What’s pitch black and prowls the streets with 600 horsepower on tap? Why, it’s gotta be The Batram!
Carl Bullivant has always loved Dodge Rams, from the big square boxes of the 1980s to the modern more refined designs. They’re big, bad and very American. So when it came time for Carl to buy one of his own, it was all or nothing: he set his sights on the limited edition SRT-10 model.
With three V8s already in his driveway, Car wanted something a bit different. The Dodge Viper-sourced V10 engine in the SRT-10 was just the ticket. The aggressive look of the SRT-10 Rams is unique and very Dodge, from the big hood scoop and in-your-face grille, to the performance-inspired bodykit and beefy, all-business front end.
Carl set out to import one direct from the States. Not only do you get to choose what you really want, you also save cash.
The SRT-10 Rams were built from 2004 to 2006. The stock SRT-10 powerplants consisted of an 8.3-litre (505ci) Viper V10 engine pushing 505hp at 5600rpm and 712Nm of torque at 4200rpm, with Tremec T56 six-speed manual transmissions (single-cab only) and 48RE four-speed automatic transmissions (quad-cab only). Dodge made several special edition Rams, including the VCA, Yellow Fever, Commemorative and Night Runner.
The Night Runner was a one year only model (2006). Night Runners came painted in Brilliant Black exterior paint, with Dark Nickel pearl finish, 22-inch wheels, black chrome grille inserts, black centre headlights, Night Runner badges and decals and, among other things, a serialised Night Runner dash.
The Night Runner edition was publicised as “400 built”, but this is incorrect since Chrysler never got around to completing them. Its records show only 79 were built. Carl’s SRT-10 has a plaque that reads “384/400”, and with its main option list it was just one of 28 ever produced. Carl reasoned that if he was going to import a Ram, why not get a limited edition model to make it that much rarer? Although he buys his vehicles for what they are, not how many there are, like many of us, Carl appreciates something a little out of the ordinary. “It’s nice to know there isn’t one around every corner,” he admits.
Now Carl knew that he wanted a Night Runner edition, it was time to set about getting one. Some ‘wanted’ threads were posted on the Viper Truck Club of America website and after a week with no luck, a search on another US forum uncovered what seemed to be a promising lead. Coincidentally, Carl knew the owner through the ’Cuda and Challenger community.
In September 2007, after several days, many emails and some negotiation, a deal was struck. The truck had just 5879 miles on the clock and was mint ” as you would expect for a one-year-old truck.
Before funds were transferred, Carl had the truck professionally inspected. After passing with flying colours, the SRT-10 was trucked from Nebraska to LA for its trip to its new home in Upper Hutt.
When the Night Runner arrived in Wellington, Carl immediately went down to inspect it. He was anxious to see it up close; he had never actually seen one in person and wanted to see just how big they are. They are pretty big: 5.17 metres long, 1.9 metres high and just over two metres wide but they don’t look big. But they’re a nice big, not a big dinosaur, what Carl describes as “chunky”.
Not long after landing, the truck was transported to Eagle Automotive for the right-hand-drive conversion. Just six weeks later it was back, with the steering wheel now on the other side.
Ready For Justice
After driving it in stock form for several months, Carl’s creative juices started to flow and he was itching to create something new, something different, something sinister.
Carl has a passion for that stealth appearance or blacked-out theme. The SRT-10 would be like his other vehicles, past and present, but this time it would have a theme. In deciding a moniker for this beast, the fact it was a Ram, and given Carl’s appetite for stealth, he decided to christen it ‘The Batram’.
While Carl enjoys a good Batman flick, he’s more interested in the Batmobile and gadgets. The Batmobile’s mysterious look and stealthy style are what instilled a love of stealth vehicles in Carl at an early age, and he chose to use that theme as the basis of his Ram. He stresses, however, that he’s only interested in the gadgets and sinister look, not the tights and cape.
The Batram has many custom details, the majority of which consist of themed and subtle black-out work. The biggest modifications were the engine bay overhaul and custom detailing, which converted the interior from grey to all black.
