Ryan Abbott’s custom 1956 Dodge Royal Roadster
Ryan Abbott is the eccentric builder, fabricator and owner of Roditall Customs in Carlock, Illinois, and churns out some of the most unique diesel creations we have ever seen. The quirky builder who goes by the name “Rabbott” to friends and family marches to the beat of his own drummer, and it shows in the cars and trucks that come out of the Roditall.com shop. Fortunately for us he uses diesel engines in many of his creations. Another fine example of the awesome craftsmanship and detail that he puts into each of his builds is the 1956 Dodge Royal Roadster he calls “Diesablo”—a combination of Diesel and Diablo.
After rescuing the Dodge as a basket case that was taken apart and destined to be crushed, Abbott went to work to completely transform the car into a totally unique machine. He built it as a concept car on an original chassis he designed and fabricated to give a “Rabbott’s take” on the hot rod. The Diesablo is the first of three new concept hot rods to be completed, the other two being a Ford and a Chevy that we look forward to seeing when they are completed.
Abbott first turned his attention to reworking the Royal body, which was originally a four-door, hard-top sedan, into his vision of a roadster hot rod. The body was cut, welded, pie-sectioned and channeled to get the shape and fitment he wanted. After creating the roadster, he built in some protection in the form of a rock-crawler-inspired roll cage. Of course, Rabbott also had to fabricate a new recessed firewall and smooth the entire body before spraying it liberally with fire-red paint. Throughout the course of the work he reshaped the body into the doorless roadster seen here and created the hot rod-style grille shell up front. To strip off 60 years’ worth of paint, grime and buildup Abbott turned to his friends at J&J Powdercoating in Carlock, Ill., for media blasting, and
then had them handle any powdercoating he required for the build as needed.
To make the bright red paint pop Abbott had his resident brush-master Brandon Lovell lay intricate pinstriped graphics on the grille shell and the tail of the Royal. On the grille, he striped a piston/skull graphic while he painted the Diesablo name in script on the rear of the car around the large single exhaust outlet. Then to make the sides of the car pop he had Peircy Autobody in Carlock, Ill., add vinyl graphics to the side with the Roditall.com logo and a scallop to the tailfin above the rear tires.
After Abbott completed the long list of radical body modifications he went to work finishing the chassis before mating the two together. The chassis is an original design fabricated from scratch using 0.25-inch wall thickness, 2x4-inch boxed steel tubing for a strong foundation to work well with the weight and torque of the Cummins engine he planned to install between the frame rails.
To give the Diesablo the ability to sit low while on display at shows and events, yet rise to a comfortable height to cruise down the road between events, Abbott opted to go with an air suspension system. The front uses the popular Mustang II spindles and such with tubular control arms and a set of 2,500-pound Airlift Dominator air springs. Steering is handled by a rack-andpinion setup to provide good driver feedback and precise handling for the custom hot rod. In the rear, he built a reverse-triangulated four-link with 2,600-pound Airlift Dominator air springs to locate and place the 1995 Dodge one-ton rear axle and 3.55 gears stuffed under the chassis. Running the link arms toward the rear of the car allowed him to have more interior room in the car and mount the seats lower, minimizing how much the body needed to be channeled to keep the interior comfortable while allowing the car to be laid on the ground when the suspension is aired down. Air pressure is controlled and monitored with a gauge and switches mounted in the dash.
For handling and good looks the Diesablo rides on a staggered wheel fitment with 20-inchers up front and 22s in the rear. The front split 8-spoke Ballistic Off Road Jester wheels are five-lug to work with the Mustang II spindles, while the rears are eight-lug for the Dodge axle. Toyo Proxes S/T tires are used on all four corners to grip the road, 275/45R20s up front and 285/45R22s in the rear.
With the chassis dialed in and waiting, it was time for Abbott to drop the new heart into the Diesablo beast. That heart turned out to be a Cummins 12-valve from a 1995 Dodge truck. The Cummins is detailed to match the red-and-black theme of the car and enhanced with fuel pump and AFC mods as well as some injection pump tweaks for additional flow and rpm. He estimates the engine makes around 450 horsepower and over 600 lb-ft of torque, which is more than enough to get the relatively lightweight roadster moving down the road with authority.
The Cummins engine is backed with a Dodge 47RE transmission that links to the rear axle with a custom 16-inch driveshaft by Heritage Machine and Welding in Bloomington, Ill. Gear selection is handled through a long T-handle B&M shifter, while overdrive and lockup are activated by switches.
To finish off the project Abbott completed the interior, reworking the metal dash by narrowing and sectioning it to fit the new dimensions he created with the heavily modified body. The floor is coated in red Monstaliner DIY bedliner material rather than carpet. He also installed black vinyl low-back bucket seats for a comfortable ride and upholstered the door cards in red alligator patterned vinyl to complete the look. To help keep him entertained while cruising in Diesablo he installed an Alpine five-channel amplifier with an input for his smart phone or MP3 player as an audio source. The amp powers a pair of 10-inch subs as well as a pair of 6x9s in custom enclosures behind the seats.
Rabbott successfully repurposed a 60-yearold car, creating the Diesablo roadster that turns heads everywhere he takes it. While some purists may balk at cutting up a vintage car like this Dodge Royal—remember that it was headed to the crusher, so he gave it a new life as a roadster rather than allowing it to be destroyed and lost forever. If you get a chance to check out the Diesablo at a show or event be sure to take the time to do it and tell Rabbott we said hi while you’re at it. We’re sure you’ll enjoy checking out the car and chatting with its creator. They are both characters in their own right. UDBG
With custom suspension and a fabricated grille shell the Diesablo is a truly unique roadster.
Brandon Lovell laid down the old school pinstripes on the grille shell. The radiator, electric fan and battery are contained within the confines of the grille shell.
Abbott installed a ’95 Cummins between his custom frame rails to repower the 60-year-old car. Due to space constraints he opted to forgo an intercooler, but rather than disrupt the sight lines on the top of the engine he routed the compressed charge under the engine to the intake manifold.
Diesablo is without a doubt a great-looking roadster complete with huge tires and a low-slung stance that are sure to turn heads.
Looking more closely at the front of the car you can see the custom chassis he built as well as the massive 20-inch Ballistic wheel and Toyo tire combination.
The driver side of the engine is clean too, the red and black theme of the car being carried throughout the build with powdercoated components.
The dash looks factory thanks to some excellent metal fabrication work and resizing by Abbott. Keeping the budget low and repurposing parts from other cars, he used a tilt steering column from a GM vehicle to work in the Dodge.
The rear of the roadster is dominated by the large center-exit exhaust tip and Diesablo script laid on by Lovell. It is an intimidating view that screams fun with big tires, big exhaust, a polished fuel cell and a roll bar.
Ryan Abbott has no qualms about putting the cars he builds through their paces showing the true spirit of a hot rod gearhead.
To say that Diesablo underwent a major transformation would be a serious understatement. This was the Dodge Royal after Abbott picked it up!
As expected, this slick roadster looks good from any angle.