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Southwest 4×4: 1988 Dodge Ramcharger LE

A lot of us think of the desert Southwest region of the United States as a great place to find hidden gems that haven’t been subjected to the ravages of snow and salty roads. While that can often be the case, that doesn’t mean those vehicles will be ready for the show circuit right off the bat. A case in point is this 1988 Dodge Ramcharger AW100 4×4. The seller has it listed here on eBay in beautiful Gilbert, Arizona, there is no reserve, and the current bid price is a mere $2,150.

You can see right away that this Ramcharger will need work. Or not, if the next owner just wants a tough two-door 4×4 to drive around for errands, hauling duties, or hauling dirt bikes or ATVs on a trailer to do some desert running. Being silver, it’ll be almost impossible to match that paint and I would have to paint the entire truck after fixing the body, which I would.

The “classic” Ramcharger that most of us know was made from 1974 through 1993 for the U.S. market and 1996 in Mexico. It came back in Mexico from 1999 through 2001. Is there even a two-door SUV made today? I can only think of the Bronco, and Jeep, of course, and maybe Range Rover still offers one? The driver’s door on this Ramcharger seems to be the bulk of the work needed, but there are assorted dings, and with a lot of desert vehicles, the paint is faded and missing in spots.

The big problem with desert Southwest vehicles, other than paint damage and rodent damage, is the role that the heat plays in messing up interiors and other soft parts. This Ramcharger appeared to have a dash pad at one point and it seems to have saved the padded dash so that’s great news. Seat fabric is easy and most of it looks good inside, including the perfect but dirty back seat. The rear cargo area also looks good. I would remove the seats and the carpet, and clean them while they’re out, it’s much easier. I’d add some Dynamat-type material to the floors before reinstalling the carpet. Sorry, I’m just thinking out loud and/or talking to myself, aaaaaagain. This Ramcharger has power windows and power locks, nice things to have when they’re working.

The engine is the standard 318-cu.in. OHV V8, which would have had 170 horsepower and it would have been the first year for throttle-body fuel injection, a nice feature. The seller says that it runs well but there are a few things that need help, like the AC, of course, and there’s something wrong with both the power door locks and window tracks, but those can be fixed. With no AC, the windows have to work! Hagerty is at $9,000 for a #4 fair-condition Ramcharger. Any thoughts on a value for this Ramcharger?


  1. Sean Howard

    I bought a new Ramcharger LE in 1990. Loved it…but needed more towing capacity, hence replaced it with a Ford F-350. Would’ve bought a Dodge, if they had offered a crew cab at the time.

    Still have the Ford.

    Like 1
  2. Seth

    Seats from dodge vans fit, did that to mine. Pickup truck door might work.

    Like 0
  3. Kent

    Has several thousand dollars worth of crash damage at today’s rates. Thinking it’s current bid is close to it’s true value. Would be very nice once everything is repaired and refinished. You wouldn’t have to worry about seeing another one anytime soon. Should be a solid SW vehicle when done. I concur that a P/U door should fit. Dodge saved money where they could.

    My opinion on the 318, super reliable, probably the best engine Chrysler ever built. Not really powerful, but it will get the job done. Have no experience with the throttle body fuel injection. Most of those seemed to be sorted out by the time this Ramcharger was built.
    In a way, I like this truck, if picked up cheap enough it could be worth while.

    Like 1
    • Ffred

      The 1988 was one of the most under powered of all 318 engines. I bought a new D250 318 torqueflite and 3.55 gears in ’88. It’s top speed was 85 mph period. It was a great truck ran perfect but the throttle body injection was a poor design.
      But in the overall scheme of things it’s a progression in automotive engineering over the last 100 years. Love to see where it will be a 100 years from now. If I could only live to 200 ..

      Like 1
  4. Dan

    Replace and align the driver’s door and you’ll have a decent work truck for the price of a worn Hyundai. Bidding is up to $3250. I might go to $4500 given its needs. I actually like this one more than that GMC Jimmy.

    Like 2
  5. Scotty Gilbertson Staff

    Auction update: this one sold for $6,475!

    Like 0

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