Ken Long is a Jeep guy. Well, he was a Jeep guy until he simply got tired of wheeling his Jeep. For many of you fresh Jeepers, being tired of wheeling your beloved 4x4 might sound absurd, but we completely understand where Ken is coming from. You see, Ken wheeled a CJ. And while that open-top, bare-bones machine was a blast for years, as he got a little older, the lack of refinement began to wear on the veteran wheeler.
So when Ken ran across a totaled-out '06 Dodge Dakota he took one good look at the damaged quad cab and decided that it would be the perfect transition from his rough-and-tumble Jeep. Since there was virtually no aftermarket for the late-model Dakota, Ken spent many long nights with the grinder and welder cutting and crafting custom parts. To save money, Ken also took quite a few trips to the local junkyards, scavenging the best parts he could get his hands on.
After many months of hard work Ken was finally ready to hit the trail, and he decided what better place to test his big red wheeler than in the red rock state of Utah? With his truck loaded full of gear, Ken made the long trek out from Missouri and showed up in Moab just in time for the annual Easter Jeep Safari. We had the chance to wheel a few trails with the friendly Beaufort native, and although you can't hose out the Dakota's interior quite as easily as the old CJ, the cozy cab and off-road performance more than make up for the extra cleaning time.
2006 Dodge Dakota
Engine: 4.7L V-8
Transfer case: NP231D
Front Axle: High-pinion Dana 60 front, ARB Air Locker, 4.88 gears
Rear Axle: Dana 60 rear, ARB Air Locker, 4.88 gears
Springs & Such: Custom solid-axle conversion with front and rear radius long arms and coils, TeraFlex flex joints, Rancho shocks
Tires & Wheels: 38x14.50 BFG KM2s on 17x10 Allied Racing Rock-a-Thon beadlocks
Other Stuff: Tom Wood's drivelines, Warn XDI9000 winch, custom bumpers and sliders
Up front the original independent suspension was plucked out and a custom coil-spring and
To split up the power between the Dana axles, an NP231D was set in place. Though the trans
Under the hood of the big Mopar rests the factory 4.7L engine. While Ken chose to keep the
Taking a page from the late-model Ram 1500 playbook, Ken found that a coil-sprung rear sus