Extinct Beast: 1987 Dodge Ramcharger

This here’s a true dinosaur, a two-door, body on frame, truck-based SUV. This is the type of truck that arguably put the “sport” in sport utility vehicle, conceived as a strictly utilitarian workhorse just barely more refined than the Jeep in the early ’60s (the International Scout), then re-cast as a go-anywhere recreational sportster with the introductions of the Ford Bronco (1966), Chevy Blazer/GMC Jimmy twins (1969), and the first-generation Dodge Ramcharger and its Plymouth Trailduster sibling (1974). All of these were half-pickup, half-convertible, with removable tops and optional rear seats; although the Ramcharger was the last to enter the fray, it was the first to make a major evolutionary step when its second generation, introduced in 1981, ditched the unwieldy removable top to become a true wagon, complete with the segment’s only rear liftgate. Always less popular than the Bronco or Blazer, a Ramcharger as nice as this 79,000-mile example is an exceptionally rare sight; it’s up to you if that rarity is worth the selling dealer’s $25,995 asking price. If you think so, you can find it listed on eBay out of Lutz, Florida.

If this Ramcharger is a dinosaur, it must be one of the meat-eating kinds that ate other dinosaurs, because its 360-cubic inch V8 sucks down a lot of dinosaur juice—9 MPG city, 11 highway, according to the original window sticker. Speaking of the sticker, I can’t make out the original selling price, but it would have been nearly half the current ask. A base ’87 Ramcharger 100 with four-wheel drive stickered for $13,538; this one’s the uplevel 150 LE model with the larger optional engine, so it probably would have been in the neighborhood of $15K new.

The LE kit includes power windows and locks, air conditioning, carpet, a center console, and other niceties, but unlike the uplevel versions of the Bronco and Blazer—which were admittedly more expensive than the Ramcharger—I was a little surprised to see vinyl instead of plush cloth in this truck, especially given the added refinement suggested by its wagon bodystyle. That’s not a gearshift you see sprouting from the driveshaft tunnel, but the two-speed transfer case for the part-time four-wheel drive system. Try explaining that to drivers of today’s Dodge “SUVs” (read: crossovers), the Journey and Durango.

The Ramcharger would be joined in wagon-dom by the Blazer in 1992, pointing the way to the SUV’s less carefree, more family-friendly future, but it was gone by ’94, followed by the Bronco, which never lost its removable rear roof section, in ’96 and the two-door Tahoe, née Blazer, in 1999. The segment that these vehicles helped create and popularize had evolved in a different direction, and I doubt we’ll see their like again. The asking price is very high—I’ll leave it to you to decide if it’s too high—but this is a great example of a pioneering big SUV is well worth preserving.

Fast Finds

Comments

  1. Miguel

    Where I am the majority of these Ramchargers are use for parts for pick ups because nobody will buy one of these.

    For a nice one, they go for around $1500.00 US.

    That asking price is crazy.

    • JohnD

      Where can I find a nice one like this for $1500? I’ll take 2!

      Like 2
  2. Vin in NJ

    Seller is a dealer with locations in Charlotte NC, Dallas/Fort Worth TX, Atlanta GA, Tampa FL & Nashville TN. His prices seem high on most of his e-bay auctions. Guess that’s why he has such a large collection. Nobody’s buying.

  3. John D.

    Being in snow country, I always figure almost any 4 wheel drive was worth $1500 if I could put into and take it out of 4 wheel drive high and low speed without problems. Generally, I could wholesale my way out or if the air worked and it wasn’t too ratty, I could retail it.

  4. Carnutdallas

    Here is mine at half the price with a cooler motor, although I would ask that if mine did not have some hail. And I am very negotiable 😁

    • Miguel

      Spider Truck, Spider Truck, does whatever a Spider Truck does…

    • Sam

      But is it Walker Texas Ranger approved? There was a cheesey Chuck Norris movie where he drove one of these out of a grave.

      • JimH

        Lone Wolf McQuade.

  5. Carnutdallas

    Dang it upside down 😩

    • Chebby

      Australian model.

      Like 1
  6. Newtown Jack

    My base model ’88 had cloth on the 2 seating surfaces and vinyl on the rest of the seats. Ramchargers had more leg room, head room, and storage space than either the Bronco or the Blazer. Mine lasted 10 years & a quarter million miles.

  7. Dogfather

    I owned an 85 Dodge truck. It ran like crap from day one due to the distributor being right next to the firewall.Any dampness or rain might set it off running rough or not starting at all. Took it to several mechanics and not one could ever get it right.Plus a pesky carburetor that would not stay running in winter until sufficiently warmed up.Twenty five grand for a similar truck? Not interested

    • Troy S.

      Sounds like my ’87 half ton Dodge, worst vehicle I ever owned, plus the 318 2 barrel was a white knuckles affair trying to merge into faster traffic.YUCK.

    • Jim peterson

      You know what else has a firewall hugging distributor…every small block chevy,been driving dodges for 30 years with minimal problems

  8. KevinR

    As soon as I saw the floor, I knew it was from Streetside. I have yet to see a car of theirs that was reasonably priced. This one is no different.

    Too bad; this one appears to be one of the nicer ones I’ve seen in a while.

  9. Guggie 13

    I had one just like this but cloth seats , drove it for 9 years ,plowed snow , pulled campers, boats (one was 30 ft) and any thing else . Biggest expense was gas 10 in town 15 on road , otherwise bullet proof ,always looking for another one but this one is a little pricey !

  10. Rustytech Member

    I loved these then, and I love them today. It’s hard to find one here that’s not rusted beyond repair, but $25k+? I think there are some nice ones out there for 1/2 that.

  11. John H from CT

    I believe Streetside is just a consigner so they don’t own inventory, so no carrying costs. They show your vehicle and if they sell it they take a generous cut. If I’m correct, many of their cars are priced high based on delusional owner expectations.

  12. Oscar

    I have one that’s four wheel drive but my reverse doesn’t work and I don’t know what to do with it

    • Dave Wright

      aamco…….

  13. Kris

    My first vehicle was a ’86 ramcharger with a 6inch lift. Absolutely loved that vehicle but hated the gas mileage. So many good memories in that beast. I named it Lilrammy

  14. Rodney

    As a sales manager at Dodge store I drove these as demo’s. Loved driving them but 6 MPG was not unusual.

  15. gene

    Hope they find a buyer, I just inherited an ’86 with 48,000 miles, cloth seat tops, wind up windows, off road and tow package and no rust

  16. Jamhess Member

    My son, who was in the USMC at the time had one 87 I believe, replaced the windshield 2-3 times as the passenger would flop the seat forward and break it.
    I had a 86 Van, never ran right same as his Ramcharger.

  17. Dave Wright

    The curved rear side windows are very cool…….probably until you need to replace one………none of these short 4X4’s ride well…..better with a long wheelbase pickup. Is this Barn Finds?

  18. Tailgate Jeff

    This vehicle was at the Mecum auction in Harrisburg earlier this month.

    Bidding stalled at $19,000 with the reserve not met.

  19. Dallas Doug

    I have inherited an 87 exact as the one pictured that has been garaged for last 10 years only ding on it is where a trailer came loose and put a ding in the back bumper. all original. The interior is nicer than my 2016 chevy pickup. What would a mint condition 100K mile dodge ramcharger go for? Im debating keeping it for a hunting vehicle.

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