1981 Dodge Ram: The Truck brand that would become the luxury truck of choice

1981 Dodge Ram: The Truck brand that would become the luxury truck of choice

Ram Fan? Check out this epic Dodge Ram logo wallet, I know I’ve ordered one already. God I love Amazon. Thanks Jeff!

Although I love my 1987 Chevy pickup, when I get a new truck in the near future it’ll be a Dodge Ram, so I wanted to learn the origin story. Today I’m going to discuss how the Ram became the ram and a little about the first generation.



1960 Dodge D/W Series Pickup

The first ever Dodge Ram which was introduced to the world in 1980 was actually called the Dodge D/W Ram and this is because although the 1981 production model is the first generation Ram, it is also the Final generation of the Dodge D/W Series of pickup trucks, which began their life in 1960 as seen in the photo above. During this crossover generation Dodge kept the previous generation’s model designations: D or Ram indicate two-wheel drive while W or Power Ram indicate four-wheel drive.

While it also used Ford’s convention for naming the weight capacity of the trucks, such as 150 for half ton, 250 for three quarter tonne and so on, the Dodge separated itself and began the legend that is the the Ram, by adding the Ram ornament which hadn’t been seen on the front of its vehicles since 1954. In 1984 a the bare bones trim level was henceforth known as the D100 and the truck continued on until 1993.

    Subscribe to our weekly newsletter to get the latest news, reviews and exclusive product discounts!

    Interestingly the same basic chassis and design was used since the introduction of the 1960 D/W range and this first Ram was no different, this would continue until the all new introduced Ram, the first which set the design tone that the Ram still has today in 1994. I’ll be talking about that truck next week.


    In terms of looks, the first generation Ram is basically just a face lifted version of the 1971, third generation, D/W series truck as you can see above. The overall look of the truck was made a bit boxier, which was in line with the competition at Ford and GM and this extended to the headlights. The old round headlights of the 60’s and 70’s were out and square ones resembling a CRT television of the time were in. There were larger, wrap around, tail lamps fitted at the back, similar to the latest Ford F-150 and Chevy C10 at the time (see my baby below).

    This model also found itself with an upgraded interior featuring an all new dashboard and bench seat. The new dashboard had a three pod layout, with the speedometer taking center stage, and interestingly on the lower trim levels the temperature and oil pressure guages were replaced with simple indicator lights.


    1991 Re-introduced the Club Cab

    If you were buying yourself a shiny new Dodge Ram in 1981, you were limited to just three engine choices, first of which was a 225 cu in (3.69 L) slant-6, which produced a tiny 95 bhp but gave a reasonable 170 lb-ft of torque. Then we move onto the two V8 choices for this generation of Ram, first up a relatively economical 318 cu in (5.21 L) V8, which would produce 140 bhp but tear up the rear tires with that lovely 240 lb-ft of Torque or you could have the slightly larger 360 cu in (5.9 L) V8 which would up the power to 175 bhp and 260 lb-ft of torque.


    Although this first generation doesn’t have the same road presence as the 1994 model which proceeded it and set the design look for the years to come up until today, the interior brought in that little bit of luxury that the current Ram is top of its class in. This generation also showcased the new engine choices which were not only bulletproof as a pickup engine should be, they also out performed their Chevy and Ford counterparts.

    I’m dying to get myself a Dodge Ram ever since I moved here, I want me a Hemi. If you were buying a pickup today, which one would it be?