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The 2nd Gen Cummins powered Ram spent far too long in the shadow of its square body big brother: the infamous 1st gen. Long considered the budget alternative classic Dodge, it is now building a solid following.

What model is a 2nd Gen Cummins?

Dodge introduced its 1st generation of Ram trucks in 1981, then added a 5.9-liter Cummins I6 engine option in 1989. It rolled out its 2nd gen Ram truck in 1994 and built it through 2002. So “2nd Gen Cummins” means a 94-02 Dodge Ram 2500 or 3500 equipped with a Cummins I6.

Beige 2000 Dodge Ram 2nd Gen truck with a Cummins diesel engine parked in front of a green mountain for a publicity photo.
2000 Dodge Ram 2500 Quad Cab | Stellantis

You may also hear Dodge fans refer to a 2nd Gen Ram. This also means the 1994 through 2002 body style. But obviously, not all 2nd Gen Ram trucks have a Cummins engine.

‘2nd Gen’ can refer to a gasoline or a diesel because the 81-93 generation of Dodge trucks was the first generation with the Ram name and the also the first with the Cummins engine option.

The Doge brothers began putting their name on trucks way back in 1918. But it wasn’t until 1981 that Dodge named its pickup truck lineup the “Ram” series. Then in 2010, Chrysler Corporation split Dodge and Ram into sister brands, though the two still share technology and even some factories.

Is a 12V or 24V Cummins better?

The original 5.9-liter Cummins I6 had two valves per cylinder, 12 in total. It is prized for its simplicity and durability. In 1998, Dodge swapped to a 24-valve version of the same engine for more power. Though technically more complex, the 24V Cummins is still a simple, reliable engine–especially by modern standards.

Red 2nd Gen Cummins Dodge Ram 3500 parked beneath a bridge for a publicity photo.
1996 Dodge Ram 3500 | Stellantis

There are a couple of benefits to a 24V Cummins. The first one is a slight power increase. Another benefit is the fact that you can tune it for even more power by tuning the computer that controls the engine.

Some classic Cummins fans still prefer the simplicity of the 12V Cummins engines. And to be fair, they do have fewer moving parts, so they are easier to rebuild and may last slightly longer. Not all 12V Cummins engines installed in Ram trucks are the same. One major upgrade was Ram’s addition of an intercooler in 1991.

Is the 2nd Gen Cummins a classic?

The 1st Gen Cummins powered Ram truck has an iconic, square body style. These trucks are rapidly becoming collectors’ items. The 2nd Gen Cummins Rams have a more rounded, modern body style. But certain enthusiasts prize 2nd Gen Cummins as classics too.

Black 1998 Dodge Ram pickup truck with its rear-hinged clamshell doors open to show off its quad cab rear seat.
1998 Dodge Ram Quad Cab | Wieck Photo Database via Getty Images

The price of used 1st Gen Cummins Ram trucks is rapidly approaching the price of entry-level new pickup trucks. It’s unsurprising that classic diesel truck enthusiasts seeking a reliable 12V Cummins engine have begun buying up 2nd Gen Cummins Ram trucks.

Because these trucks are available in more configurations, buyers who need four doors may actually prefer them. Dodge introduced a quad cab with rear-hinged clamshell doors in 1998.

The 2nd Gen Cummins may not be universally considered a classic, but with its value on the rise it’s only a matter of time. Like all Radwood era (80s and 90s) vehicles, it is appreciating quickly as a new generation seeks it out to restore or just drive.

Next, learn what’s high mileage for Cummins or see whether a 2nd Gen Cummins is a good investment in the video below:

See another 2nd Gen Cummins in this final video: