In the mid-1970s, consumers demanded something other than a muscle car to drive around. After all, they were fun and exciting on the street, but not much good off the beaten path. That’s where the large SUV comes in, with the Ramcharger being the production design marketed by Dodge. It was an attempt to compete with the Ford Bronco and the Chevrolet K5, which performed very well in terms of performance. The vehicle is and has always been a durable off-road SUV that is as tough as it looks. Let’s take a look at this amazing machine to find out where the Dodge Ramcharger came from, why it left and everything in between.
10/10 It didn’t come with four-wheel drive until 1974
Front and side view of a 1974 Dodge Ramcharger
The first year of production was a Dodge creation in 1974 in an effort to eliminate the two main sources of competition. It was common to see a Bronco or K-5 racing through the off-road terrain, but until the Ramcharger came on the market, Dodge had no vehicle that could keep up. As an idea to take over the off-road world, it made no sense to make an SUV that didn’t have all-wheel drive. The company built the Ramcharger as an all-time all-wheel drive vehicle to make things easy for consumers.
9/10 The rear-wheel drive option was offered in 1975
Front and side view of a 1975 Dodge Ramcharger
The following year, Dodge’s designers and salespeople realized it was a mistake to let the Ramcharger come with no options to move out of four-wheel drive. Consumers loved driving in the mountains, swamps and deserts, but they also wanted to be able to use them as everyday vehicles. In 1975 the assembly lines rolled out some Ramchargers that were the exact opposite of last year’s design, removing the all-time four-wheel drive and replacing it with a rear-wheel drive vehicle that could be a great everyday driver, but it lost some of its off-road prowess in the process.
8/10 Transfer case selections made available in 1978
Front and side view of a 1978 Dodge Ramcharger
The most common Dodge Ramcharger you will see on the road or in the back country is model year 1978 or later. The idea of combining the early years brought about the biggest and best assembly change the company could have made. In ’78, assembly lines began kicking out the new-and-improved Dodge Ramcharger. An all-terrain vehicle that can be used on any terrain and in any weather, but also an all-terrain vehicle that can be used to transport children to and from school. The Ramchargers were given the option to switch from all-wheel drive to rear-wheel drive and back again when needed.
7/10 The roof would come off with part of the door!
Rear and side view of a topless 1974 Dodge Ramcharger
People absolutely love riding in the open air. That’s why Dodge followed suit with Ford and Chevy by making an SUV with a removable roof. The crazy thing about the first half of the opening production year was the placement of the pillars. The entire shell for the roof would come off in one piece, including the front posts connecting to the door. This made the door one half door when the top was off. These half doors were replaced by a standard size from the D Series trucks by the second half of the year, creating one solid door.
6/10 Rear seats were optional in the earlier models
Front and side view of a topless 1974 Dodge Ramcharger
For the first few years of production, the Ramchargers were designed primarily for off-road use, making adding rear seats pointless. If the buyers wanted them, they could have them for extra moolah. Otherwise, the 1974 to 1976 Dodge Ramchargers would come off the assembly line with a driver’s seat, not even a passenger seat, unless chosen, because the SUV is made to transport one person from standard driving areas into the great unknown.
5/10 Second generation had welded tops
Side view of a red 1989 Dodge Ramcharger
New safety regulations made it impossible for the Dodge Ramcharger to provide the open air of the road with the roof off. The pillars and one-off attachment points had to be welded to increase the safety of the SUV. This was a huge disappointment to Ramcharger enthusiasts, as they could no longer drive down the road with their occupants in the back seat and get as much fresh air as they wanted. That’s the whole point though. To keep the people in the SUV and not hanging around if an accident were to happen.
4/10 Ended in 1993 in America and in 2001 in Mexico
Rear and side view of a 2000 Dodge Ramcharger
Perhaps one of the most interesting facts about the Dodge Ramcharger is that it was built in the United States and Canada through the end of the 1993 model year, but sold in Mexico until 1996. In 1999, the Ramchargers were redesigned and produced in Mexico, until 2001, when the SUV was finally retired. Or so they said back then, but ever since the Ford Bronco made a successful comeback, there’s always a chance to see a new generation come to life.
3/10 Easy to switch to a larger motor
Front and top view of an engine bay of a 1986 Dodge Ramcharger
Off-road enthusiasts love to test their vehicles in some of the world’s most challenging locations. The bigger the bike, the more fun they have and the more likely they are to break through the barriers in front of them. Even though the Dodge Ramcharger already came with a V-8 for the engine under the hood, but since the Ramcharger is a full-sized vehicle, there’s plenty of room to get bigger. Much bigger if the Dodge is only used for fun or competition, because let’s face it, the bigger and louder the engine, the better the performance and the show.
2/10 Perfect off-roader for mud pits
Front and side view of a 1986 Dodge Ramcharger
A favorite pastime of many off-road enthusiasts is blowing through deep, wet mud. Tails of mud sling in all directions as the engine revs up to its maximum revs. It is not only something designed for fun, but also for competition. The bigger and heavier the 4×4 is, the more it sinks into the mud, increasing the chance of getting stuck. Sinking to the frame and romping on the throttle may not be the best way to get out of mud, but it is by far the best way to spin tires and throw mud.
1/10 There is a third generation Ramcharger
Side view of a 2000 Dodge Ramcharger
Across Canada and the United States, the second generation of the Dodge Ramcharger was the end of the line. The last Ramcharger to roll off the assembly line was in 1993, but luckily for those south of the border in Mexico, the SUV continued through 2001, with a few model years on hold. The third generation of the Ramcharger was introduced to the Mexican market in 1999, but was finally retired in 2001. The Ramcharger was a great SUV at the time, but once the Durango became available to consumers in North America, there was no need for the bigger, bulkier Ramcharger.
Q: Is Dodge making the Ramcharger again?
The recent reintroduction of the Ford Bronco shows that it can be done, but the chances of the Dodge Ramcharger making a comeback are slim. Dodge has focused on their muscle car lineup, which has been very successful, but you never really know when trends might change and old rides resurrect.
Q: How much is a 1987 Ramcharger worth today?
There are tons of variables when discussing the value of a classic vehicle. A 1987 Dodge Ramcharger in excellent condition at auction can fetch up to $20,000, but you can also find some for as little as $6,000. The demand determines the price, so it all depends on the day and who is there to buy it.
Q: Are Dodge Ramchargers reliable?
Back when the Ramcharger was produced, it was one of the most reliable full-size SUVs on the road (or off-road in most cases). is worth the money as it will always be a reliable rig with a great reputation.
Q: Why was the Dodge Ramcharger discontinued?
The Ramcharger was a full-size SUV intended to compete against the Ford Bronco and the Chevy K-5. Unfortunately, while Dodge enthusiasts loved the rig, it just never took off in sales, so once the Durango hit the market, there was no longer any demand for a gas-guzzling full-size SUV.