The T56 six-speed was a blast to drive. However, the trans was holding back the truck’s straight-line performance. Regardless of who’s swapping cogs, manual transmissions allied to big power have their limits in terms of shift time, reliability and consistency. Carl believes that for a truck of this size, with this much power, an auto is just as good ” if not better ” for all out speed and driveability.
Ram SRT-10 fans were basically forced into buying a particular transmission and truck style. The quad cabs were all automatic and the regular cabs were all manuals.
“Driving a regular cab auto is a blast,” says Carl. “Regular cab manuals have a hard time with traction, wheel hop, bogging and breakage. The auto removes all these issues except traction, though it’s a lot easier to manage in an auto. Not only is performance improved in a straight line, you get the cool fact of slamming it in ‘D’ and hitting the road and cruising. This is perfect for The Batram, as any self respecting Batmobile should have an auto mode.”
While Carl admits an auto meant he lost a little daily driving and twisting road fun, he believes he gained that back and then some in reliability, straight-line performance, the ease in heavy traffic and consistency in pulling the truck’s best and fastest times anywhere, anytime.
Batman needs Gadgets
The new transmission is a custom built Carl Rossler 4L80E Chev box which is a four-speed automatic, the predecessor to the TH400. Internally, the 4L80E is 80 per cent TH400, so it’s as tough as nails with good racing pedigree.
The 4L80E was built and imported from Ohio, USA. It’s Carl Rossler’s strongest 4L80E version, dubbed ‘The Terminator 4’, and is good for 1600hp-plus. It was chosen after many searches, talking about it with other Viper and Viper truck owners and doing a lot of calling around.
Carl weighed up everything from power per ton, weight and others’ experiences and knowledge, but in the end the decision was easy. While the TF727 is tough, Carl admits it has some internal design faults. Talk to any non-biased transmission builder and they will tell you the same.
Carl says he likes his Torqueflites. He has one in his Challenger R/T, and his project ’Cuda will have one behind a 540 Hemi, but they have their limits. Being a Mopar guy, the only reason to have gone for a TF727 in his situation and build was brand loyalty. But Carl wasn’t about to sacrifice performance, longevity or reliability for a brand name.
A Compushift Control Module is included. It’s an onboard display unit that allows control of all the transmission’s functions from inside the cab, all on the run. It allows Carl to adjust transmission pressure, shift points, shift firmness, torque converter lockup and much more. It also displays important information like rpm, speed, trans temperature, throttle percent, current gear and voltage, to name just a few.
The Batram also has a custom paddle shifter setup using Mercedes AMG paddle shifters.
The Compushift displays the current gear, which in normal mode reads one to four. When the paddles are hit, it changes to sequential mode and the display reads ‘S1’ to ‘S4’.
“The Batram had to have the best in gadgets, so the paddles and transmission setup were a must,” Carl says with a laugh. He admits it’s awesome fun banging through gears in nice twisty terrain. The 4L80E has a custom full manual mode, which is similar to a full manual valve body.
Carl had intended to supercharge The Batram, which was another reason for going auto as it’s stronger and more consistent. However, after some hard running and launches with the new 4L80E installed, he decided a supercharger wasn’t the way to go.
As is, the truck and its estimated 600hp was a new animal, and the kick-down is wicked. Off the line in the dry it hooks well, just. Flooring it at any speed, in anything other than dry road conditions, will see the rear end step out quite violently. Carl explains that adding a supercharger to this truck would be completely pointless. He has always aimed to build The Batram’s power plant to be reliable, fun and safe. It’s one thing having big power but another putting it to the ground.
To Protect And Serve
What’s a Batmobile without its arsenal? The Batram’s ‘defensive’ modifications include a 360-degree camera capable of night vision, a custom talking ‘armed,’ ‘disarmed’ and ‘activated’ voice box with Ed-209’s voice from Robocop; and remote start with more than a kilometre of range. And apparently there’s plenty more to come.
In March 2009, The Batram won the March ‘truck of the month’ on the Viper Truck Club of America forum. In December 2009, The Batram beat America’s finest SRT-10 vehicles by winning the Viper Truck of America’s Truck of the Year. With nearly 6000 members and many trucks, it’s the largest Viper truck club and forum in the world, so this is no small feat.
