Home » In The 2000s You Could Buy A Dodge Ram Power Wagon With A Lumpy V8, Chunky Tires, Locking Diffs, And A Manual Transmission: Holy Grails

In The 2000s You Could Buy A Dodge Ram Power Wagon With A Lumpy V8, Chunky Tires, Locking Diffs, And A Manual Transmission: Holy Grails

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What is the ultimate truck? Depending on whom you ask, the best could be something tiny like the kei trucks that Georgia hates, or maybe the gargantuan commercial trucks with pickup beds. For many enthusiasts, the ideal truck is probably somewhere in the middle — a consumer pickup with a ton of capability and a lot of fun tossed in. From 2005 to 2009, Dodge offered just that with the Ram 2500 Power Wagon, a truck with front and rear lockers, 33-inch off-road tires, gear ratios low enough to pull a stump, and oh yeah, did I say you could get a six-speed manual transmission?

Last time on Holy Grails, we looked at a Toyota configuration that came and went in just a blink of an eye. For just two and a half model years between 1995.5 and 1997, you could get a Toyota Tacoma a regular cab, and a V6 engine. If you wanted more oomph, for just a single year in 1997, you could get that same truck with a TRD supercharger. This truck configuration is perhaps the closest we got to a Toyota flavor of the Ford SVT F-150 Lightning.

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This week, we’re staying in the realm of trucks. A number of readers responded to last week’s Holy Grail with some awesome trucks of their own. Today, we will highlight another, and it’s a truck that you may have forgotten about.

Dodge Ram Power Wagon 2005 1600 10

From War To The Farm

The Power Wagon from today’s entry is a descendant of the truck that arguably kicked off the modern four-wheel-drive pickup. As Hemmings explains, Dodge had been building four-wheel-drive pickups since 1934. That year, the United States Army ordered an experimental half-ton truck and Dodge delivered the K-39-X-4. The Army requested 796 examples of this truck and had them configured for different roles. These trucks were successful enough that the Army would return to Dodge over the years for more militarized trucks. As the Estrella Warbirds Museum writes, during World War II, Dodge had produced hundreds of thousands of trucks for the Army. Many of those trucks were WC “weapons carriers,” lightweight and versatile four-wheel-drives that got soldiers and their equipment through rough terrain.

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An Army Truck Stuck In The Mud
U.S. National Archives and Records Administration

These trucks ranged from half-ton to one-and-a-half-ton models and as Dodge noted in a press release, when soldiers came home from the war, they wanted to know where they could buy a civilian version of what they drove in the Army. Thankfully for those soldiers, Dodge was already planning on a civilian version of its war trucks before the war even ended. In 1945, this culminated in the Model WDX General Purpose Truck, what would months later be renamed the Power Wagon:

Dodge Power Wagons first appeared on the civilian market in 1946 as the model WDX. The model designations changed over the years, but the Power Wagon was offered only as a 1-ton truck through its final year of production in 1968.

The Dodge Power Wagon was similar in design to the 3/4 ton weapons carrier, with a 126-inch wheelbase, closed cab similar to the Dodge VC series trucks, and the front shell and grille similar to the T234 3/4 ton built by Dodge for the Chinese Army, also known as the Burma Road truck.

Website Photos 100
City Of Kirtland, Ohio

The WC made for a solid choice for the platform of a civilian truck. The WCs proved themselves to be durable, tough machines that could go places where there were no roads. From a practical standpoint, those WCs could carry up to 1,800 pounds in three-quarter-ton configurations and a whopping 3,300 pounds in one-and-a-half-ton configurations.

The civilian truck was mechanically similar to the three-quarter-ton WC with a 126-inch wheelbase, the three-quarter ton’s open fenders, a commercial cab, and a 230 cubic inch flathead six making 94 horses. The Power Wagon wasn’t a fast truck, but it was a durable workhorse with a 3,000-pound payload, an eight-foot bed, and a two-way power takeoff. These were trucks that took a beating and then asked for more. Because of this, it wasn’t long before Power Wagons became the trucks of choice for farmers, loggers, miners, and oilmen plus government agencies such as fire departments, the U.S. Forest Service, and the Army Corps of Engineers. In 1950, Dodge reportedly ran an ad that said:

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Photos Dodge Power Wagon 1946 1
Dodge

“A Power Wagon can do anything. It’ll milk your cows, or move your mountains…As goes men’s imaginations, so goes the Power Wagon. A single truck, born in the desperation of war is now changing, helping, serving and improving the lives of people for whom it works.”

