We’re in awe of the new Ram 1500 TRX, a 702-horsepower, off-road-ready beast of a truck that takes the fight to the Ford F-150 Raptor’s den. But this isn’t the first pickup to have come from the Ram and Dodge camps that’s turned its share of heads. From mid-century, Dodge had forged a reputation for building not just tough trucks that stood up to rough conditions and harsh environments, but also trucks that dominated the road with sheer power, style, or a combination of both. Without further ado, here are eight of our favorite Dodge and Ram trucks through the years.
1946 Dodge Power Wagon
Based on Dodge’s rough and rugged WC-series trucks produced for the U.S. military, the 1946 Dodge Power Wagon was the first civilian heavy-duty 4×4 truck to enter production. Early one-ton Power Wagons were sold in a variety of wheelbase lengths to suit many different body styles, from cargo-hauling open-bed trucks to people-hauling enclosed vehicles. Power Wagons were often used as work vehicles in tough environments. Power came initially from a 230-cubic-inch inline six-cylinder engine paired with a four-speed manual gearbox and two-speed transfer case. In 1958, a W300 light-duty one-ton Power Wagon was launched, but otherwise, original Power Wagons were produced with just evolutionary changes into the 1970s for the U.S. market.
1976 Dodge Warlock
In the 1970s, truck and van customization was really coming into its own. The Dodge Warlock of 1976 was designed essentially as a pre-customized third-generation D-series pickup. As part of Dodge’s risqué-sounding “Adult Toys” line of vehicles, the Warlock could be ordered with either a six-cylinder or an eight-cylinder engine, and was factory customized with gold wheels and larger tires, bucket seats instead of the standard bench, and racks made from oak wood in the bed. Other options could be ordered as well, such as tinted windows, chrome accessories and pin-striping. Warlock production ended in 1979, but Ram created a tribute to the model in 2019.
1978 Dodge Lil’ Red Express
Born out of the Warlock theme, the Lil’ Red Express looked as good as it went. With its flared rear fenders, slightly lowered stance, and tall chrome exhaust stacks that mimicked commercial tractor-trailer trucks, the Lil’ Red Express was an intimidating machine when it debuted to the public in 1978. It backed up that appearance with a 360-cubic-inch (5.9-liter) police-spec V-8 with a few changes, (including catalytic converter delete on first-year examples) to produce 225 horsepower. Unique chrome wheels measured 7 inches wide up front and 8 inches in the back (similar to wide-fender Porsche 911s of the day) and the truck was said to be one of the quickest American vehicles of the late 1970s. Production lasted just two years, through 1979, and fewer than 7,400 were produced. They also weren’t legal in all states due to noise and emissions standards. Today, they’re highly valued collector vehicles that can bring as much as $40,000 at auction.
1978 Dodge Macho Power Wagon
Clearly Dodge was on a roll in the late ‘70s, and the Macho Power Wagon was yet another factory-tuned D-series truck built to impress right off the showroom floor. Produced from 1977 to 1981, the Macho Power Wagons had larger tires and wheels, a pre-installed roll bar, various big, bold “Power Wagon” graphics, and of course, four-wheel drive. Starting in 1981, these trucks were renamed Power Ram instead.
1989 Dodge Dakota Sport convertible
Ok, this one may not be as tough looking as the others here, but the Dodge Dakota Sport convertible was certainly different. Built with help from American Sunroof Corporation (ASC, who also designed convertible roofs for the Nissan 240SX and Porsche 944 S2 factory drop-tops, among other models), the Dakota Sport convertible was the world’s only convertible pickup truck for the three short years it was produced. The Dakota itself was a mid-size truck and the Sport configuration came standard with a 125-horsepower, 3.9-liter V-6 paired to either a five-speed manual or four-speed auto transmission. Four-wheel drive was even available, but predictably few buyers sprung for that option. Really, few buyers were to be found at all, with fewer than 2,900 Dakota Sport convertibles ever sold.
2004 Dodge Ram SRT10
If you like both muscle cars and big pickup trucks, have we got a deal for you! The 2004-’06 Dodge Ram SRT10 was a muscle truck engineered by the same folks who brought you the Plymouth Prowler and Dodge Viper. In fact, as you may have guessed from the name, the Ram SRT10 featured the 8.0-liter, 500-horsepower V-10 engine from the Viper and in its lightest specification, ripped off sub-5.0-second 0-60-mph runs like nobody’s business. A six-speed manual transmission was even available for a time, alongside a four-speed automatic. After the first year of production, brakes were wisely upgraded from standard Ram Heavy Duty units to bespoke four-piston monoblock calipers, while the 22-inch, 10-spoke wheels recalled the Viper’s rolling stock. Just over 10,100 Dodge Ram SRT10s were built over three years.
2016 Ram Rebel TRX Concept
Though just a concept, we’d be remiss in forgetting about the one-off show truck that brought us the production Ram TRX four years later. Debuting at the 2016 State Fair of Texas, the Ram Rebel TRX concept, like the production version, was based on the Ram 1500—and with “just” 575 horsepower from the familiar 6.2-liter supercharged V-8, we’d say the Hellcat-powered 702-horsepower production version is even more impressive. We do wish the Rebel TRX concept’s cool integrated side-pipe exhaust system would have carried over into production, but we understand why it didn’t.
2020 Ram 2500 HD Power Wagon
Ram (well actually, Dodge at the time) brought back the Power Wagon moniker in 2005 for the then-current Dodge Ram 2500, and it carries on even today. The 2020 Ram 2500 HD Power Wagon is an off-road-ready version of Ram’s Heavy Duty truck line that brings with it unique suspension, wheels, ‘Power Wagon’ graphics, and even a winch to pull yourself or a friend out of trouble. With a base-level 6.4-liter gasoline-powered V-8 producing 410 horsepower paired with an eight-speed automatic, the Ram 2500 HD Power Wagon is the most beastly off-road Ram you can buy—until the TRX hits showrooms, anyway.
The post Eight Amazing Dodge and Ram Trucks That Came Before TRX appeared first on Automobile Magazine.