The Dodge Ram pickup had been around since the early 1980s, and this full-size truck from the Chrysler stable had built up quite a reputation as the backwoodsman’s best friend. But all good things come to the end, and every automaker’s dream is to replace a best seller with an even more successful model that cashes in on the name and reputation of its predecessor.
That was certainly Dodge’s gameplan when the squarish first generation pickups were replaced by the well-rounded second generation BR/BE Rams from 1994. The front end was deliberately styled to echo the appearance of a big lorry rig, with the intention of appealing to the open-road trucking instincts of would-be buyers of these large pickups. Even so, size was relative. The choice of engine capacity ranged from 3.9 litres all the way up to 8 litres, via a 5.9 litre diesel, with four-speed automatic or four- and five-speed manual transmission. The Ram itself could be had in 1500 half ton, 2500 three-quarter ton or 3500 one ton versions. Beyond that, it was possible to choose between the Ram’s basic two-door configuration, a three-door extended cab or the four-door extended cab option.
Inside, considerable attention was paid to improving the first generation’s somewhat spartan trim. This involved introducing ample storage space and a more user-friendly instrument cluster. Dodge’s cunning plan was a triumph. Ram sales doubled in the first year that the BR/BE series pickups were available, with 1994 seeing sales more than double to 240,000 units. In 1996 the figure was 400,000 units, making the second generation Ram an outstanding success.
As soon as sales started to decline, Dodge repeated the relaunch trick. Second generation Rams didn’t last as long as the first, being superseded by the massive third generation DR/DH trucks in 2002 after a major reworking that completely changed the Ram’s appearance.
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:
1994 (until 2001)
Various, including a 3.9 I (239 cid) V6, 5.9 I (360 cid) V8, 5.9 I (359 cid) Straight Six Diesel and
8.0 I (488 cid) V10.
With 8.0 I engine—top speed of 128 mph (206 km/h); 0-60 mph (97 km/h) in 9.8 secs
YOU SHOULD KNOW:
In 1995 Dodge dipped a tentative toe into ecowaters by offering a ‘green’ natural gas engine, but it was not popular and soon vanished — though Dodge continued to promote improved Cummings Turbo Diesels that were belatedly challenging American antipathy to anything that didn’t run on petrol.