Segment Thirteen: 1994 to 2000 Ram Pickups
Author: Don Bunn
The new Ram pickups, code named T-300, launched in 1993 as 1994 model year trucks, were the most important new product launch in the history of the Chrysler Corporation, maybe the entire industry. Other historically important truck launches were Ford's 1953 to 1956 Series which put Ford on the road to overtake Chevrolet for the truck leadership honors and Chevrolet-GMC's 1999 models. These launches differed from Dodge's in that they were geared to increase market share whereas Dodge's goal was first to survive and then to gain market share. The former Dodge truck series was in its 22nd year and obviously long overdue for replacement. Chrysler's management would have replaced it years earlier with a new truck code named Phoenix but when it was looked at by focus groups they decided to scrap it and try again. Focus group members told management that the Phoenix was a "good" truck, it was "just like the competitor's trucks." The problem was that Dodge was only getting 7 percent (80,000 units in 1993, half diesel powered) of the 1.3 million vehicle pickup truck market.

The 1988 Dodge Phoenix prototype pickup never made it into production. Note its grille which is nearly identical to the grille used on the 1991 to 1993 pickups. (Photo: DaimlerChrysler)

Management sent the designers back to the drawing boards for another attempt. The new Ram design was shown to focus groups. Whereas the Phoenix had received ratings of 6 1/2 or 7 on a scale of 1 to 10, the new Ram received ratings of 9s and 10s, and also zeroes, 1s, 2s and 3s. In other words potential customers either loved it or hated it. Management felt that if many of those who gave it a high rating purchased they would be far better off than getting 7 percent of the total market with the Phoenix.
Looking back at when the new Ram began to be sold I vividly remember how the buzz was that buyers either loved it or hated it. What's interesting to note however is that these feelings didn't last very long. The new Ram's revolutionary shape was quickly accepted and completely redefined the

The standard cab was the only cab offered in 1994, a 1994 1500 V8 powered pickup is shown. (Photo: DaimlerChrysler)

American pickup. Ford was too far along with their new F-150 at that point in time for a major redesign and so they had to launch it as it was. They were able to give their F-250 and F-350 Super-Duty models a new big truck, Dodge-like design, however. Watch for a big truck, Dodge-like design for the new Chevrolet and GMC one-ton trucks to be introduced soon.

A Club Cab model was added to the Ram lineup in 1995. A 1995 Dodge 1500 V8 is shown.
(Photo: DaimlerChrysler)

We all agree that the design of the T-300 was a winner, after all its the first thing you notice about the new Ram, but to be successful the new pickups needed more than good looks. The other major hallmarks of the T-300 included its cab interior. Market research disclosed that more than cab comfort, interior room

The 1998 Dodge Quad Cab was the industry's first four-door extended cab pickup. (Photo DaimlerChrysler)

Dodge built its one-ton pickups only with dual rear wheels. A 1998 Cummins powered one-ton Club Cab is shown. (Photo: DaimlerChrysler).

and storage, and better interior design was highly valued by pickup buyers. Dodge designers hit a home run with their new cab - with its industry first Business Center, big tilting and fully adjustable seats, another industry first, a behind-the-seat storage system, available 40/20/40 seating and more hip, shoulder and head room.

A better ride and better handling for 4-wheel drive pickups was made possible through using a version of the Jeep Grand Cherokee's front suspension and the rear springs were a foot longer than the rear springs on the previous truck.

T-300's engine options featured Magnum engines -- a 3.9 liter V6 and 5.2 and 5.9 liter V8s, the most

powerful engines in their class; the industry's most powerful diesel and a new 8.0 liter V10 which featured even greater horsepower and torque than the diesel.

The only model change with the new Ram was that the former single rear wheel one-tons were dropped. All Ram one-tons came standard with dual rear wheel. Ram's 3/4 ton replaced the former single rear one-ton.

A Club Cab option built in Mexico was added in 1995. Total factory Club Cab production was sold out in the first month. The big Club Cab allowed adults to ride comfortably on a full-width bench seat in the rear.

Dodge Truck increased its manufacturing capability from one plant (Mound Road in Warren, Michigan) to a second plant in St. Louis and two plants in Mexico. Dodge soon tripled its market share to 20 percent. As of this date the Ram is the industry's oldest pickup but yet retains its sales and market share. Current Annual Sales are running at 418,000 units. Total industry full-size pickup sales are projected at 2.1 million units for 1999.

The 2000 Dodge Ram will add a new 6-speed manual transmission built by New Venture Gear. It was engineered specifically for Cummins powered pickups in order to take maximum advantage of the diesel's power band.

Bright Solar Yellow paint was offered by Dodge for the youth market and to draw attention to Dodge pickups. This color was only offered on half-ton Rams and Dakotas. Solar Yellow was chosen by 2 1/2 percent of Ram buyers. A 1999 Dodge 1500 Club Cab is shown. (Photo: Don Bunn).

2000 Dodge Diesel with 6-speed manual transmission. (Photo: Don Bunn)


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1940-1980: Dodge Power Wagon Pickups