­ish.) And if a sec­tion gets dam­aged, it can be eas­ily color-matched with a new piece. It’s also less ex­pen­sive than a high-zoot cus­tom spray, and yet that’s ex­actly what some folks think it is at first sight.

“'What kind of paint job is that?' they ask," Archule­ton tells us. “And when I tell ’em it’s a wrap, they ask, ‘What’s that?’”

Archule­ton man­aged to come up with ex­actly what he wanted—a truck that doesn't blend in with the crowd. We love the look of his blue suede Ram, and we're sure peo­ple who see his truck will agree—and will heed Elvis’s ad­vice. UDBG

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