If you are into SUVs, this classic will blow your mind!

Old SUVs, for some reason, are all the rage right now. People are going back in time and are looking to lay their hands on classics like the Wagoneers, Broncos, LandCruisers, etc. The Dodge RamCharger is also one among them and is one of the most sought-after SUVs today. The Dodge RamCharger was originally launched in 1974. It was based on the much larger Dodge D-Series. The SUV was a hit and went through two different generations, spanning almost two decades. A third generation was built in Mexico at the turn of the millennium, but lasted just two years before disappearing into oblivion.

Exterior

  • Creme and Gold body shade was the most popular choice
  • Chrome runs in Dodge’s blood
  • Steel bumpers
  • Square headlamps look swell on the boxy body
  • The spaceship kind-of rear passenger glass is attention-seeking
  • Waffle, or egg-crate grille design suits the SUV’s personality
  • Wing mirrors have a crazy setup
1985 Dodge RamCharger
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The 1985 Dodge RamCharger looks nothing like the models Dodge or Ram produces today. But one thing that is still carried over is the usage of chrome. Upfront, the SUV wears a long hood and a flat face.

The square headlights and indicator lamps are housed in a rectangle frame that complements the boxy look of the SUV.

The grille looks like a waffle, and despite being quite big, it does not overshadow other aspects of the aesthetics. Perhaps, BMW and Lexus need to learn something from Grandpa Dodge. The bumper is a steel unit that looks quite classy for a vehicle from the past. In my opinion, this is the perfect example of a vehicle that has aged gracefully.

Move to the side and you will realize that the despite having a long hood, the rear overhang is much longer. This is because of the way the tires are placed and looks kind of odd at first glance. The sqaure-ish wheel arches are surrounded by thin chrome strips. The fender wears an oversized ’RAMCHARGER’ badge and side indicator lamp in between the tire and the bumper. Since it’s a two-door vehicle, Ram has installed huge tinted glass on sides for the rear passengers that cannot be opened. It looks classy from the outside, but is surely not practical for the passengers. The wing mirrors look like a satellite attached to the door, and of course, is manually adjustable.

1985 Dodge RamCharger
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Although Dodge has not carried over the design philosophy from the past, it sure did not change how it used to design the taillights. The setup is similar on its trucks even today. The massive rear windshield also opens along with the boot, thus making enough space for you to fit in a surfboard or a cycle with utmost ease. The right side of the boot is slapped with a DODGERAM badge. The bumper is a steel unit, just like the front, and is also where the number plate is placed.

Interior

  • No touchscreen system, auto headlamps, etc.
  • Gear lever installed in the steering column
  • Wood inserts in plenty
  • No adjustable headrests
  • Plenty of space and light all around the cabin
  • Beige theme was not a practical choice
1985 Dodge RamCharger
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Step inside the 1985 Dodge RamCharger and you will be welcomed to a rather minimalist cabin that's nowhere near what we are used to seeing today.

For its time, the RamCharger had a rather modern cabin. You can spot stuff like cupholders, individual armrests, a lockable dash, etc. The cabin carried a beige theme all around. A simple, three-spoke steering wheel pokes out of the instrument cluster that features wood inserts. Three dials behind the steering column feature the speedometer, fuel gauge, and the temperature gauge.

The seats are dressed in fabric in the seat base and the backrest, whereas the other parts wear a beige material similar to leatherette. The floor is also carpeted in beige, which sure requires a lot of maintenance. The gear lever sticks out of the steering column, thus freeing up space at the bottom. The doors come with large door handles and wood inserts as well. As is the case with any SUV, there is no dearth of space anywhere inside the cabin. The seats are supremely comfortable, but do not feature adjustable headrests. These integrated pieces are part of the seats and feel slightly on the shorter side. But we used to be less picky back then, so not a problem!

