What's there to do during the winter in small-town Missouri? Well if you're Ben "Baller" Bland, you drink beer and build minitrucks. If you've ever visited El Dorado Springs, you know there isn't much else to do when snow is on the ground. You may remember Ben's other truck, a '94 Nissan Hardbody that was featured in the November '11 issue of this fine publication. Yep, he still has that one—oh, and he has a killer Suburban that's a showstopper too. Some guys have all the luck.

Ben picked up the Dodge as a candidate for a quick flip, but as many great stories go, that plan went in the completely different direction. Now, Ben has cut on almost every vehicle under the sun, and he had always heard what a nightmare Dakotas are when it comes to making one lay rocker. Needless to say, the rumors didn't scare him off. He just thought to himself "What would my mentor, Jim ‘The Man' Stuart, do?" Well, Jim would just get it done. With Ben's outlook on the build positive as ever, he, along with Scot Casey and Jeremy Henderson, started taking the truck apart down to the frame without a slight hesitation to look back.

After many late nights full of hard work, just as many crazy antics took place, but the truck was just about done. The toughest part of the build was settling on a color to finish the truck off with. Now, if you know Ben at all, you know stories about his creations can't be finished without a bar story. Let's just say a cheaply branded malty beverage and its matching neon sign inspired the paintjob.

The Dakota was finished in under five months—but not without incident. On the final test drive before loading it up and making the trip to Oklahoma for the Kicker Bash, the slave cylinder broke, leaving the clutch engaged, slamming the front end into Ben's brand-new garage door. You can imagine how quickly his heart must've sunk into his stomach, but thankfully no real damage was done to the truck. Like I said before, some guys have all the luck.

Owner: Ben & Jessica Bland
Ride: 2003 Dodge Dakota
Hometown: El Dorado Springs, MO
Club: Negative Camber

The Lowdown

Rolling Attire
Wheels: 20-inch Raceline Stunna
Tires: 225/35R20 Achilles

Chassis Modifications
Suspension (front): 'Bags
Suspension (rear): 'Bags and parallel four-link from Suicidedoors
Control Arms: Airbagit.com
Compressor(s): Two Viair 350
Valves: 1/2-inch Blitzluft
Frame Mods: Z'd the front
Brakes: Cross-drilled and slotted rotors
Performed By: Ben Bland Customs

Body Modifications
Shaved: Handles, roof seams, third brakelight, antenna, taillights, bed rails, and gas door
Bodydrop: Stock-floor
Body Mods: Cali combo, center-mounted license plate box and gas filler placed behind license plate
Bolt-ons: Diamond clear headlights and billet grille
Misc.: Smoothed and painted mirrors, maple wood bed floor with polished aluminum trim
Performed By: Ben Bland Customs

Paint
Brand & Colors: GenTec custom PBR Blue, Lusid Technologies clear
Performed By: Ben Bland Customs

Interior
Seats: Factory buckets covered in gray vinyl and light gray suede
Dash: Smoothed and painted with fiberglass bottoms and suede top
Misc.: AVS PSI gauge, factory trim wrapped in suede and custom center console
Performed By: Ben Bland Customs and Rods and Rides of El Dorado Springs, MO

Stereo
Head Unit: Sony CDX-GT650
Mids & Highs: Two sets of Powerbass 2XL 6-1/2-inch components
Subwoofers: 12-inch Powerbass shallow-mount
Amplifiers: Powerbass 400.2
Misc.: Tsunami wiring, custom door panels, sub and amp boxes
Performed By: Ben Bland Customs

Engine/Performance
Engine: Bone-stock 3.9L V-6
Detail Work: Kinetik 1800, sheetmetal inner fenders, relocated, ABS, fuse box, and computer
Performed By: Ben Bland Customs

Special Thanks From Owner
"66 Auto Color and Lusid Technologies for all the paint materials, Chandler Collins, Snoop, my wife for putting up with another truck build, and especially Scott Casey and Jeremy Henderson for helping all the way from start to finish."