Mad About Mopar typography
Justin Reed’s HEMI-Powered ’89 Dodge Ram D150
Mad About Mopar typography

Justin Reed’s HEMI-Powered ’89 Dodge Ram D150

BY Fuelish Media

ave you ever wondered why there aren’t nearly as many Dodge trucks out at shows as there are Chevy and Ford pickups? Those of you who have are most likely Mopar fans because the vast majority of showgoers probably don’t even stop to think about the misrepresentation of Dodge badges at these events. The fact of the matter is that there aren’t enough of these trucks being built and customized for show and performance sake. Frankly, there are far less Dodge enthusiasts out there. Also, the aftermarket just isn’t as supportive as it is with the automaker’s counterparts, which makes it that much harder to build one. It’s just the way things are but when there is a badass Dodge truck lurking in the shadows, you had better believe we’ll be there to document its presence.

close view of the ’89 Dodge Ram D150's truck bed

“I am a Dodge lover, and I’ve been wanting to build a pro touring–style truck for the longest time,” Justin Reed of Whitesboro, Texas, says. “No one builds Dodge trucks, and that gave me the perfect excuse to go out and create something that was a little different from the norm.”

Justin soon began his search for an ideal project pickup, which he found in this ’89 Ram D150. He began the inquiry and negotiation process with the previous owner and landed on a deal that would allow him to haul the truck out from under the carport where it had been parked for the last five years. “So, I am now the third owner of this truck,” Justin adds. “It had been a farm truck all of its life, was not in running condition, which is why it was parked for so long. The upside was it only having 72,000 original miles on the stock 318 engine, and that it was a very clean, rust-free Texas truck. That’s all I know about the truck’s past, but it was enough info for me to build on.”

Well, the Ram’s factory engine didn’t last for long once Justin got it back up and running. He was fine with it, actually. The way he saw it, this was just an opportunity to do something he’d already given some thought to—a HEMI swap. “My buddy has a ’79 Cordoba that he did a HEMI swap on already, so he knew how to do it. So we bought a ’16 HEMI motor with an eight-speed transmission from a wrecked truck, then ordered other things over the next six months before we started on the build. Last summer we spent the weekends and some occasional weeknights wrenching to whip the truck back into shape.”

close view of the ’89 Dodge Ram D150's truck bed
driver's side interior view of the ’89 Dodge Ram D150 featuring vibrant red leather seating and lining
Holley motor mounts and a transmission crossmember helped make the engine swap a smooth success. From there, a few additions in the way of an engine harness from Hotwire, a K&N air cleaner, a Corsa exhaust from an SRT8 Dodge Charger and dual electric fans were made to get the HEMI up and roaring with style and ultra-reliable performance.

Next, Justin recruited Josh Norris of Grey Bush Hotrods to assist with the chassis overhaul, which would soon leave the Ram’s stance much lower and agile. “Josh is a great friend, and while he doesn’t have an actual official business yet, he can get a lot done out of his four-car garage,” Justin admits. “He is the oldest in our group, so we call him Grey Bush. I came up with his shop name, which he actually kind of likes, so we are running with it.”

While the Dodge was in the shop, the guys installed a set of custom upper arms that were fabricated by Brandon LS Fruth, along with a set of modified lowers from a Dodge Ram van. The rear of the frame was C-notched and was then outfitted with a custom torque arm bar and axle flip to lower the suspension substantially. A set of 14-inch R1 Concepts drilled-and-slotted brakes were then added to the front end while the stock rear braking system was left in place. The 20×8.5 and 20×10 Coys C44 wheels wrapped in Nitto NT555 G2 rubber were then mated and bolted into position to finish up the truck’s chassis setup.

passenger side interior view of the ’89 Dodge Ram D150
view of the ’89 Dodge Ram D150's open driver side door featuring vibrant red lining
close view of the speedometer and other gauges behind the ’89 Dodge Ram D150's steering
3/4ths driver's side view of the ’89 Dodge Ram D150 riding down a highway
3/4ths passenger side view of the ’89 Dodge Ram D150
full view of the ’89 Dodge Ram D150 engine
While Justin does have plans to paint his Dodge, he has decided to put it off for the time being but has made some big upgrades to the exterior thus far. What he has done is pull the factory body moldings off and painted the stock bumpers, grille, mirrors, and door handles a satin gray color to contrast the truck’s existing stock white paint. BW Customs and Automotive in Whitewright, Texas, was called on to create the one-off tailgate decals and powdercoated doorsills that would soon adorn the interior. The inside of the bed was treated to a Raptor Liner finish and the engine bay has been sanded and painted to match the bumpers. Even though this might not be what the final version of the truck will look like, it’s a pretty damn good start.

The inner cab space was fully decked out, however, with a killer red vinyl–covered bench seat, cab panels, dash, and 14-inch Billet Specialties steering wheel in order to completely transform the interior landscape. Dakota Digital VHX gauges, Sublime Technologies adapters to run the A/C, Memphis Audio speakers, custom LED lighting, and various accessories were also pieced together to give the cab space a well-appointed look and feel that may be good enough to withstand any restyling phases that could be in this truck’s future.

Before he knew it, Justin had a running, driving, fully customized Dodge truck that he felt was ready to show and put to the test. “We finished up on it the day before the 2023 LST show and decided to drive it 250 miles to get there,” he says. “Aside from running out of gas along the way due to the gauge reading not being exact, the truck performed great. We still want to install a four-link, add a Hellcat blower, and maybe change up the wheels and some other things, but I just want to enjoy it as-is for the rest of this year. Thank you to my uncle Randall and my buddy Coley Vale for helping out with the project.”

full view of the ’89 Dodge Ram D150 engine