This bold and iconic pickup holds a special place in our hearts. Its performance and reliability are so legendary that the Dodge RAM was named Truck of the Year no less than five times by Motor Trend magazine.
It is also one of those pickups that has traditionally gotten more versatile and high-tech with time. When the first Dodge RAM came out in 1981, its squared silhouette and four-wheel drive 'Power Ram' left the original Dodge-D series in the dust. The second generation (1994) impressed car lovers with its large front grille and totally modern dash and gauge cluster. Updates in 1998 included a digital odometer, dual airbags and stylish rounded mirrors; the fourth generation Dodge RAM, which came out in 2008, featured a powerful engine and a state-of-the-art interior.
Dodge and RAM went to separate brands in 2009, and RAM have since become a huge player in the contemporary truck market. In this article, we're going to take a look at some of the best pickups this partnership produced.
1994 Dodge RAM 1500
The Dodge RAM Pickup 1500 half-ton easily justified its rating. All models came standard with a 6.5-foot or 8-foot bed, and offered a superb range of comfort options to meet buyer preference:
- Tilt steering
- Cruise control
- Air conditioning
- Cassette player
Although a 5-speed manual transmission was the standard, a 4-speed automatic was also available, improving overall satisfaction with the series. In 1995, Chuck Norris drove a Dodge RAM 1500 in the TV series: Walker, Texas Ranger. If performance reputation didn't convince everyone how amazing this vehicle was, this celebrity endorsement certainly did.
2002 Dodge RAM 1500
The next-generation Dodge RAM 1500 made its first appearance in February 2001 at the Chicago Auto Show. The immediate response was overwhelmingly favorable: the subtle hood bulge added a touch of muscle to an otherwise smooth profile, and the huge grille brought the Power Ram concept vehicle to mind right away.
The 2002 Dodge RAM 1500 came standard with a 3.7-liter Magnum V-6 that produced 35 hp more than the 3.9-liter it replaced. Roof-mounted curtain-style airbags were available as an option. According to Dodge, this was a first for a full-size pickup. Accelerator brakes and power-adjustable brakes were also available to expand the scope of driver enjoyment. It was a refined and luxurious vehicle that remained fully capable of doing hard work when needed.
2004 Dodge RAM SRT-10
Although the SRT-10 wowed audiences in 2002 at the North American International Auto Show, it was not officially produced until 2004. When the first wave reached the market, the Dodge RAM SRT-10 was immediately hailed for its speed.
Designed by engineers who had previously worked on the Dodge Viper and the Plymouth Prowler, its 8.3-liter V10 engine, 500 horsepower and 525 lb-ft of torque enabled the SRT-10 to easily accelerate from 0-60 in less than five seconds. In 2004, it even broke an official record on the track and became the world's fastest full-size factory pickup truck.
In addition to a sporty silhouette, the SRT-10 had elite interior features, such as:
- A color LCD navigation system
- 8-speaker Infinity sound system
- Aluminum pedals
- Leather-trimmed steering wheel
With a Viper-inspired exterior and classic Dodge RAM performance, the SRT-10 is a firm favorite even today.
Dodge RAM Rumble Bee
The Rumble Bee was released to the market in 2004 and 2005, and received such positive reviews that its second year was called the 'Second Swarm.' Nearly 10,000 Rumble Bees were manufactured and sold during those two years alone.
Each model came with either black or yellow finish and boasted a stripe reminiscent of those on retro Challengers and Chargers. Buyers could even customize their vehicle by adding a brushed aluminum fuel door, a chrome exhaust tip, and 20-inch aluminum wheels with chrome facing. Under the hood, it packed a 348-horsepower 5.7-liter HEMI V8 with 375 lb-ft of torque. Aptly named, this pickup became well known for being ready to rumble, and it did it with a lot of style.
Since the beginning, the Dodge RAM has been big on both style and performance, delivering 'big rig' output while remaining refined enough to appeal to the luxury market. It is one of those few pickups that combine rugged truck fundamentals with smooth driving innovations, and these vintage models prove that this has been its purpose all along.
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