The Dodge RAM is among the best-known pickups in the world, with proven durability, capability, and reliability. The Dodge RAM’s history begins in 1981, although the pickup trucks that influenced it are even older than this. To get a feel for how the current RAM models came to be, take a look back at the previous generations.
The 1st Generation
The first generation of the Dodge RAM pickup arrived in 1981, lasting until 1993. Keep in mind that the first Dodge pickup was produced in 1917, meaning there was well over half a century of Dodge trucks without the RAM name on them.
The first Dodge RAMs had powerful engines that had been on other Dodge models for years. Drivers could enjoy the 95-horsepower 3.7-liter slant-6, the 140-horsepower 5.2-liter V8, or the 170-horsepower 5.9-liter V8 depending on the designation of the RAM: half, three-quarter, or one ton. These ton ratings were designated by 150, 250, or 350, and Dodge RAM used “D” for two-wheel-drive models and “W” for four-wheel-drive ones.
Mid-Generation Engine Update
Although the first generation was still going strong, Dodge RAM introduced new engines and electronic fuel injection in 1988 and 1989. The 5.2-liter V8 saw electronic fuel injection in 1988, with the other models following the next year. This improved overall performance. 1989 also saw a new 125-horsepower 3.9-liter V6 to replace the 3.7, and the 5.9-liter V8 got more power, 190 horses. The Cummins turbodiesel that makes headlines today also arrived in 1989 as a 160-horsepower, 400-pound-foot, 5.9-liter inline-6.
The next big news for the Dodge RAM pickups was in 1994 with the start of the second generation and a redesign. This brought on a pickup that had a truck’s rugged exterior yet a car-like interior. This year also changed the naming scheme from 150, 250, and 350 to 1500, 2500, and 3500. This is also when Dodge RAMs were officially the largest full-size trucks available, offering the most spacious cabins. The trim levels were also reworked, ranging from a plain work truck to a top-of-the-line luxury one.
In 1998, The RAM 1500 got the choice of three cabs, including the all-new Quad Cab. This cabin had hinged access doors to help rear-seat passengers and could be paired with a 6.5-foot or 8-foot box. A Sports package was added in 1999 with some unique styling elements.
The next major redesign for the Dodge RAM was in 2002. The exterior and interior styling were both retouched, the engines improved, and it got an all-new frame. The grille became more substantial, and the 2003 Dodge RAM 1500 got a 5.7-liter HEMI V8 with 345 horsepower plus 375 pound-feet to replace the aging 5.2-liter Magnum V8.
The Dodge RAM seemed to have an uncertain future in 2009 when Dodge and RAM decided to separate their efforts. Many were concerned about what would happen to their collaborations, like the pickup, but these worries were for nothing. RAM has been able to focus on the trucks, making incredible updates and producing powerful vehicles that can handle anything.