Trucks & SUVs

The Dodge Ramcharger Could Never Quite Compete With the Ford Bronco

The Dodge Ramcharger was one of many classic SUVs from the ’70s and ’80s that appealed to many off-roaders of that time period. It wasn’t the only full-size on the market, though. One of its biggest competitors was another classic icon from a time gone by. The Ford Bronco, a staple in the SUV market for many years, went toe to toe with the Ramcharger.

Dodge built a great SUV, but it just couldn’t compete with the likes of the Bronco. Here, we’ll explore a little about the history of both the Bronco and the Ramcharger and see why Dodge couldn’t match Ford when it came to the full-size SUV. Jalopnik looks at both icons and what each offered.

History of the Dodge Ramcharger

Dodge rolled off its newest creation, the Ramcharger, from the production line in 1974. This full-size Sports utility vehicle was a 2-wheel-drive dream, fashioned after a 4×4 pickup. Dodge built it as a direct competitor to the Chevy Blazer, designing it to emulate a shorter truck.

In the end, it still paved the way for two-door SUVs, meant for rugged play in off-roading adventures. Dodge deliberately cut out any notion of a 4-door version to make it more unique and appealing to its following.

From 1974 to 1980, the Ramcharger came without a roof. They used either a dealer placed vinyl top or a removable steel roof. To access the inside of the vehicle, you would enter through two half-doors, which later would change to more full-size pickup doors.

Dodge truly had an iconic outdoorsy off-roading vehicle on their hands. However, all good things must end, apparently, because the Ramcharger stopped selling in the United States in 1993, but continued production in Mexico for a while after that.

An overview of the Ford Bronco

CJPonyParts.com reported that the Ford Bronco started production in 1966 from a design that Lee Iacocca and Donald Frey created together. This SUV was Ford’s answer to the competitive sports utility market dominated, at one time, by the Jeep CJ-5.

Ford’s Bronco had three body styles to choose from, initially. They sold a half-cab version, a station wagon, and a roadster which was the first to go off the production line in 1968. The half-cab sold for about six years, but the design looked more like a mini-sized pickup or baby version of a truck, so it left the market in 1972. The station wagon became the style we saw for many years after that.

The Ford Bronco was a jack-of-all-trades type of SUV that we would like more of today. The earlier versions offered many accessories that you could add on to your purchase. Your options included a post hole digger, winch, and even a snowplow attachment.

Ford sold thousands of units in the beginning, including 1974, which was their most popular year. They raked in sales for 26,000 of these vehicles that year, but after that, sales declined.

Chevy also competed with their Blazer during that time, and because of the design of their SUV, they could offer many engine options and transmission choices, which Ford’s Bronco had a tough time competing with. Production finally ended for the Bronco in 1996, after declining sales.

Why the Dodge Ramcharger couldn’t quite compete with the Ford Bronco

The Dodge Ramcharger was an impressive SUV, for sure, but it never could quite compete with Ford Bronco. By the time the Ramcharger came off the production line, in 1974, Ford had already produced eight years worth of the Bronco SUVs, so they had a leg up, so to speak, on Dodge.

Ford knew the market well, and they had some pretty impressive years for sales, 1974 being one of them. Dodge was the newcomer that year, but it held its own fairly well, considering.

However, the biggest competitor for Ford was Chevy’s Blazer, which had Ford’s design team scrambling to think up ways to gain control of the off-roading SUV market. Dodge had to compete against both Ford and Chevy, which was not an easy feat, considering both had produced their units a few years before Dodge even came onto the scene.

The Dodge Ramcharger’s demise was pretty silent. The return of the Ram pickup took precedence for those last few years. Sales declined and Dodge needed to focus on the upcoming Ram truck release, so very few Ramchargers got produced in 1993. By the time the 1994 season came around, the Ramcharger SUV disappeared altogether from their line up, replaced by the Ram truck. 

Dodge Ramcharger and the Ford Bronco were giants in the ’70s and ’80s. SUVs were an off-roading pleasure and family vehicle was a phrase unheard of in the SUV market until the ’90s came around.

While Dodge tried hard to compete with the Bronco, they just couldn’t quite meet them on their playing field. However, the Ramcharger was still a decent SUV in its own right. Maybe it should make a comeback like Ford’s Bronco is planning.