Dodge Ram truck First Generation
|1981 to 1993|
|Body and chassis|
|Body style||2-door 2-door extended cab 4-door crew cab Dually|
|Platform||Chrysler AD platform|
|Engine||225 cu in (3.69 L) Slant-6 I6 239 cu in (3.92 L) LA V6 318 cu in (5.21 L) LA V8 360 cu in (5.9 L) LA V8 5.9 L (360 cu in) Cummins diesel I6|
|Transmission||3- or 4-speed Torqueflite automatic 4- or 5-speed manual|
|Wheelbase||2-door short bed: 115 in (2,921 mm) 2-door long bed: 131 in (3,327 mm) 2-door extended cab long bed: 149 in (3,785 mm) 4-door long bed: 165 in (4,191 mm)|
|Length||190.8 in (4,846 mm) 210.8 in (5,354 mm)|
|Width||79.5 in (2,019 mm)|
|Height||76 in (1,930 mm) 73 in (1,854 mm)|
The first-generation Ram trucks & vans introduced in 1981 were named for the Ram hood ornament that first appeared on Dodge vehicles in 1933. Dodge kept the previous generation's model designations: "D", "B" or Ram indicated two-wheel drive while the "W" or Power Ram indicated four-wheel drive. Just like Ford, Dodge used 150 to indicate a half-ton truck, 250 for a three-quarter-ton, and 350 for one-tons. Standard cab, "Club" extended cab, and crew cab versions were offered along with 6.5 ft (2.0 m) and 8 ft (2.4 m) bed lengths and "Utiline" and "Sweptline" styled boxes. Externally, the first-generation Rams were facelifted versions of the previous generation Dodge D-Series pickups introduced in 1972. The new model introduced larger wraparound tail lamps, single rectangular headlamps, and squared-off body lines. Variously configured Slant-6 and V8 gasoline engines were available. The interior was updated and included a newer style bench seat, and a completely new dashboard and instrument cluster, with a three pod design - a speedometer in the center, with the two side pods containing an ammeter on the top left, a temperature gauge bottom left, a fuel gauge on the top right and an oil pressure gauge bottom right. Models not having a full gauge package had only indicator lights in the place of the temperature and oil pressure gauges. Among the options offered on the Ram were front bumper guards, a sliding rear cab window, power door locks and windows, and a plowing package for the 4-wheel-drive version (referred to as the Sno Commander).
The Club Cab was dropped from the lineup after 1982, but Dodge kept the tooling and re-introduced the Club Cab a decade later in the 1991 models. The four door crew cab was dropped after the 1985 model year, and was never re-introduced.
Base D100 models were added for 1984, replacing the previous "Miser" trim level available on the D150. A "Ram-Trac" shift-on-the-fly transfer case was added for the 1985's Power Rams, and both the crew cab and Utiline flared bed were dropped for 1986. Also for 1986 was the first year for a new crossbar grille and slight front end styling changes. Engines were updated for the 1988 model year. The Slant-6 was supplanted by a 3.9 L (240 cu in) fuel-injected V6 with 25% more power. The 5.2 L (318 cu in) engine also received electronic fuel injection in 1988. Because of a new computer controlled fuel injection, ignition and ABS system, more vehicle information needed to be displayed through any warning or notification lights; so inside the cab where a small compartment was once located on the dash, a new "message center" with four small rectangular light spots, contained the check engine light and other tell-tales including one for the parking brake and the ABS if the truck was so equipped. The message center later contained wait to start and water in fuel lights on diesel models. Diagnostic fault codes were stored in the computer's memory, and cycling the ignition key three times would allow the computer to flash the trouble codes through the check-engine light for diagnosis of some problems.
The Ram 100 model designation was dropped and these models folded back into the "150" range for 1990 due to the introduction and sales success of the Dodge Dakota pickup. Additionally, the instrument cluster was slightly revised; the ammeter was replaced by a voltmeter while maintaining the 3-pod arrangement of the speedometer and gauges.
These trucks, though popular with fleets, sold poorly compared to the Ford F-Series and the General Motors C/K Trucks, with just under 100,000 units sold most years of their production. Part of this was due to the dated cab and chassis design which had been in production since 1972. Additionally, the interior had been given few updates since 1981.
1986 Dodge Ram truck First Generation D250
Engines & transmissions
For 1989, the 5.9 L V8 also received throttle body fuel injection for a 20 hp (15 kW) gain. Rear ABS also became standard equipment. Additionally, Dodge introduced a new overdrive automatic transmission for reduced fuel consumption. This light-duty transmission was designated the A500, and was offered with the 3.9 L V6 and 5.2 L V8. An "O/D Off" pushbutton switch to lock out the overdrive 4th gear was added to the message center. The A727 automatic saw continued use for heavy duty applications.
The grille was redesigned for 1991 but kept the large rectangular headlamps and crossbar appearance. The engines were substantially upgraded for 1992 (3.9L and 5.2L) and 1993 (5.9) with multi-port fuel injection, new manifolds and higher compression cylinder heads for noticeably higher output. These newly revised engines were marketed under the "Magnum" name. A heavy-duty overdrive Torqueflite automatic transmission called the A518 was offered with the 5.2 L and 5.9 L engines. As part of Chrysler's overhaul of corporate transmission nomenclature, the A500 and A518 were redesignated 42RH and 46RH, respectively, in 1992. The initial "4" signified a 4-speed transmission, the second digit identified the transmission's relative torque capacity, the letter "R" in the third position denoted a rear-wheel drive transmission, and the final letter "H" signified hydraulic shift control. The 3-speed automatic remained available; the A727 was redesignated 36RH, and the A904, A998, and A999 became the 30RH, 31RH, and 32RH. During this time, Dodge reintroduced the Club Cab, which was equipped with fold-out jump seats. Entry was made through the passenger or drivers doors as there were no rear doors for this configuration.
A Cummins B Series engine was also added to the engine lineup and for the first time, Dodge saw sales go up. The Cummins could be coupled with a heavier-duty version of the A727 automatic or a 5-speed manual transmission and was available on 250 and 350 pickups and chassis cabs. This diesel engine option was drastically different from Ford and GM diesel engines optioned at the time. The Cummins featured direct injection, where the Ford and GM diesels featured Indirect injection; this also meant the Cummins didn't have to rely on glowplugs. The Cummins was a straight-six engine where the GM and Ford diesel engines were V8 engines. As well, the Cummins was turbocharged, while the 6.2L GM/DDC and 7.3 IDI Ford/IH were naturally aspirated. This was not the first engine to appear in Dodges as a Diesel option. Mid-1970s D models offered the rare, underpowered, Mitsubishi non-turbo diesel.
1989 Dodge Ram truck First Generation