There’s no doubt that Ram trucks are popular. In fact, this past quarter, Ram was behind only Ford’s F-Series in terms of sales. But first-time buyers may have some questions. Despite the fact that the Dodge-Ram split was a decade ago, people still type ‘Dodge Ram’ into Google. Then there’s the internal terminology: what’s a 1500? 2500? Therefore, we provide a guide into what Ram 1500 means.
A Dodgy Early History
Although the first Ram pickup debuted in 1981, Dodge released a ram significantly earlier. From 1932 (some sources list 1933) until the 1950s, Dodge vehicles featured a charging ram hood ornament. The design came from sculptor Avard T. Fairbanks, who had previously designed a hood ornament from Plymouth. When the Dodge Ram went into production, then-CEO Lee Iacocca decided to resurrect the ram. Arguably, this makes the Ram brand one big throw-back.
The first-gen Dodge Ram was also not the first Dodge pickup. Although panel van conversions of Dodge Brothers vehicles popped up soon after the company was founded, the first true Dodge pickup debuted in 1925. These soon evolved into the T, V-, and W-series of trucks, culminating in the first production four-wheel-drive pickup, the 1946 Dodge Power Wagon.
Following WWII came the B-series, followed by the C-Series and the Dodge Ram’s immediate predecessor, the D-Series. Dodge’s naming convention was rather unorthodox, compared to Ford’s F-Series (F-1 was lightest, F-8 the heaviest). By 1957, however, Dodge was following Ford and GM: the C100 and D100 were half-ton, 200 were ¾-ton, and 300 were one-ton.
Then, in 1978, Dodge introduced the D150, along with the D250 and D350. Much like Ford’s 1975 F-150, the D150 was a heavy-duty version of the D100. Also, much like the F-150, the beefed-up equipment allowed the D150 to skirt the weight-based emissions requirements of the day.
When the Dodge Ram officially debuted in 1981, Dodge decided to carry over the existing designations. E.g., the Ram 150 was the half-ton option, the 250 the ¾-ton, etc. Finally, for the second-gen Dodge Ram released in 1994, Dodge added the final zero. The 150 & co. had become the 1500 & co.
No official reason for this exists, as far as can be determined. However, it is possible Dodge wanted to match what GM had done with the Silverado and Sierra. Or, as AutoInfluence suggests, the larger numbers were a marketing tool to enhance brand perception.
What Do the Ram 1500/2500/3500 Mean Today?
In short, like GM’s pickups, the 1500/2500/3500 designation doesn’t stand for any particular spec. It’s simply a way of organizing the Ram lineup by increasing payload capacity. The 1500 is the light-duty, and the 2500/3500 the heavy-duty ones. Although now separate from Dodge, Ram continues to charge ahead with its history.