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Today, automakers design pickup trucks in wind tunnels and brag about a low drag coefficient. But this was not always the case. The first generation Dodge truck to carry a Ram badge had about the same wind resistance as a brick. But its no-nonsense work truck looks and bulletproof drivetrain have endeared it to many classic truck lovers. Fans of this pickup truck lovingly call it the square body Dodge.

Did Dodge make square body trucks?

Dodge rolled out its first “Ram” pickup truck for the 1981 model year. It featured a huge, flat, crosshair grille and a square, slab-sided body. It also had rectangular headlights. Its industrial, unadorned style signaled its design as a no-frills work truck. Many classic truck fans refer to this first-gen Ram as the square body Dodge. A few fans claim that the “square body” generation actually began in 1972.

A 1990 Dodge Ram D150 pickup truck with two-tone paint, parked in front of a construction site.
1990 Dodge Ram D150 | Stellantis

Square body truck is probably a term that originally described the 1973-1987 Chevy and GMC C/K series. Ford also has its generation of square body pickups. Dodge was very much following the design trend in Detroit with its 1981 Ram pickup truck.

The 1970s Dodge pickup trucks are easy to differentiate from the later square body. They have round headlights and grid-shaped chrome grilles. That said, they also have relatively square bodies. This is why certain truck fans also use square body Dodge to refer to any pickup truck the automaker built between 1972 and 1980.

What year did Dodge stop making square body trucks?

Dodge introduced the second generation of its Ram trucks for the 1994 model year. These trucks featured a tall grille and pronounced fenders, giving them a less square body. Dodge continued building this second-generation Ram into 2002.

An advertising photo of the 1994 second generation Dodge Ram pickup truck painted blue.
1994 Dodge Ram 1500 | Stellantis

While other automakers such as Chevrolet have revisited the big-grille and flat sheet metal of the square body era, Ram never has. Every Ram redesign has been a slight variation of its more rounded second-generation truck. The automaker even continued using its signature crosshair grille until 2018.

Why are square body trucks so popular?

Many classic truck enthusiasts prefer the no-frills design of the squarer bodies popular in the 1980s. Part of their devotion might be to these drivetrains, but many also appreciate the classic styling. Some modifiers prefer the blank canvas of a truck with a simple, squared-off body.

Advertising photo of a 4x4 square body Dodge Ram truck parked under a tree, a camper unloading a cooler and lantern from its tailgate.
1990 Dodge Ram W150 | Stellantis

While square body truck is usually a phrase reserved for General Motors pickups, it can also apply to the contemporary Dodges. With the marked difference between the 1993 and 1994 Ram, if you refer to a square body Dodge, most Mopar fans will know what generation you are referring to. Some classic truck fans love Dodge square body trucks so much that they have even dedicated a Facebook fan page to them.

Beginning in 1989, Dodge offered industrial-grade Cummins turbo diesel engines in its first generation Ram trucks. The torque, fuel efficiency, and reliability of the 6BT engine has made these first-generation Cummins Rams incredibly popular. Examples with 4WD and a manual transmission command the highest resale prices, some fetching more than $20k.

Next, find out the rarest and most expensive trucks of all time or see how the first-generation Ram stacks up to other square body trucks in the video below:


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