Design Notes: 1994 Dodge Ram Truck
Chrysler’s design prowess seems to be cyclical. While I believe their potential is currently in full-swing, I personally feel they were lackadaisical from the late 1990s until recently. Prior to their late-90s stylistic slumber, the Chrysler Corporation (as it was named until 1998) didn’t cease to impress.
And Dodge didn’t hold back with their second-generation Ram which, almost overnight, became instantly recognizable and vastly more desirable.
A lot of ground to cover
When the 1993 model Ram (shown right) was introduced, I’m sure some people were wondering when Dodge was going to get serious about their truck design.
Compared to Dodge’s stodgy 1993 Ram, the competition looked positively modern.
Even though Ford’s 1993 F-Series truck hadn’t been completely redesigned since 1980, the 1987 and 1992 model years had been thoroughly refreshed. The newest of the bunch, General Motors’ full-sized trucks (the C/K line, or Silverado and Sierra), had been fully redesigned for the 1988 model year.
The first-generation Dodge Ram, introduced in 1981 but based on the ancient 1972 D Series, received many mechanical updates over the years but little on the order of cosmetic changes–all the way through 1993. (That’s a more-than two-decade run!)
A time for change
As early as 1986, Dodge had been working on a full-sized truck replacement.
However, unlike Chrysler’s automotive design talent that was brimming with stunning ideas, such as the work they were performing for the game-changing LH cars to be released for the 1993 model year, the truck end of things was struggling to find identity and purpose.
Take for example the concepts referred to as “Louisville Slugger.” There are actually two radically different concepts that would bear the designation.
The first one, shown left, from 1986 was a study in modular design. The intent was to use a single chassis for both full-sized trucks and vans. Although the idea was abandoned, some design cues would carry over to other concepts and even show up later on the Dakota, Dodge’s mid-sized line of trucks.
Below is the revised Louisville Slugger from late 1986 and early 1987. It looks remarkably close to the yet-to-be introduced 1992 Ford F-Series.
However, I must say that I am fond of this concept truck’s look and think that Dodge pulled the style off a bit better than Ford’s production F-Series.
Here is the front of the 1986/87 “refined” Louisville Slugger. Again, very (1992) F-Series-like but with a distinctly Dodge grill.
Even though Dodge designers were pleased with the refined Louisville Slugger’s look and proportions, there was one problem: the concept was incapable of swallowing Dodge’s all-important intercooled turbo diesel or their monstrous (in size and notoriety) 8.0-liter V-10 engine.
Hence, the Phoenix concept.
Sort of difficult to see in this reduced-size photo to the left, the Phoenix, similar in overall appearance to the refined Louisville Slugger, was designed with larger key dimensions allowing for the critical high-power engines.
However, there was another problem. By the time work was completed and final research performed in 1989, the Phoenix concept was deemed too “me too” in the appearance department. This sent designers back to the drawing board and seeking out ways to be different.
That’s where the T-300 concepts come in.