The original Power Wagon remained in production virtually unchanged until 1968, when sales ended in the United States as the nearly 30-year-old cab did not comply with federal safety regulations. Power Wagons were exported until about 1971 and limited sales continued until 1978. Medium-duty Power Wagons soldiered on until 1980.

The New Power Wagon

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Nearly 25 years later, Dodge decided to revive the Power Wagon name for a trim level of the third generation of the Dodge Ram. This truck would not be military equipment adapted for civilian use, but it would be the ultimate off-road specification for an already solid truck.

Development of the third generation of the Dodge Ram began just two years after the launch of the famous second-generation Ram. As the Los Angeles Times wrote in 2001, Dodge’s designers had a tough mission ahead of them. A year prior, DaimlerChrysler pulled the wraps off its new minivans to a critical reception that saw them called “mildly evolutionary” and reportedly, made some wonder why the company that essentially invented the minivan wasn’t taking any risks.

Dodge Ram Power Wagon 2005 1600 1b

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When it came to the next generation of the Ram, Dodge gave its designers and engineers the mission to create an entirely new truck, but one that didn’t lose the macho big rig style of its predecessor. Here’s how this new truck’s design was described, from the Los Angeles Times:

His team’s task, said Dodge truck design studio chief Dennis Myles, “was to keep what we own–the Ram image–and yet be different, to exceed our own design.”

To do that, the team basically put the old Ram on steroids. They beefed it up with a more aggressive front end–what Myles calls a “get out of my way” grille capped by a hood that slopes sharply up to a windshield that is canted a full 5 degrees more than that of the current Ram. It gives the pickup a racier, speedier profile. The front and rear fenders are more pronounced; the taillights are integrated into the fenders and mimic the “Frenched” taillights of custom hot rods of the 1940s and ‘50s.

Dodge Ram Power Wagon 2005 1600 15

I think this was a mission success. When you see those Ram crosshairs taking up the entirety of your little hatchback’s rear window, it makes you want to dive over into another lane.

At launch, the new Ram carried developments such as a hydroformed steel frame. This boasted five times the torsional strength and two and a half times the bending strength of the previous truck’s frame. At the truck’s launch in 2001 for the 2002 model year, the Ram had a base 3.7-liter V6 rated at 215 HP and climbed all of the way up to a 5.9-liter 245 HP V8. The heavier duty 2500 models got an 8.0-liter V10 making 310 HP or the fabled 5.9-liter Cummins diesel straight six and its 235 HP and 460 lb-ft torque.

Dodge Ram Power Wagon 2005 1600 1d

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These trucks were available in rear-wheel-drive and four-wheel-drive configurations with electronically shifted transfer case as well as an independent front suspension. However, the 2500 and 3500 models retained live axles up front. Those wouldn’t be the only engines, as there would be a 6.7-liter Cummins diesel straight six making 350 HP and the gnarly SRT-10 with its 8.3-liter V10 making a killer 510 HP. Dodge even made a hybrid version of the third-gen Ram.

In terms of off-road gear, the standard truck was somewhat lacking. You didn’t get lockers, but a limited-slip differential in the rear. You also didn’t get a full load of protective gear for the underbody. Dodge rectified this with the Power Wagon.

The Grail

Dodge Ram Power Wagon 2005 1600 0b

Based on the Ram 2500, this truck was able to be had in regular cab, long bed or Quad Cab, short bed configuration. The interiors were unchanged from a regular 2500. Instead, it was what was underneath the truck that counted. This truck was nominated by DrDanteIII:

@Mercedes I have another idea for holy grails: The 2005-2009 Dodge/Ram 2500 powerwagon was available with a 6-speed manual G56 transmission and a 5.7L hemi. Good luck finding one for sale

Power Wagons came swinging with electronically-controlled locking differentials front and rear. The rear axle is a 10.5-inch American Axle & Manufacturing axle and that TracRite GTL locker gives full lock when engaged. When it’s disengaged, it acts as a helical limited-slip differential for towing and other heavy-duty needs. Up front is AAM’s TracRite EL front locker, but that one is based on an open differential. The axleshafts are also properly beefy, featuring the same units used in the AAM 11.5-inch diesel axles.

