The Ram Pickup Truck Started a Revolution

The American pickup truck is the most popular vehicle on the road today. We have the iconic Ford F-150 and Honda’s Ridgeline––the unibody underdog. A pickup truck moves people and stuff in rugged style and utilitarian ease.

A photo of the 2021 Ram 1500 TRX outdoors.
Ram 1500 TRX | Ram

Today, trucks aren’t just for hard work. They have evolved into luxurious limousines. In fact, the modern pickup truck is more than it’s ever been. Do you know why? Thanks to the 1994 Dodge Ram, the truck that started a revolution, we have trucks that serve us way beyond hauling two-by-fours and sheetrock in a pickup bed.

The 2021 Ford F-150 King Ranch Truck appears at the Ford Built for America event at Ford’s Dearborn Truck Plant
2021 Ford F-150 | Nic Antaya/Getty Images

A new truck

According to Driving Line, the 1994 Dodge Ram pickup truck brought its A-game to the segment and started a revolution that changed trucks forever. Back then, Dodge Ram truck models were sold under Chrysler. Chrysler wasn’t exactly doing so hot back then. The Dodge Ram parent company needed success in its truck division.

Two Dodge Ram banners hung up at an auto show.
Dodge Ram | Raymond Boyd/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

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Thanks to designer Phillip E. Payne and executive Bob Lutz, more focus was put on the Dodge Ram project. Rather than producing a truck that just existed in the segment following leaders like the Ford F-150, Payne and Lutz got a team together and decided to change things. However, the road to truck success isn’t all smooth pavement and clean straight lines.

First, the team had to scrap ‘Phoenix.’ This was the company’s current idea for the new truck’s design. Payne knew he could do a lot better than what the company was already working on. But in order to move forward with the new project they’d have to start from ground zero.

The 1994 Dodge Ram pickup truck

The all-new 1994 Dodge Ram pickup truck pulled inspiration from the Studebaker Transtar of the 1950s. It emerged big and bulky with a little nod to big rigs. The truck looked tough and ready for work. The effect this new design had on the industry is still affecting truck design today.

1994 Dodge Ram Pickup
1994 Dodge Ram Pickup | FCA

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After the reveal, sales tripled for the Dodge Ram pickup truck. The first rear-hinged door for the double cab came about on the Dodge Ram in 1998. In fact, this became the industry standard. After its initial success sales continued to climb. Other automakers began leaning more toward a larger, more bulky design. The new truck with its massive doors and cavernous cab gave other trucks new goals.

A design revolution

Not only did the actual look of the design have a huge impact on the industry, but the implementation of that design as well. Rather than using clay, the design team for the new Dodge Ram pickup truck did everything on a computer. Then, they translated to work directly into a steel mold. In spite of being told it wouldn’t work, they executed the production that way for the first time ever in automotive history.

When the design worked and the production of the new pickup truck went smoothly, it sent waves through the world of auto design. The Dodge Ram pickup truck started a revolution. Today, we still see its influence in both the aesthetics and implementation of design and production. The Ram Trucks brand now stands alone, but it wouldn’t be what it is if not for the 1994 predecessor.