Last month we wrote about the big changes that Ram has made to the ’13 ½-ton pickups. But this isn’t the first time we’ve written about big changes to the Ram. Back in the August, 1993 issue of Four Wheeler we published our impressions of the then-new ’94 Dodge Ram pickup, which was code-named the “T300.”
The second-generation Ram was a radical departure from the first-gen Ram. The frame was all new; the rear leaf springs were extended 10 inches to improve ride quality; and although a solid front axle was retained, the front leaf springs were replaced by a four-link, coil-sprung setup modeled after the Jeep Cherokee and Grand Cherokee of the time.
Depending on the model, powerplant choices for the ’94 Ram included the 5.2L Magnum V-8, 5.9L Magnum V-8, all-new 8.0L Magnum V-10, and the 5.9L Cummins turbodiesel I-6. Transmission choices, depending on model and engine selection, included the NV3500 five-speed manual, A518 four-speed automatic, NV4500 five-speed manual, NV4500 HD five-speed manual, or the A618 four-speed automatic.
About the new interior we wrote, “And gone are the cluttered and confusingly outdated dashboards and shut-up-and-sit utility seats.” We also noted, “However, in their place is over a billion dollars of investment in what amounts to a ‘revolutionary’ truck redesign.” The dash was smooth and rounded, the steering wheel downsized, and there was a standard driver-side airbag. Seating options included the industry’s first 40/20/40-split bucket seats, which included a large armrest in the center that offered a vast amount of storage. Also, during the design of the truck a significant amount of attention was paid to decreasing the overall noise level in the cab.
And then there was the truck’s exterior styling, which was significantly different from what was available from any manufacturer at the time. We said, “The unique front fender designs resemble more of the Peterbilt and Mack Truck blueprint than any other full-size truck on the market.” The hood was also quite a bit smaller than the one found on the first-gen Ram and this had a practical result of improved forward visibility. “It’s surprising how much asphalt, dirt road, or trail you can see in front of the vehicle,” we noted.
What was the upshot of all this? Well, at the time no one had any idea how the all-new truck would affect Dodge pickup truck sales. A modest bump was probably expected, but nobody had a clue to what degree. As it turned out, the new Ram was an incredible success for Chrysler. Sales of the Ram doubled for the ’94 model year and the steady climb continued. For the ’96 model year, Ram sales were four times the sales of the ’93 Ram first-gen truck.
The second-gen Ram wasn’t perfect (example: axle-disconnect system on almost all front axles), but it left its mark in pickup truck history in a big way by luring buyers from other manufacturers and almost instantly it made Dodge a major player in the light truck world. Today, Cummins-powered second-gen 4x4 Ram trucks are selling for top dollar in the used truck market. Conversely, gasoline-powered 4x4 Ram trucks are very reasonably priced and there are a slew of ’em available (search Craigslist, they’re everywhere). With a low used purchase price and strong aftermarket support, the second-gen Ram has now become a great foundation for a low-buck trail/work machine.