Falling (Back) in Love With a Ram 1500 from Craigslist

Illustration by Derek BaconCar or truck and Driver

From the November 2021 concern of Auto and Driver.

I constantly considered my midlife disaster would entail an IROC. Or probably a Saab 9000 Turbo, or a two-door Jeep Cherokee—the cooler cars and trucks from my formative driving years. But apparently, buried deep in my psyche is a need to revisit one particular of the much less charismatic machines of my teenage everyday living, the wintertime beater that beat you back again: the Huge Dodge Ram.

The BDR was my dad’s truck, but I drove it in the winter. Which, in Maine, intended typically. It was an ’87, two-wheel travel, with a feeble 95-hp Slant-6 and a four-speed. Right after the engine seized on my way to college, I questioned the seller whether the guarantee would protect an up grade to a V-8. That was a no, most likely since it would trigger everyone with a Slant-6 and a 7/70 warranty to fill their crankcase with Mr. Pibb in a quest to rating a 318.

So, what did I just get? A Ram, of course—a 2003 typical-taxi short bed with a guide transmission. It seats 3, just like a McLaren F1. It is also four-wheel drive with a 4.7-liter V-8. You could be thinking, “I didn’t know they made them like that.” Neither did I, until eventually I noticed the Craigslist advert. It truly is like a Ram SRT-10 with four-wheel generate and 50 % the ability. All right, considerably less than half the power. But it has throttle-by-wire and pyrotechnic seatbelt pretensioners, which I know simply because I’m now geeked on 3rd-gen Rams. A hydroformed body? Search at you embracing the future, early-2000s DaimlerChrysler.

When I showed up at the seller’s property, he told me that he bought it from his pal, who was the original owner and experienced to order it, simply because no supplier would voluntarily stock these kinds of a thing. The clear-coat is peeling, the stereo is useless, and the warmth and A/C work only with the fan on superior. That is ideal: It has air conditioning! And a vinyl flooring. And cruise manage. And manual windows and door locks. Just a freak specification, this matter. I questioned whether the cruise regulate labored. “I do not know,” the owner mentioned. “I in no way tried it.” He also pointed out that you can drive-get started it if you pop the clutch in 2nd gear. I did not request how he realized 2nd was greatest for that. I just handed more than the revenue and headed residence in Large Dodge Ram, Portion 2. The cruise regulate worked.

A few days later on, I swapped in a new head device and got the stereo going. A handful of days soon after that, I wired in a run subwoofer. I looked up all the performance mods for the 4.7 V-8, which did not acquire extensive because there usually are not any. On the other hand, like its 1987 ancestor, the Ram has a amazingly great experience. Or, I must say, unsurprisingly, specified its limber 8.5 inches of suspension journey. I advised you, I am geeking out. Did you know that at 207.7 inches, a 2003 Ram frequent taxi with the quick bed is in fact 4.6 inches shorter than a present-day Toyota Tacoma double taxi? Hey, come back again here.

I have had the Ram for about a 7 days, and I’m loving it. My young ones have realized how to roll down a window utilizing arm power, and my spouse has uncovered truck bench-seat etiquette—I told her she has to experience in the center or persons will think we are preventing. She replied that if she has to ride in the center, that is a self-fulfilling prophecy.

And I recognized that I’d somehow hardly ever owned a pickup truck. Folks, I see what all the fuss is about. You can just toss stuff in the mattress, even if that stuff is dirty. Hell, the stuff can be genuine dust! Close friends tell me I will need a decal of Calvin peeing on a Chevy logo, but I you should not comprehend what a 16th­­-century theologian has to do with domestic-truck rivalries or even wherever you’d order these types of a thing.

I’ve very long preserved that a midlife-crisis car or truck should really be an improvement on the sensation you’re attempting to recapture, an upgrade somewhat than a clone. And I was correct. Now, whenever I want, I can go outdoors, change the crucial, and affirm that the ol’ Large Dodge Ram was essentially pleasurable. But it would’ve been a whole lot cooler with a V-8.

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