Thanks to their multifaceted nature, pickup trucks are more customizable than most vehicles, which makes them a popular fixture at SEMA, the nation's largest auto aftermarket expo. New-generation models are a particularly enticing blank canvas, a fact that Fiat Chrysler Automobiles is poised to take advantage of in Las Vegas with its all-new.
The aftermarket is a big deal for the automaker -- according to Steve Beahm, the freshly minted head of FCA's Mopar parts and services division, new cars and trucks fitted with added accessories sell 10 percent quicker on average at the company's dealers than bone-stock models. Mopar is keen to improve that figure and capitalize on the $100 billion spent on vehicle accessories and customization in North America every year. "We just want our piece of that pie," Beahm told Roadshow at a media background event at its Auburn Hills headquarters ahead of the show.
As the Ram 1500 is FCA's chief profit center, it's unsurprising that the company is particularly keen to show off the customizing potential of its new rig at country's biggest car accessory show. The automaker is thus presenting two very different visions for its all-new full-size, with show trucks that take the new 1500 in different directions -- literally. As Joe Dehner, head of Ram exterior design puts it, these are the company's "evil twins."
The Ram 1500 Low Down started life as a 2019 Big Horn, traditionally the truck's highest-volume trim. As its name suggests, the Low Down hunkers closer to terra firma thanks to a prototype two-inch drop kit. As far as custom trucks go, it's not a particularly radical one, which is by design — it shows what off-the-shelf parts can do for the look and capability of the new truck.
As such, there are 22-inch factory alloys in a new painted finish, as well as off-the-shelf Mopar wheel flares, a production slicktop hard tonneau covering a spray-in bedliner, and a set of five-inch gloss-black exhaust tips. The biggest visual departure — aside from the custom two-tone paint bisected by a pinstripe done in Brass Monkey matte bronze — is the slotted power-bulge hood. This hood is technically a concept part, but it sounds likely for production.
The interior gets a few modest touches, including billet aluminum pedals, sill plates and so on.
The LowDown's changes are almost exclusively cosmetic -- performance parts are limited to a new cold-air intake that's headed for production, and… not much else. Paint aside, this is a truck that could quite easily be built piecemeal by an everyday truck owner.
While Mopar's first SEMA entry takes the low road, this one takes the high road -- if it sticks to pavement at all. The off-road-minded show truck goes two inches in the other direction: skyward. Based on the 2019 Ram 1500 Rebel, the unimaginatively named Mopar Modified Ram 1500 Rebel Concept features a two-inch lift, as well as the same concept hood (albeit with matte-painted center section and different badging). That paint, if you're wondering, is a custom shade called Rebel Smoke.
Other changes include 18-inch production beadlock wheels wrapped in 35-inch Goodyear Wrangler rubber, cast aluminum running boards, and new Rebel graphics that are production-bound. Aside from its added ground clearance, the Mopar Modified Ram 1500 Rebel's most noticeable feature is its Ram Bar-branded sport bar with integrated in-bed spare-tire carrier and auxiliary five-inch LED lighting. "It's the 1980s all over again," says Deignor.
Inside, Ram has executed another light touch, including surface add-ons like concept billet pedals, painted trim, sill guards, a wireless charger and other accessories.
No doubt more comprehensively modded 2019 Ram 1500 pickups will be found at SEMA, which kicks off on October 30. However, these two modified rides -- just two of the 14 that FCA will have at SEMA -- show off a good amount of what's possible largely just by thumbing through the company's Mopar accessory catalog.
Us? We're looking forward to seeing what sort of more extreme trucks lurk around SEMA's halls -- Ram 1500s and otherwise.