Mighty Dodge: 1988 Dodge Ram 50

Captive imports seemed to be all the rage in the 1970s and 80s as US automakers were scrambling to meet EPA regulations. This 1988 Dodge Ram 50 pickup is one of those, being a rebadged Mitsubishi Triton, similar to the Mitsubishi Mighty Max. Confusing. This one is located in Eagen, Minnesota and it can be found here on craigslist. The asking price is $3,300.

As the owner of an 8-year older version of this truck I’m a big fan of these things. I can’t imagine driving one in a Minnesota winter and hopefully this one hasn’t been driven in the salt too much, but a year is probably more than enough. The seller says that they have “been using it as my winter vehicle and I haven’t had a single issue.”

It isn’t perfect but it looks pretty nice. I’d bumper thing thing up asap, I do not understand the rear-bumperless pickup trend. NADA has $2,775 listed for an average retail value and $3,675 for a high retail value. This Ram 50 is priced about halfway in-between those two numbers. There are no interior photos of this truck at all which is supremely disappointing. I can check it out for anyone who may be interested in it.

The driving lights are a very nice addition, I have to get a set of those. The seller says that this “was originally from Wisconsin and was used as a farm vehicle and it’s completely stock.” 1987 was the first year for the redesigned Ram 50 and Mighty Max. The seller just “had all the fluids and tires replaced, also will get new brake pads and exhaust installed within next few days. I currently use this truck as my daily driver so the miles will go up.”

I could only dream of having an engine this nice in my 1980 D-50 pickup. Mine was converted to a Weber carb so it doesn’t look stock anymore and this Ram 50 looks as clean as any that I have ever seen. This is Mitsubishi’s 4G54 2.6L inline-four that should have had around 105 hp. This one “starts, runs and stops really well, it is 2wd and gets very nice mpg. Just had all the fluids and tires replaced, also will get new brake pads and exhaust installed within next few days.” This looks like another nice truck, hopefully someone outside of the rust belt can snag it before it’s too late!

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  1. Joe D.

    The only new vehicle I’ve ever purchased was a ’90 D50 4X4. I loved that truck!!! Had a blast off road (nothing extreme) and in the snow.

  2. eggsalad

    WRT “the bumperless thing”… Cheap trucks, domestic or import, didn’t come with rear bumpers from the factory as standard equipment, not until sometime in the late 80s. Dealers were happy to install an aftermarket bumper if the buyer wanted, because that meant more profit than the dealer would make on a factory-optional bumper.

    So this is not a truck where some PO removed the bumper – it just came without one.

    • Charles G. Van De Sampel

      Bumper-less Dodge trucks were still being sold as late as 1987 when I was looking at a new 1987 Dakota. While that Dakota held a price tag of $12,965 without the $383 rear bumper ( I still have the paperwork from the credit union), I went and purchased a 1987 Toyota with a 22R, backed by a 4 spd. AND IT CAME WITH A BUMPER. For $7,365. I kept and drove that truck for 23 years before having to scrap it out.

  3. JohnM

    Had one for awhile ages ago. Great little trucks. We used to jokingly call it the Lamb. I miss the days when you could choose from a half dozen trucks this size. Also had an ’89 S10 with the 4.3/5 speed combo after the Lamb rusted out. Another great truck. My current farm truck is a ’95 F250 which of course dwarfs the Lamb and S10. Not sure I’ll ever get anything newer than that. It’s crazy how small that 250 looks next to modern trucks.

  4. Fred W.

    Had an ’89 Mighty Max, loaded with chrome bumpers and air. Very nice dependable truck. These little trucks were very practical and by this time were getting quieter and smoother riding than previously. Excellent mileage also.

  5. Rube Goldberg

    Being a resident of Wisconsin for almost 63 years, I find it VERY hard to believe this is a Wisconsin truck, and if it is, it sat in a garage and had 10K miles on it. Their idea of a “farm truck” differs greatly from mine. ( believe me, I know what a “farm truck ” is and it doesn’t look like this) It looks like something you’d see out west here. I’d love to have it. More than likely, my next vehicle will be one of these.

  6. David

    I wish just one car manufacturer would see the light and produce a basic lower cost pick up again. They could only be “more-better” haha. than those of the past, all disc brakes, a/c , transmission choices, aluminum bodies. Idealistic thinking like this can cast you to a corner though.

    • Rube Goldberg

      You wouldn’t be the only one in that corner. Like I say, my next, and probably last vehicle, will be one of these. I’m sure we’re not the only ones that don’t care for variable suspension control and heated/cooled cup holders on new trucks,,,pfft, trucks today, more like cars with a pickup box.

      • David

        Right on Rube. All my pick ups have crank windows; the newer one too. However if it were less expensive today to have standard power window so be it. I’d buy a new 18k gem if it were available.

    • SubGothius

      We have CAFE standards to blame for the disappearance of compact pickups like this from the US market:

    • Erica

      10-4 on that, in an effort to create a modest little practical pickup, new, I went with a base Tacoma, 4wd 4 cylinder 5 spd…still the financing was home mortgage like ($24.5k). Can’t believe how much people have invested, and depreciating, in their vehicles.

  7. Rick Rothermel

    Had the Mighty Max variant. Keep a supply of timing belts handy, you’ll probably need them.

    • SubGothius

      This has the 2.6 with a timing chain, no belt. Also eerily smooth and quiet with the balance shafts; I can hardly tell the engine’s running in mine when I’ve got the radio on at a decent listening volume.

  8. Gay Seattle Car Nut

    I was too young to drive at the time. But I remember when the compact truck was on the U.S. market.

  9. Gary D. Oliver

    I bought this 91 Ram 50 last summer. Great little truck with AC and automatic transmission. Gets 25 mpg regularly. Just love the convenience of a little truck like this. Painted wheels black, installed beauty rings and chrome lug nuts for a little aesthetic value.


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