Concepts today delve mostly into slightly modified production or soon-to-be production vehicles. But not that long ago, concepts meant wild ideas slammed at enthusiasts with a wink. There are many we wish manufacturers had pulled the trigger on, not the least of which came from Dodge and Ram. These are our choices for the concepts we wish had happened.
2002 Dodge/Ram M-80
You could say the Ram M-80 had the right size, stance, and attitude to be a hit. Unfortunately, this was almost 20 years before the Ford Maverick. And soon-to-be many more if its ilk. There was a simplicity about it that was another plus. And it took on a retro look with those giant black flairs jutting out from the
trim body. Even the yellow paint had a fluorescent, yellower-than-yellow quality. It was promoted as Dakota’s replacement. But Chrysler had bigger fish to fry with its upcoming line of LX platform, Hemi-powered Chrysler 300/Dodge Magnum/Charger sedans in 2004 as 2005 models.
1997 Ram Dakota Sidewinder concept
Hot rod and pro-touring fans couldn’t believe that Dodge/Ram would create something like the Dakota Sidewinder. Though the sport truck craze was slowly evaporating, it still applied everything hot rodders love about modified vehicles. Debuting at the 1997 SEMA Show, everyone knew it would never even be considered for production. But the wish for at least a more composed version was hoped for. Powered by a Viper V10 engine, hinting at then-production Dakota styling cues, the stepside-like design pointed to a brighter pickup future.
1999 Ram Power Wagon concept
For decades, the iconic Dodge Power Wagons have stood out for ruggedness and aggressive looks. It was time to celebrate that and hint at a possible spin-off of its well-received pickups. Based on Ram 1500 architecture, the power came from a 7.2-liter diesel direct-injection six-cylinder engine. As cool as it was and as much it seemed to be a precursor to a future Power Wagon, nothing ever materialized, and a great opportunity was left moribund. At least the 19-inch wheels found production as 17-inch versions for the 2002 Ram 1500 SLT Plus. Eventually, the Power Wagon name returned in 2005.
Its semi-forward control proportions, high beltline, and “passenger priority truck” moniker, made this a unique take on the burgeoning pickup truck onslaught. Based on a midsize Dakota chassis, it came off not as a minivan with a bed, or mom-car, but as a chunky, funky truck. It foretold Chrysler Pacifica styling in 2003 but with a bed. And with that, the concept served its purpose. But we wish a pickup version of the Pacifica had resulted from the concept. The closest it came to influencing production trucks is the idea of a more luxurious cabin, exemplified in the 2019 Ram 1500.
2006 Ram Rampage concept
On the heels of the MaxxCab came the Ram Rampage a few years later. It also tried to blend car styling with a production Dakota front end. Though a four-door, it came off as a two-door, with the front doors opening conventionally, the rears sliding back similar to minivans. This resulted in wide-open access to the cabin without a B-pillar bonked into the middle of the opening. It had both visual and practical advantages that should have launched it into production. Unfortunately, it was not to be.