A Brief and Incomplete History of the Dodge Ramcharger

Nov. 01, 2005 By ORC STAFF
This history is evolving; please feel free to post your own contributions and corrections.

In the beginning...

Tony Hanson reports that Chrysler started Ramcharger production in 1974 to counter the Chevy Blazer. At one point, he states, they considered the name Rhino.

The Dodge Ramcharger is a full size sport utility vehicle. It is essentially a short bed 4x4 pickup (Dodge Power Wagon) with a wagon style body. However, as Tony Hanson pointed out, the Ramcharger's wheelbase is significantly shorter than that of the short wheelbase pickup truck ('72-'93 short wheelbase pickup is 115 inches, while '74-'93 Ramcharger is 106 inches). In fact, Tony knows someone who built a pseudo-Ramcharger from a short wheelbase truck, which he named a Trail Charger.

The Ramcharger is somewhat unique in that it offered a two wheel drive version. However, no four door version of the Ramcharger was offered.

The configuration of the body has changed over the years. Tony Hanson reports that for the first half of 1974, the window channels (top of the doors) were part of a removable top.

Unlike many of its modern counterparts, the 4x4 Ramcharger was not tamed for soccer mom use. Even the Royal SE Ramcharger, with cruise control and power accessories, was a brute, with stiff front leaf springs and a solid, if somewhat harsh, ride. Later Ramchargers (at least since 1982) did offer a fiberglass liftgate, supported by two gas cylinders. Great for loading in the rain, but a real pain if your cargo shifts and ends up leaning against the hatch. It's pretty hard to open a liftgate and catch a falling suitcase (been there, done that).

Ramcharger used to have an identical twin, called the Plymouth Trailduster. Back in the glory days of Detroit quality control, I recall driving by a Chrysler Plymouth dealer, and seeing a Trail Duster with a bright chrome grille that proudly displayed the letters D-O-D-G-E. But, I digress.

The Ramcharger won its fair share of accolades over the years, including 4x4 of the Year from Four Wheeler magazine.

Sadly, the Ramcharger is no longer in production. It was last produced in 1993; although, I have read that it is still built and sold in Mexico. Rumor has it that it will be resurrected based on the new full-size Ram.

More later...

This page was last modified on 27 May 9

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