Concepts today usually deal with slightly modified series or soon series vehicles. But not so long ago, concepts meant wild ideas slammed at enthusiasts with a wink. There are many we wish manufacturers had pulled the trigger on, not the least of which is Dodge and Ram. These are our choices for the concepts we would have liked.
2002 Dodge/Ram M-80
You could say the Ram M-80 had the right size, stance and attitude to be a hit. Unfortunately, this was almost 20 years before the Ford Maverick. And soon many more, if it is their own kind. It was a simplicity that was another plus. And it took on a retro look with those huge black flairs sticking out of it
trim body. Even the yellow color had a fluorescent, more yellowish-than-yellow quality. It was promoted as a replacement for Dakota. But Chrysler had bigger fish to fry with its upcoming line of LX-platform, Hemi-powered Chrysler 300/Dodge Magnum/Charger sedans in 2004 than 2005 models.
1997 Ram Dakota Sidewinder concept
Hot rod and pro touring fans couldn’t believe that Dodge/Ram would create something like the Dakota Sidewinder. Though the sport truck craze was fading, it still encapsulated everything hot rodders love about modified vehicles. When he debuted on the SEMA Show in 1997, everyone knew he would never be considered for the production. But the desire for at least a more composed version was hoped for. Powered by a Viper V10 engine that nodded to Dakota styling cues of the production of the time, the Stepside-like design hinted at a brighter pickup truck future.
1999 Ram Power Wagon concept
For decades, the legendary Dodge Power Wagons have been characterized by robustness and aggressive looks. It was time to celebrate and hint at a possible fork of its well-received pickups. Based on the Ram 1500’s architecture, power came from a 7.2-liter six-cylinder direct-injected diesel engine. As cool as it was, and as much as it seemed to be a precursor to a future Power Wagon, nothing ever materialized, and one great opportunity was doomed. At least the 19-inch wheels were made as 17-inch versions for the 2002 Ram 1500 SLT Plus. Finally, in 2005, the Power Wagon name returned.
2000 Maxx Cab
Its semi-forward handlebar proportions, high waistline, and nickname “passenger-priority truck” made this a unique take on the burgeoning pick-up onslaught. Based on a mid-size Dakota chassis, it didn’t come across as a minivan with a bed or mother car, but as a chunky, funky truck. It predicted Chrysler Pacifica styling in 2003, but with a bed. And so the concept has served its purpose. But we wish a pickup version of the Pacifica had grown out of the concept. The idea of a more luxurious cabin, expressed in the 2019 Ram 1500, came closest to influencing production trucks.
2006 Ram Rampage concept
The MaxxCab was followed a few years later by the Ram Rampage. An attempt was also made to combine the car design with a stock Dakota front end. Although it was a four-door, it came out as a two-door, with the front doors opening conventionally and the rear doors sliding backwards similar to minivans. This resulted in wide-open access to the cabin without slamming a B-pillar into the center of the opening. It had both visual and practical benefits that should have gotten it into production. Unfortunately it shouldn’t be.