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Trail’s End: Flashback December 1995, A Suburbanized Ram 3/4-Ton

Posted in Features on August 24, 2017
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Photographers: Jill Bohna Cain

Back in 1995, rumors of a Ram pickup-based SUV were swirling. In the Dec. ’95 issue of Four Wheeler we wrote that Dodge was supposedly going to call the SUV “Adventurer.” Dodge never produced the fullsize SUV. However, Sheikh Hamad Bin Hamdan Al-Nahyan, a member of the royal family in the United Arab Emirates, did have a fullsize Dodge SUV built and we featured it.

The way it went down is that Hamad enlisted the help of a friend, Ziad Alhassen, then president of West Covina Dodge, to create the truck that Dodge wouldn’t build. Ziad ordered the sheikh a ’95 3/4-ton, V-10–powered 4x4 Ram and promptly went to work “suburbanizing” it. “Ziad hired a well-known limousine company to graft the doors and rear hatch assembly from a Chevy Suburban onto the Ram. West Covina Dodge came up with the specs for the conversion and the process began,” we wrote.

“The gap between the bed and cab had to be closed to accommodate the new doors and shell, so rubber bushings were used, allowing some flex. Suburban doors and tailgate were used and re-covered with Dodge sheetmetal. The hatch and roof, however, were left as Chevy parts. The rear side glass actually had to be recessed into the sheetmetal so that the roofline could remain constant,” the story said.

Inside, Suburban seats were re-covered in Dodge fabrics, and a Suburban headliner and carpet made the interior look “OEM issue.” Even the back doors were modified with custom-built Dodge inserts and a combination of Dodge and Chevy mechanicals. Of course a ton of other mods were added including an LTD overhead storage console, Garmin GPS, Motorola CB, and a European-model Panasonic cellphone with the ability to receive calls anywhere in the world. The latter was pretty trick for 1995, we suppose. The truck eventually wound up at the Dick Cepek store in Garden Grove, California, for a variety of mods including a Rancho 3-inch suspension system, rear ALC air bags with Coach Leveler self-leveling system, 37-inch Goodyear Wrangler GSA tires (Hamad’s favorite tire), rear Lock-Right locker, front ARB Air Locker, dual batteries, a Quick-Air compressor, Smittybilt brushguard and nerf bars, and a rear-mounted Warn 12,000-pound winch.

To ensure that Hamad had enough fuel for long trips through the desert, a custom 50-gallon auxiliary fuel tank was fabbed and added to the Dodge. When combined with the factory fuel tank, the Dodge had an 85-gallon capacity.

An interesting twist to the story is that this wasn’t the only 4x4 Hamad owned. We noted, “Hamad has a matching stakebed version of this truck always following him with four spares, welder, emergency equipment, and almost every spare part imaginable.”

This story got us thinking about fullsize SUVs. The Suburban has dominated the segment while other fullsize SUVs have come and gone. Is the time right for a Ram fullsize SUV? Efficiency is always a challenge in this segment, but with the increasing use of aluminum body components combined with the latest and greatest fuel efficient engines, maybe we’re on the cusp of a resurgence of fullsize SUVs. Or maybe not. One thing is for sure, a fullsize Ram SUV based on the Power Wagon would be very cool.

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