Dodge RAM, one of the most iconic trucks in the history of Pickup trucks had humble beginnings and throughout its life, it fought the battle of sales with Ford’s F-Series. Whenever Dodge Ram picked up sales, it was because of it’s design and looks which always contributed towards it’s manliness appeal. Keeping that in mind, here is a brief history of Dodge Ram’s design history divided in two parts:
As of 2010, it has been sold under the Ram Truck brand. Previously, Ram was part of the Dodge lineup of light trucks. The name Ram was first used in 1981 on the redesigned Ram and Power Ram following the retiring and rebadging of the Dodge D Series pickup trucks as well as B-series vans. The truck is named for the Ram hood ornament that first appeared on Dodge vehicles in 1933. The Ram Truck is in its fourth generation as of the 2009 model year.
The first-generation Ram trucks & vans introduced in 1981 were named for the Ram hood ornament that first appeared on Dodge vehicles in 1933. The new model introduced larger wraparound tail lamps, single rectangular headlamps, and squared-off body lines. The interior was updated and included a newer style bench seat, and a completely new dashboard and instrument cluster, with a three pod design – a speedometer in the center, with the two side pods containing an ammeter on the top left, a temperature gauge bottom left, a fuel gauge on the top right and an oil pressure gauge bottom right.
1981 Dodge Ram Pickup
1983 D150 Ram
1984 Dodge Ram – Base D100 models were added for 1984, replacing the previous “Miser” trim level available on the D150.
1986 Dodge Ram – 1986 was the first year for a new crossbar grille and slight front end styling changes.
1991 Dodge Ram – The Ram 100 model designation was dropped and these models folded back into the “150″ range for 1990 due to the introduction and sales success of the Dodge Dakota pickup. Additionally, the interior had been given few updates since 1981. The grille was redesigned for 1991 but kept the large rectangular headlamps and crossbar appearance.
1994 Dodge Ram – The Ram line was redesigned for 1994 and was an instant hit. It featured a semi truck-look front end with separate fenders and an oversized grille; but it was the 8.0 L V10 engine and its 450 ft.lbf (610 Nm) of torque that was noticed by serious users. Models were now the 1500 (half-ton), 2500 (¾-ton), and 3500 (one-ton).
The redesigned 1994 Ram was a tremendous sales success, with sales rocketing from 100,000 units in 1993 to 240,000 in 1994, 280,000 in 1995, and nearly 400,000 in 1996. Sales of this generation peaked at just over 400,000 in 1999 before declining against the redesigned Ford and GM trucks, which utilized some of the Ram’s design elements. By 2001, the Ram was back to 350,000 sales.
1996 Dodge Ram VTS Concept – This concept from Dodge was meant to be a design study highly inspired by Viper GTS-inspired bumpers, mirrors, 17-inch wheels, Blue Paint, dual white stripes and Viper GTS sourced 415bhp V10. VTS was vital in the development of 500bhp Ram SRT10 that Chrysler built from 2004 to 2006.
1996 Dodge Ram – A natural gas version of the 5.2 L engine debuted for 1995. In 1998, Dodge introduced the “Quad-Cab”, which used rear-hinged pillarless doors in the back for a wide cab opening. The Cummins ISB engine, introduced in 1999, was an unusual multi-valve pushrod engine.
1996 Dodge Ram 3500 –
1997 Dodge Ram – In 1996, RAM was prominently featured as the hero vehicle in the film Twister. Sales of this generation peaked at just over 400,000 in 1999 before declining against the redesigned Ford and GM trucks. By 2001, Ram sales figures were below those of Ford and Chevy trucks.
1997 Dodge Ram T-Rex Concept – Dodge T-Rex is a concept vehicle which was produced by Dodge in 1997 and based on the Dodge Ram. It had three axles and Six-wheel drive. Read about it here in detail.
1998 Dodge Ram Quad Cab – In 1998, Dodge introduced the “Quad Cab”, which used smaller suicide doors in the back for a door opening. This was offered as an option on the “Club Cab” for the model year. Other changes for 1998 included rounded mirrors replacing the classic square ones, a revised interior, dual airbags, a chime replacing the buzzer for seat belts/door ajar/headlights/ and a digital odometer. The OBD II System was also standard, with a computer port near the driver’s-side footwell and a code-checking system via the new digital odometer readout.
2000 Dodge Ram 1500 Off-Road – 2000 models began optioning heated leather seats. The braking system was upgraded with all wheel disc brakes, and 2 piston calipers in the front. An Offroad Edition was offered as a package with a 2 inch lift accomplished with stiffer front springs and rear lift blocks, unique 17×8 rims, 275/70/17 all terrain tires, 4.10 gears, trussed Dana 44 in the front, limited slip differential, and skid plates. Offroad Edition models are also distinguishable with an additional decal on the tailgate under the 4×4 decal that says “Offroad.”
2001 Dodge Ram – Although Dodge introduced a new Ram 1500 for 2002, the old second generation style Ram was carried over for the 2002 model year heavy-duty 2500 and 3500 trucks. The new third generation Ram would not appear in the 2500/3500 variants until 2002 as 2003 models. Part of this delay was due to the then new 5.7 L Hemi engine not being ready for production.
2002 Dodge Ram – The third-generation Ram debuted for 2002. This represented a major update including all new frame, suspension, power teams, interiors, and sheetmetal. It included an even larger grille, and special models kept interest up as most competitors had adopted the Ram’s separate-fender look. The Cummins ISB Diesel was on the Ward’s 10 Best Engines list for 2004. The four wheel drive light duty trucks (1500 series) lost their live axles in trade for an independent front suspension, but the heavy duty (2500 and 3500 series) retained the live axles for maximum durability and load capacity.
2002 Dodge Ram NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series
2002 Dodge Ram SRT10 – This version is a regular or quad-cab body with the Dodge Viper’s V10 engine, massive Pirelli 22″ rimmed tires, custom lowered suspension, unique bucket seats, full body kit, and a spoiler. The 2004 version was available only in a single cab with a 6 speed manual transmission with a Hurst shifter. For 2005, Dodge debuted a Quad Cab version of the Viper V10 powered truck. It now has a 48RE four speed auto transmission that was taken from the Heavy Duty Rams with the Cummins engine. In 2004, the truck won the Guinness record of “World’s Fastest Production Pickup Truck” of 154.587mph (247,3 km/h). This record stood until bettered by the Australian, El Camino-inspired, Holden Special Vehicles Maloo R8 in May 2006. SRT-10 production ended on June 30, 2006. It is rumored that the SRT-10 will eventually be replaced by an SRT-8 model featuring a larger displacement Hemi-powered V8.
2003 Dodge Ram – The redesigned DR trucks reignited sales, with 400,000 sold in 2002 and nearly 450,000 sold in 2003, a new high point for the Ram name. At the same time, both Ford and GM trucks were declining from a 2001 peak over 900,000 to the 850,000 area. But the Ram’s sales could not keep up with the eleventh-generation F-150 and the strong Nissan Titan in 2004 and 2005, with 400,543 Rams sold that year. The Toyota Tundra had never posed much of a threat, but a much larger 2007 model may erode Dodge sales further.
2003 Dodge Ram 1500 with Optional HEMI Power
2004 Dodge Ram
Continued in History of Dodge Ram trucks Part 2 (1944)
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