Monogram 1/24 Dodge Ram VTS

The Dodge division of Chrysler has always been known for wild outrageous automobiles. In 1992 Dodge started production of the wildest yet: the Dodge Viper RT/10. Some time around 1995 someone at Dodge decided to stuff a Viper engine into a Ram pick-up and the Ram VTS concept truck was born. For reasons unknown to me, the truck was not put into production at that time. The world would have to wait until 2003 for it to become reality as the Ram SRT.

Being a Dodge technician and a Viper tech as well, I was immediately in love with the Ram VTS. I purchased the Monogram kit as soon as it was available at my local hobby shop. I tossed it on my "to do" pile and went on with life. Fast-forward a couple of years, a friend of mine was building a street rod by putting the running gear of an AMT 1/24 RT/10 under an old Lincoln of some kind. He was gonna throw the body away so I took it. I figured I could find some use for it. That night as I walked past my "to do" pile I noticed the Ram VTS. *CLICK* I thought to myself if its got a Viper engine, it should have a Viper nose! And so it begins.

The Kit

Upon opening the box you notice a typical Monogram kit.Molded in white plastic with vinyl tires and a small fret of chrome parts. One thing I want to point out: Ignore the painting call outs for the Viper engine. The only black Viper engines were the cast iron prototypes, ALL production Vipers have the Lambo designed engines. The production engines have unpainted aluminum blocks and heads, the valve covers and intake are red with silver details. Even the box photos show it red!

The Conversion

Truck Cab

Begin by cutting the body apart at the front door edge. Remove everything forward of the door lines. Be very careful when doing this, as the body will be very susceptible to damage as the front portion is removed. Do NOT throw the parts away yet! Leave a small portion of the fender opening just below the body side molding. Test fit the body to the chassis. When you are satisfied that everything looks ok, fill the bodyline just below the rearview mirrors. Follow the curve of the body to get a nice smooth surface. Set the cab aside.

Viper Hood

The conversion of the Viper hood is much more complicated then the truck cab. You will have to cut and section the hood in order to get it to fit. I like the look of the Viper nose and chose to leave the front fascia the normal size and rework the hood to fit between the fascia and truck cab. Cut the Viper hood down the center. Use some tape to hold the hood on the front fascia. Place the hood up to the truck cab and spread the hood until it meets the corners of the cab at the "A" pillars. Tape the hood in this spread open position. Carefully remove the hood and lay it bottom side up on your workbench. Glue the 3 parts of the hood together and allow them to dry THROUGHLY! Use whatever method works best for you and fill in the resulting gaps in the hood. I backed it with plastic sheet and filled the inside, but do whatever works for you. Take notice of the hood contours as you sand.

Get the frame, interior bucket and the modified truck body, assemble and tape them together. At this point you will have to shave the sides of the wheel wells on the truck frame and the lower splash pan to match the Viper hood. By the process of test fitting and shaving/sanding, remove portions of the wheel wells and splash pan until the hood fits properly. Next, fill in the wheel openings in the Viper hood with plastic sheet. This next step may be troublesome but it was the best way I could think to do it. Place the modified Viper hood onto the chassis. Once you have it where it goes, tape it in place. CAREFULLY turn the chassis over and mark the new wheel openings. At the same time mark off the small portion left on the front edge of the cab doors. Cut the new wheel openings per your marks. At this point, fill all the seams on the wheel openings and sand smooth. Again, take notice of the contour of the Viper hood when sanding.You may want to experiment with this process as you may find one that works better for you. Next, add a small strip of plastic to the bottom of the Viper nose to close the space between the nose and the ground. I added a ľ inch piece and sanded until it looked right.

The Build

Assemble the kit as per the instructions. I made NO changes to the chassis with the exception of brass tube exhaust tips. Build the interior as per the instructions. After the interior is complete; box in the area in front of the dashboard. This area was covered by the wiper cowl that you removed in the first step. Choice of color is up to the individual, I chose to paintmine a bluish Gray, as this is a popular color for the Ram trucks. Paint the shifter knob white. You will NOT be able to use the headlights that come with the Viper kit. I used clear acetate to fill the openings and just painted them black.

Once you have the chassis assembled, get the part of the truck body you cut off. You will need to remove all the parts molded onto the inside of the fenders. The electrical components can just be glued onto the inner fenders. The battery will need to be shaved to make it look like it sits in a recess in the fender. Fit the Viper hood onto the truck and you are DONE! As you may have noticed in some of the pictures, I have not mounted the Viper hood to the truck yet. All I have there now are a couple of braces to hold it in place. I have not figured out how to make the hood hinges for it yet! The underside of the Viper hood is not complete yet either, I plan to install some insulation on the hood as soon as I figure out how to mount it.I also have to build headlight buckets for it.

Painting

Working in a Dodge dealer has its advantages; I had my truck painted in our body shop! The truck is painted Viper Blue (paint code PBE) and the stripes are Bright White (paint code PW7). I started by painting the truck and Viper hood with gray primer so that the colors would have equal tint and depth. I then painted the both parts Bright White. After it had dried a couple days, I taped off the stripes and had the parts painted Viper Blue. I then removed my tape and clear coated the body. Getting the stripes to conform to the front fascia of the Viper nose is a pain, but well worth the trouble.

Conclusions

Building the basic truck is a piece of cake. I'm sure it would be a fine addition to any model collection.
The conversion of this model has its ups and downs, but it builds into a very unique model. Given patience and a steady hand Iím sure that anyone can do it. This was my first kitbash and I was really happy with the results.