From Chrysler's deep heritage in production and concept trucks, many designs for the 2009 Dodge Ram began to be considered. Each design was digitally sketched and translated into scale clay models (like in the picture above) before the choices were narrowed down to the finalists.
"With designers, the temptation is to change the game. We looked at several versions – actually up to twelve different models. Then it became eleven. Then we were down to three that were wildly different (from each other)," describes Mr. Gilles.
As the team brainstormed and competed with one another, each of the ideas for the Ram’s exterior was identified not by its style but by the designers’ last names. "For example, we had the Pizzuti, the Williams theme, the Krugger - named after Scott Krugger, who we picked to do the exterior of (the final) truck, and others," says Mr. Gilles.
You can see the designers' names in the corners of many of the pictures that accompany this story.
But as the major exterior styling directions were firmed up and the models narrowed down, parts of designs that weren't carried forward still had an impact on the finalists. Describing that process, Mr. Gilles says, "What we did was mix and match. There were parts and research that people liked in each. So we did things like, grab the headlamps off the Williams, the nose off the Krugger, the body side off the Surel, and then the rest of it evolved as we developed the final design."
The first of the final three themes was based heavily on the Power Wagon. Renderings and drawings show a truck with an extremely strong front end presence and the Power Wagon’s trademark bowed grille.
The second theme focused around the Dodge Rampage. In one of the renderings it’s identified as the Rhino SUT, or sport utility truck, a reference to its radically different proportions and shape. One illustration even shows a cargo box with a pass through door into the cabin, similar to the Midgate on the Chevrolet Avalanche SUT.
The last theme was derivative of the current Ram’s iconic shape, closely linking the exterior of the new truck with the shape of Chrysler’s best selling vehicle. This was the shape that Mr. Gilles and his lead designer Mark Allen chose as the theme for the production truck. Mr. Allen had also been involved styling the current Ram before joining the effort on the 2009 model.
The total time to review and determine the final theme took about two years.
Then, based on the iconic design, more clay models were created as rolling prototypes. This time they were full-size to compare against each other and the current Dodge Ram. Each had subtle variations to test different style headlamps, grilles, and body lines. They also tested the new exterior look with different cab configurations and even with dual rear wheels, according to Mr. Gilles.