Words: KRISTIE REAL
Photos: DALE MARTIN | @DMARTY78
The best thing about being one of the go-to people for hot builds is that your personal projects are always phenomenal. The downside is that your schedule is always jam-packed, managing builds for others that there’s minimal time to really focus on your own. This year alone, Cris Payne, aka Truck Guru, had 52 builds at SEMA 2022, meaning that business is better than ever. Appreciative of the support he’s gotten over the years and thankful for a chance to work with the industry’s best, he was able to fit in some personal projects in between his busy schedule.
And by projects, we mean three vehicles with the same theme, making a trio of badass rigs and rides like no other. “I wanted a build something that was a triple threat combo for street/offroad/water… Hence the name Armageddon for the truck,” he describes. “I always push the envelope of a dream build and then bring it to life! We have been stacking things on builds at SEMA for as long as I have been doing this, so it’s kinda our thing or what I call the ‘Truck Guru signature style.’”
With a personal feeling that Fords are usually overdone at SEMA (“just laced up with different wheels and candy-colored suspension,” he confesses), Cris went with a Ram Mega Cab platform for a different feel. “Since I had recently done a GM, I felt a Ram would be a good base,” he says. “I also thought the interior was next level and the fact that the Cummins platform is king when it comes to towing. I tow my boat a lot, and it’s not a lightweight one, either. I needed something to get me to the lake with ease.”
But just because it has the capability Cris needed for his lake life vibes, it still needed to look the part of a customizer’s daily driver. He spared no expense on dressing Armageddon up to look as good as his customers’ builds and went all out on mods and accessories that fit his vision. For Cris, a theme is always central to the build, and when he has one, color options are next before choosing what parts are suitable to complete the creation.
“Mods are never easy because I always have so many great and willing partners that it is often difficult to decide who gets to be a part of my builds and who sits on the sideline. That is the most difficult thing about designing and conceptualizing these one-off builds that you know will get lots of ROI!”
Since he ordered a brand new Supra Boat to match, the green color was his first decision, with the rest falling into place when he knew it would be a triple-piece build.
Fab Fours was a massive part of the build and drastically changed the look of the stock truck and created room to help him fit massive 42” tires on an 8” lift. KM Metal Works came in clutch with the one-off suspension that is fully bolt-on, durable yet functional, with 4-corner coilovers and air in the rear.
“Interco was the tire partner for the builds as well, and the Boggers looks so mean it’s hard to think there might have been another option. Mammoth Decks allowed us to smoothly and safely load and carry the one-off custom Smart car built by my good friend Ryan from Fab_Lab. On the Smart, Ryan and I got carried away. We just kept adding things to the build, and the car speaks for itself with how unique it is and how it looks and functions!
For performance, upgrades include a few Banks products, including their cat-back exhaust, cold air intake, Pedal Monster and rear differential cover. Lighting showcases Quake LED mods, while accessories include AMP steps, a Gen-Y hitch LineX parts, Bolt Locks, and Next Level step mats, to name a few. The interior sports an RFS Motorsports starlight kit and a Kicker sound system done by NTX Audio in Forney, TX.
Cris knew that the result would meet his vision and exceed his expectations, given that he has been doing this for so long that it’s now second nature to him. “I feel like it was one of if not the most posted and talked about the build at the show. It could have been the size, the color, who knows, but it got the play we needed it to.” It was hard for Cris to keep his three-part build a secret, but he surprised all (and even himself). “I saw all three together for the first time at the show. My boat was a custom order and delivered to SEMA.”
Now, the truck is his daily driver and toy hauler as he tries to spend as much time at the lake in his matching boat. The SMART car is like “a sweet garage ornament that I drive on occasion,” Cris details. As for what’s next, it’s a secret. “I’m the kind of guy that likes to keep my builds secret until they debut somewhere. But I make it harder to top myself every year!”
2021 RAM 3500 LIMITED MEGA CAB
• 22” WORX 820 BM wheels