1995 Dodge Ram 1500 Skyjacker Suspension - Higher Rambitions
New Life For An Old Dodge Ram
When Dodge introduced the redesigned Ram in 1994, the truck was a radical departure from its competition at the time. The new pickup was a combination of unique big-rig and aerodynamic styling that set it apart in a big way. This new Ram hit the truck-buying public right between the eyes and the result was that Dodge's market share in the fullsize pickup market tripled. This second-generation Ram 1500 had an impressive run and it continued in production through 2001 before it was redesigned.
Aside from styling there were/are a lot of things to like about the four-wheel-drive Ram--its coil-sprung solid front axle being one of the big ones. This setup offered a great ride and it was durable and easy to lift. Today used Rams are in demand and there is still great aftermarket support.
For this reason we wanted to illustrate how one of these rigs can be easily modified to better handle off-highway travel. We started with a bone-stock '95 Ram 1500 that had spent its entire life near our Four Wheeler Midwest Bureau doing thankless chores around the farm. Even though it has low miles, it wears the battle scars of a hard life, including dents from a jackknifed trailer incident. We wanted to improve the truck's functionality while not killing its ability to work. Hence we opted for a 5-inch Skyjacker Single Flex suspension lift that would allow us to fit a set of meaty 315/75R16 Mickey Thompson MTZ Radial tires on 10-inch-wide Mickey Thompson Classic Lock wheels.
For this story we actually got to work with a shop we've never worked with before and that was exciting. Forreston Auto Body in Forreston, Illinois, completed the install. Don't let the name fool you. The team at Forreston Auto Body has a history of installing four-wheel-drive suspensions and accessories. You can read more about them in the accompanying sidebar.
So how does the Skyjacker kit do what it does? How did the suspension of our 14-year-old Rust Belt truck react to being disassembled? What do we think of the Mickey Thompson tires and wheels? Read on.
The new links and track bar definitely contributed to improved handling, and on-center feel is outstanding. Before the install, the truck had a tendency to wander, but that is now gone. Overall we're very happy with how the truck drives and we can say it has noticeably improved. The ride has stiffened a bit, but no surprise there. Traction is now dramatically improved as well, thanks to the MTZs. At the time of this install, northern Illinois roads were covered in patchy snow and ice and we've noticed absolutely no weirdness transitioning from one to the other at highway speed. We're pretty happy with how our truck looks, too.
As is the case with all tire size increases, the added mass and weight has us thinking about bigger brakes for when we pull trailers. We're also needing a new drop hitch. Oh, and maybe some kind of retractable steps. Before the install there were aluminum steps on the rig (they had to be removed after the lift due to front tire contact). Stock, the step-in height with the aluminum steps was 16 inches, but now is 30.5 inches, which makes for some high-steppin' to get in and out of the rig. It's a small price to pay for the great ground clearance increase though.
So what did it cost? At the time of this writing the Skyjacker kit we installed had an MSRP of $2,521 including the track-bar kit. The four MTZ tires and wheels had an MSRP of $2,018 including the black ring upgrade. Installation and alignment for our specific truck at Forreston Auto Body totaled approximately $700. Grand total: approximately $5,239.
By the Numbers
Our goals for this project included improving our Ram's overall ground clearance as well as approach and departure angles. The following chart shows that we succeeded in accomplishing those goals.
|Ground to trailer hitch||16.75 in||23.5 in||+40%|
|Ground to front bumper||17.0 in||24.875 in||+46%|
|Ground to front differential||8.125 in||10.75 in||+32%|
|Ground to rear differential||7.5 in||10.25 in||+37%|
|Ground to transmission crossmember||12.75 in||20.5 in||+61%|
|Angle of approach||33 deg||43 deg||+30%|
|Angle of departure||25 deg||30 deg||+20%|
About Forreston Auto Body
Forreston Auto Body has been around for more than 40 years. They're situated, as their name implies, in Forreston, Illinois. Forreston is a small quaint town about 25 miles southwest of Rockford, Illinois. Like we said earlier, don't let the name lead you to believe they're only a body shop. Sure, they can handle everything from crash damage to complete restorations, but this stunningly clean family-owned business is also a one-stop shop for sales and installation of everything from work-truck equipment to trailer hitches and wiring to vinyl graphics to, obviously, suspension lift kits. General manager Marty Alich is a wheeler from way back. As a matter of fact, we photographed his '90 Chevy pickup for a feature in 1995.