Drivetrain

  • 5.9-liter, V-8 engine
  • 193 horsepower
  • 285 pound-feet of torque
  • Mated to a three-speed automatic gearbox
  • Available in all-wheel drive, as well as four-wheel-drive systems
1985 Dodge RamCharger
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Dodge experimented a lot with the mechanicals and drivetrain options on the RamCharger throughout its life. Models from 1981 to the 1987 came with carburetors, unlike the succeeding models that featured throttle-body fuel injection system. In the first gen, all RamChargers featured all-wheel drive system as standard. All of them came with Dana 44 axles that had no provision for locking hubs and had a front wheel bearing design that had a knack for being notorious, therefore deeming it to be less reliable. Dodge switched to a slightly different, yet dubious setup in 1979, wherein the front Dana 44 axle was equipped with a more conventional front wheel bearing design and automatic locking hubs.

In the second-gen, however, Dodge started offering part-time, four-wheel-drive systems along with all-wheel drive models.

The models post 1984, including the one we are reviewing now, came with a Center Axle Disconnect version. This setup was vacuum-triggered by a switch on the transfer case, and it also powered by engine vacuum. However, this also did not carry a good reputation as the vacuum switch on the transfer case would occasionally fail and either leave the CAD engaged or would not engage it at all.

This 1985 Dodge RamCharger came equipped with a 5.9-liter, V-8 engine under the hood. It produced 193 ponies and 285 pound-feet of torque.

We recently saw one example which was in mint condition even at the age of 34. This shows you how rock-solid engines used to be back then and if you could take good care of them, they would never die. It was mated to a three-speed automatic transmission. In the 90s, a five-speed automatic gearbox was introduced as well, whereas manual transmission was on offer all along.

Pricing

1985 Dodge RamCharger
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The original price of the 1985 Dodge RamCharger was $11,500 before any taxes and add-ons. If you are looking for a used one today, you can find models with prices soaring north of $20,000. Talk about a classic collectible!

Competition

1985 Ford Bronco

Images
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Where there is a Dodge, there is a Ford. This should become a saying for true because their rivalry dates back to the 80s. The Bronco was produced between 1965 and 1996, spanning five generations. Other than the first gen that saw compact Broncos, rest all four generations were full-sized SUVs and widely popular amongst the enthusiasts. Keep both these SUVs side-by-side and you will realize they bear a striking resemblance to one another - the waffle-grille, the square headlamps, steel bumpers, and many other things.

On the inside, it came with manual windows, a Texas-man’s-moustache kind-of steering wheel, and wood inserts to give a premium feel. It came with a 5.8-liter, V-8 engine under the hood that produced 210 horses and 305 pound-feet of torque. Even this model sells quite well in the used market. Ford has announced that it is bringing this moniker back in 2020.

1985 Toyota Landcruiser

Images
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We are talking about the J70 series here which was launched in 1984, replacing the 40 series in the Landcruiser lineup. This SUV is known for its tremendous off-roading capabilities and durability. In terms of aesthetics, it looks quite different from the RamCharger and Bronco, but is still quite attractive. On the inside, the Landcruiser was practical and utilitarian. Being an off-roader at its core, expecting much inside would be a cardinal sin.

Final Thoughts

1985 Dodge RamCharger
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How often do you get to read a review these days that does not feature the words ’LEDs’, ’DRLs’, ’touchscreen system’, etc? Those were the simpler times and some people want these vehicles back in their lives. Purists prefer car without any electronic shenanigans - just them and their ride. If you are looking for something similar, you better act on it fast because old-school vehicles are all the rage right now and it may not take long for the prices to skyrocket. This two-door model looks absolutely drool-worthy. The shape, color combination, and size; everything is perfect! Earlier this year, it even landed at a Barrett-Jackson auction and sold for $23,100! Even examples of Broncos sell in the same ballpark, so, go acquire one before they become extinct, or stricter emission norms kick in.

  • Leave it
    • Price of a used example is outrageous
    • Three-speed automatic gearbox does not help use all 193 horses to the fullest
    • Will be tough to maintain and procure parts

Source: Barrett Jackson

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