Now The Batram is finally complete, Carl is absolutely over the moon. It’s one of the best and most fun vehicles Carl has ever had the privilege of driving and it’s not hard to see why.
2006 Dodge Ram SRT-10 — Night Runner Edition – Specifications
Engine: 8.3-litre (505ci) Gen-3 Viper V10, black HPC-coated Billy Boat long tube headers, Billy Boat catless mid pipes, full three-inch Billy Boat exhaust system, cold air induction system, Roe Racing crankcase breather, custom SCT XCalibrator 2 Tuned by Torrie at Unleashed Performance, Roe Racing throttle body, JTS Venom Performance coil packs, Mopar Performance oil filter, satin black engine block; powder-coated gloss black valve covers, intake manifold, alternator, catch can, throttle body, T-clips and plug shields; exhaust and muffler HPC coated, black-coloured firewall hush-mat; custom black painted, coated and covered engine bay and accessories; relocated emissions box, relocated cruise control box, relocated cruise control canister plus wiring to firewall, de-loomed, laser engraved bat logo radiator cover and SRT-10 fuse box cover, custom master cylinder cover, custom window washer and radiator bottles, custom Batman logo dipstick, Lokar transmission dipstick
Driveline: Custom built Carl Rossler 1600hp ‘Terminator 4’ spec 4L80E four-speed automatic, custom SFI adapter plate, Precision Vigilante 10.5-inch multi-disc three-plate lockup converter, HGM Automotive Compushift transmission controller, Hurst Promatic-2 Truck Shifter, Hurst Competition shift knob w/12V switch (controls the Carl Rossler Transbrake aka ‘Ross Lock’), custom AMG Mercedes-equipped paddle shifter, Stroud Kevlar transmission blanket, custom driveshaft, B&M transmission cooler.
Suspension: Custom Stage-3 traction kit with heavy duty sway bar end links, 16-step QA1 adjustable shocks, JTS Venom Performance 1.25-inch front and 2.25-inch rear Lowering kit with 10 percent stiffer front springs and custom industrial rubber spacers
Wheels/tyres: Satin black powder-coated OEM wheels covered by 305/45R22 Continental CrossContact tyres, Bat logo centre caps
Exterior: Fully blacked out and debadged, GTS black headlight covers, smoked tail lights, smoked high stop light, black window monsoons, custom black on black Viper grille emblem, 20 percent side and 10 per cent (x2) rear tints, 3-inch short black billet antenna, black Antech roof antenna, Retro Solutions 6000K 55W bi-Xenon HID headlights and fog lights, custom made fully blacked out headlight housings, Swift Motorsports automated hideaway front license plate
Interior: Full custom Bat themed black interior, custom covered leather seats, seven-inch in-dash double din Pioneer DVD/TV screen, EA400 Eclipse amplifier, replacement OEM kph speedometer/ instrument cluster, The Batram domed door decals, embroidered headrests, glowing ‘engine start’ button, Batman logo steering wheel emblem, Dee Zee EZ lowering tailgate system, black Dodge Ram first aid kit
Performance: Conservatively estimated at 600hp (447kW), 840Nm
Carl Bullivant – Owner Details
Previously owned cars: ’73 ’Cuda, ’71 ’Cuda, plenty of Jeeps and V8s
Dream car: This (why I built it), my Dodge Challenger R/T (Lucy) and our Hemi ’Cuda.
Build time: Two years
Length of ownership: 2.5 years
Carl thanks: “Huge thanks to Mum, Dad, Allanah, Nick and Sebas for letting me babble on and get in your way, Jim from Pennsylvania and Pete from Arizona for their support and help in parts sourcing, Kurt and Chris down at Juniors Kustom Rides for their professionalism and help, Pete and Willy’s Garage in Upper Hutt for the advice and ear, means a lot! The NZ Mopar Registry and Forum and all its members, Phil from Powder Surfaces, and last but not least, The Viper Truck Club of America!”
Words: NZV8 Photos: Slot Media
This article is from NZV8 issue 62, click here to check it out.