Have you ever looked at the 18-wheelers going down the freeway and thought, “Man, I’d like to have one of those”? We’ve all been there, but few of us have taken the plunge and bought a full-blown Peterbilt or Mack truck. But what if you could have the looks of one while still keeping it streetable?
Ryan Zeller’s 2019 Ram 3500 does just that. The truck, called “White Widow,” is his interpretation of what a semi truck would look like if scaled down. We first caught sight of the truck via Instagram, where Ryan keeps a steady stream of photos of his whited-out Cummins dually.
We reached out to Ryan to find out more about him and his vehicle. In doing so, we learned that his vision for a diesel build was something that gave his rig a unique style.
Background Of The Build
A resident of Vernon, British Columbia, Ryan is an automotive mechanic by trade. His passion for diesels started in 2016 after he finished studying heavy duty machinery in a trade school. “After I finished studying and working on heavy duty mechanics, I left the gas world behind,” he said. “No more small-block Chevys for me!”
For his first diesel, Ryan bought a 2001 Chevy HD. “It had the LB7 Duramax in it,” he said. “I did a rebuild on it, sold it, and decided I wanted something newer, so I went and got a 2016 Duramax. That one had an LML in it.”
Ryan’s appreciation for Bowties faded, however. “I did the work on the truck, deleting the emissions stuff and tuning the engine,” he explained. “But after the transmission started acting up, I took it in for service and was treated poorly by Chevy. I figured it was time to make the switch to another brand.”
Ryan gave Ford a shot, but he didn’t like it. “I didn’t like how they drove stock,” he said. “The ride quality was not great. The aluminum cab on a steel frame just felt loose or something. I heard they rode better with coilover shocks, but I didn’t want to pay all that money right out of the gate to have better ride quality. So Ram was what I ended up with.”
Ryan bought his Ram 3500 dually in mid-2019 and immediately liked it. That was until he saw a clone driving around town and realized he wanted something unique for himself. “After I saw the same truck as mine in town, I wanted to change mine up,” he said. And thus the build began.
As his first order of business, Ryan upgraded the stance of White Widow. “I bought a four-inch BDS Suspension lift kit, some mud flaps from Trigger Industries, and Fuel Triton wheels with Fuel Off-Road Gripper M/Ts,” he said. “That was the start of it all.”
After taking care of these essentials, Ryan got the exterior the way he wanted it. “I wanted the chrome covered up,” he said. “The truck had to be completely white. So I went and got it wrapped in a color-matching vinyl wrap from IQ Film here in Vernon. The guys there did an amazing job. They also did a ceramic coating on top of it to keep it protected. Practically all I need to do to keep it clean is just hose it off!”
From there, Ryan made the change to the lower part of the truck with its distinguished valance lighting. “It took me all of one morning to get everything in there,” he said. “I measured the holes in the air dam and then drilled them out. Then I installed nine lights into the air dam and ran them off of the DRL signal that went to the headlights. I was really happy with how they turned out.”
Just like that, Ryan was well on his way to cloning a half-sized 18-wheeler into his Cummins dually. Nighttime photos of the truck really do justice to Ryan’s handiwork and the amount of time and effort he put into this modification. But the valance lights weren’t the only modification he did to the exterior.
In the bed, Ryan crafted and installed his own custom-built dual stack exhausts, adding one more dimension of 18-wheeler-ness to White Widow. “That took a weekend to get done,” he explained. “I have a metal bender at my house that I fed sheet metal through, and I shaped the stacks into octagons. Then I welded them up and had them powder coated white to match the rest of the truck.” In between the stacks, he installed a headache rack and rigged up large Pro Comp HID lights to shine out ahead at night.
With the looks department taken care of, White Widow was now a sight to see. But what about its driving characteristics? In that department, Ryan opted to stay stock with the 6.7-liter Cummins inline-six and six-speed automatic transmission. He also left the axles alone with their 4.10:1 gear ratio. What he did do, however, was modify the tuning and delete the EGR system.
“I wanted the truck to run better, and I found the stock tune and EGR system got in the way of that,” explained Ryan. “So I had AM Diesel Performance retune the truck. They added another 50 horsepower to the engine. Then I had the EGR system deleted so the truck could breathe better.”
With these mild upgrades to the engine, Ryan is pleased with how White Widow drives now, but he knows he can always go bigger. “At some point I want to try out a different turbo compressor wheel,” he said. “Fueling is also something I’d like to try. Maybe an upgraded CP4 and a FASS kit. And it couldn’t hurt to get a cold air intake kit as well.”
Inside, Ryan has grown accustomed to the Longhorn trim it came with and has no plans to change it. “It’s comfortable and plush, just the way I like it,” he commented. “About the only thing it needs is extra subwoofer for the sound system. Other than that, it’s perfect the way it is.”
The Dually That Turns Heads
What was it that motivated Ryan to finish White Widow? He’ll tell you it was the “point of no return.” “Once I put those initial modifications in and deleted the EGR, there was no going back,” he said. “I knew I couldn’t get money back out of it, so I had to keep going.”
Ryan’s dedication to his build has paid off. What began as an everyday dually is now an unmistakably custom truck that’s his pride and joy, not to mention the talk of the town. “It gets a lot of looks when I take it out for a drive,” he said. “It’s gotten a lot of reactions from my family and friends, too. The family thinks I’ve gone overboard, but my friends think it’s awesome!”
With the way White Widow is set up, Ryan has just one or two things he wishes he could change. “I would change the lift if I had a time machine,” he commented. “I’d like it taller than it is now. I think Kelderman would be the way to go. It might still be an option down the road.”
Whatever way Ryan decides to go, he’s got a solid truck in White Widow. Be sure to follow him on Instagram to see more of the truck, and let us know if you have a badass diesel you’d like us to feature here on Diesel Army.
Photography by Ryan Zeller