Dodge Ram Van

The Dodge Ram Van was a full-size van marketed under the Dodge brand by the Chrysler Corporation and later DaimlerChrysler. The Ram Van, which was a cargo van, was also available in a passenger van version known as the Dodge Ram Wagon.

Built on the B platform (later AB), the full-size vans entered production for the 1971 model year. At the time, the cargo vans were marketed as the Dodge Tradesman and the passenger vans were called the Dodge Sportsman. The Ram nameplate replaced both previous names in 1980. Due to a body-on-frame design, the Dodge platform was lighter and stronger than the competition, at the expense of NVH. Despite this unibody design, the B-series van was popular for cab-over motorhome conversion until Chrysler Corporation's egress from that market during their bankruptcy proceedings in the 1970s.

All generations of the B-series van feature similar construction, with only small variation from era to era. The most pronounced changes were to the front fenders, hood, grille, and bumpers, which tended to follow their full-size truck counterparts in each era. Additionally, the first generation's side door was mounted back several inches, using a fixed panel between the passenger's side front door and the side door, allowing for more access to the side door without interfering with the front passenger's seat. This panel was eliminated in 1978 which was a transitional year for the B-series van. Similar construction for the entire 32 years of production made the Dodge Van very popular with upbuilders, service companies, and other fleets due to the compatibility of installable options from year to year without necessitating a redesign.

The B-series van was available with nearly every engine used in a rear wheel drive Chrysler product during its production. Six cylinder engines included the 225 in³ Slant Six (1971-1987), the 3.9 L LA V6 (1988-1991), and the 3.9 L Magnum V6 (1992-2003). Small-block V8 engines included the LA-series 318 (1971-1991), 360 in³ (1972-1992), the Magnum 5.2 L (1992-2003), and the Magnum 5.9 L (1993-2003). Big-block V8 engines included the 400 in³ (1976-1980) and the 440 in³ (1976-1980). Certain model years came with an optional 5.2 liter engine utilizing Compressed Natural Gas, with a range of up to 300 miles on a full tank, and CNG-powered Ram Vans were classified as an Ultra Low Emission Vehicle in 1999.

In the late 1970s, Chrysler marketed the Dodge Ram Van in their lineup of "Adult Toys", along with the Dodge Warlock, Dodge Lil' Red Express Truck, and Dodge Macho Ramcharger and Dodge Macho Power Wagon.

Plymouth received a rebadged variant of the Sportsman, called the Voyager for the 1974 model year. While never as popular as the Dodge version, Plymouth marketed the Voyager in this format through 1983, after which the nameplate was transferred to the new minivan that was introduced for 1984 as a rebadged Dodge Caravan.

Dodge was (and still is, if one counts the Dodge Sprinter) the last of the four major full-size van makers to market a short-wheelbase van and passenger wagon. Ford, Chevrolet and GMC took their shortest full-size vans off the market early in the 1990s.

DaimlerChrysler discontinued production of the Ram Van and Ram Wagon after the 2003 model year, replacing them with the Dodge Sprinter.

References in popular culture

  • The character Red Green of The Red Green Show owned a first-generation Dodge Ram Van, nicknamed The Possum Van.
  • The World Famous Bang Bus is a 1998 Dodge Ram Van.
  • Dewey Finn (played by Jack Black) drove a Dodge Ram Van in School of Rock
  • Rocky Balboa drives a second-generation Dodge Ram Van Cargo in Rocky Balboa.

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