Ryan Ab­bott’s cus­tom 1956 Dodge Royal Road­ster

Ultimate Diesel Builder's Guide - - Contents -

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.

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