The Ram truck line is relatively new, having only been separated from Dodge since 2009. However, before Ram was standing on its own four wheels, it created high-quality trucks via the Dodge Ram truck line. And before that, Ram was integrated into Dodge trucks via their model names and slogans. Although new and used Ram dealers wouldn’t have been a thing until 2009, Ram truck history goes back much farther than that. Whether before, during, or after the Dodge Ram truck line, these trucks have been giving the Ram name a fantastic reputation for years. There have been many capable trucks sporting the Ram name in some shape or form for the past several decades, but these next seven vehicles represent some of the highlights of the line’s long and illustrious career.
The 1974 Dodge Ramcharger
Off-roading SUVs enjoyed a renaissance of sorts in the latter half of the twentieth century. They were built on truck platforms, four-wheel drive was assumed, and removable hard tops allowed for an open-air experience. The Dodge Ramcharger, debuting for the 1974 model year, checked all these boxes. Yes, it’s an SUV; however, it was a very truck-like SUV, sharing a platform with the likes of the D-Series and the Ram. With the steel roof removed, it even looks like a pickup. During its debut year, it was offered exclusively in full-time four-wheel drive, and its shortened wheelbase allowed for a tight turning radius that was great for maneuvering off the beaten path. The Ramcharger also had convenience features that were ahead of its time, like an insulated cooler built into the center console.
The 1989 Dodge Ram
The Dodge D Series debuted for the 1961 model year, but it wasn’t until 1981 that it began being branded as a Dodge Ram. The pickup promised to be “Ram Tough” and had a redesigned look to go with the new marketing strategy. It was in the thick of its third generation but got an upgraded interior and front fascia. In 1982, the Dodge Ram benefitted from more corrosion-resistant steel, and in 1988, making the truck less prone to rust. In 1988, a 3.9-liter V6 was added to the engine lineup, which produced 180 hp and 195 lb-ft of torque. This was offered in addition to a couple of V8 options. Finally, in 1989, a new turbo diesel engine became an option, making 400 lb-ft of torque. With that, the 1989 Dodge Ram felt like a holistically capable pickup until it was discontinued in 1993.
The 2004 Dodge Ram SRT-10
The Street and Racing Technology division of Dodge, or SRT, has long been cramming big engines into cars for hugely powerful results. The SRT team has worked closely with the Charger and Challenger, but they aren’t the only vehicles to don the badge. In 2004, a truck borrowed an engine from the Dodge Viper, making for a high-performing pickup dubbed the Dodge Ram SRT-10. The engine? An 8.3-liter V10 that produced 500 hp. The Dodge Ram SRT-10 had other modifications that helped it reach its objective, like a spoiler and a low stance, plus tires from Pirelli. At the time of its debut, it was the fastest production pickup record holder with a top speed of 154 mph.
The 2005 Dodge Ram Daytona
In 2005, another sport truck from the Dodge Ram line debuted. This time, it was the Dodge Ram Daytona. Similar to the SRT-10, it was preceded by a sports car. The original Daytona was a modified Dodge Charger that was around in the 1960s. The coupe was built for racing and became the first NASCAR vehicle to hit 200 mph. The Dodge Ram Daytona wasn’t intended to be an actual race car, but it looked like one with a hood scoop, albeit non-functioning, sporty decals around the body, and a spoiler that sat perched on the top of the tailgate. It also had 20-inch chrome wheels and was powered by a 5.7-liter HEMI V8 that produced 345 hp. The Dodge Ram Daytona was only in production for one model year, but what a year it was.
The 2011 Ram Dakota
The Ram Dakota, also known as the Dodge Dakota, is a midsize pickup and the first to have the option of a V8. It was marketed as the Dodge Dakota for much of its lifespan, but the final two years of production saw it fall on the Ram side of the Dodge/Ram brand split. Its 25-year run ended after the 2011 model year due to dwindling interest in the segment, but that didn’t keep the Dakota from getting stronger and stronger. Its engine options for its last year were a 3.7-liter V6 and a 4.7 V8. At just over 7000 lbs, its towing capacity was some of the best in the market for its size.
The 2021 Ram 3500
Any Ram 3500 produced in the last several years will be capable of tackling tough jobs, but in 2021 it took the crown for the highest towing capacity in its segment. Thanks to some tweaks to its 6.7-liter high-output Cummins turbo diesel, its torque was bumped to 1075 lb-ft (up from 1000 lb-ft) for a maximum towing capacity of 37,100 lbs. Its other two engine options are not too shabby either; the standard option being a 6.4-liter HEMI V8 and the third option being a standard-output version of the Cummins turbo diesel, which gets 370 hp and 850 lb-ft of torque. On top of that, the 2021 Ram 3500 offers a luxurious in-cabin experience that outpaces its competitors; its top trim, Longhorn, includes gold trim and a hand-branded longhorn logo on the glove box door.
The 2023 Ram 1500
The Ram 1500 is a powerhouse in the full-sized truck segment, offering a blend of capability and comfort that hits all the right notes for many drivers. Its versatile engine lineup includes a 3.0-liter EcoDiesel V6, a supercharged 6.2-liter HEMI V8, and two options: a 3.6-liter V6 and a 5.7-liter V8, which utilize hybrid technology to maximize efficiency. The Ram 1500 TRX is back for 2023, continuing its legacy of dominance in the off-roading space. It’s powered by the supercharged HEMI and has a 0 to 60 mph time of 3.7 seconds. Its suspension can handle a bump or tow with over 13 inches of available travel room, and its 35-inch tires help create 11.8 inches of ground clearance.
Impressive Past, Meet a Bright Future
Ram’s timeline can be neatly summed up with these seven vehicles. They’ve dipped their toes in off-roading and sporty performance, collaborated with the Dodge line, and eventually split from it. The success of the modern Ram truck line can be attributed to the ones that came before, paving the way for top-of-the-line capability, style, and luxury. The future of Ram trucks promises to be even more impressive than anything we’ve seen, past or present.
The Ram Revolution concept truck is a fully-electrified version of the 1500, and it offers a glimpse at what may be coming: earth-inspired interiors, the best in luxury, and emission-free power that is void of compromise. An automaker’s success often depends on the good reputations of the vehicles of the past. Ram honors its past with its current lineup of trucks. If what we’ve seen from them so far is any indication, the future surely looks bright for Ram trucks.