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Dodge Ram Power Wagon 2005 1600 1a

[Editor’s Note: My friend Chris O’Neill wrote about these trucks at Autotrader a while back. Also, while I’m here, I’ll note that the 2005 is the only one worth buying, as in 2006 the Ram got a hideous redesign.

Image for article titled You Should All Be Aware That In 2003 Dodge Offered An 8.0-Liter V10 Pickup With A Manual Transmission
Image: Miata.net via Kyle DeGennaro on Oppositelock (Facebook)

Also, since I’m here, there’s a picture of a third-gen Ram with a stickshift. This one is a 2003, and not a Power Wagon. I couldn’t find an interior shot of a manual Power Wagon; that’s how rare they are! -DT].

Mounted to those beefy axles are chunky 33-inch BFG all-terrain tires, which are wrapped around 17-inch Alcoa forged aluminum wheels with a special bead seat to increase tire bead surface area. They’re supposed to ensure the tires stay on a bit better when you’re wheeling with low tire pressures. To help keep the power aplenty, there was just one engine choice, a 5.7-liter Hemi V8 making 345 HP, and power ran through 4.56:1 gearing. This meant still putting down strong power despite the tires.

That’s not all, other off-road goodies include an electronic disconnecting front antiroll bar, a 1.4-inch increase in rear ride height, a front increase of 1.8 inches, Bilstein high-pressure monotube shocks, and far greater articulation. This resulted in a 35-degree approach angle and a 26.5-degree departure angle, compared to 26.5 degrees and 20.5 degrees with a stock truck.

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Dodge Ram Power Wagon 2005 1600 0d

But wait, there’s even more! Dodge also covered the underbody with skid plates for the steering damper, transfer case, and fuel tank, plus bars between those skid plates so rocks can’t wedge in between the plates. That transfer case is a New Venture 271 with a 2.72:1 low range and a manual shift lever. In addition to the underbody protection, the beastly trucks also get a larger battery, which helps power the factory 12,000-pound winch that Warn designed for the Power Wagon. Since this is an off-roader, Dodge also tweaked the truck with a slightly higher idle and a fan that kicks on slightly sooner. The best part? You could even get it with a six-speed manual transmission.

If your mouth wasn’t already salivating at this rugged, go-anywhere Dodge, Four Wheeler Magazine might do the trick, from its review:

Dodge Ram Power Wagon 2005 1600 11

The Dodge Power Wagon is the epitome of the American fullsize truck, and we wouldn’t change a thing about this truck, short of throwing a set of 35s on it. But even with 33s, our Wagon has proved nearly unstoppable, recording its only stuck when its amazing four-wheeling prowess caused one of our editors to forget about the 140-inch wheelbase and high-center it on an obstacle at the Tierra del Sol event in Truckhaven Hills, California. Fortunately, there was another Dodge nearby to quickly recover us. Lesson learned, and neither our guy’s ego nor the Power Wagon was worse for the wear.

We love this truck so much, a certain editor on staff absconded with the keys for the first three months it was in the fleet and came up with all sorts of excuses not to give it up. Even when reminded that he is a so-called “Ford guy,” and he needed to share, this editor openly confessed he would spend his own money to buy a Power Wagon and it would take more than an army of Four Wheeler editors to talk him in to turning himself and the Power Wagon in. Once his grip on the keys was loosened, other people on staff also agreed that they would also spend their own money on this truck. Which is great praise coming from a bunch of jaded magazine editors who get to regularly ‘wheel just about every truck out there.

When all is said and done, there isn’t a fullsize pickup out there that can do what the Power Wagon is capable of out of the box. Spending quality time driving and wheeling the Power Wagon has only reinforced our decision to make it the PTOTY winner, and we have no regrets. In fact, we are already plotting ways to convince Dodge to let us keep the big red wagon as a project once the Long Term test is complete-then we can finally get those 35s under it.

Dodge Ram Power Wagon 2005 1600 01

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Not often noted but still noteworthy is the fact that the truck still sported a payload of 2,660 pounds and a tow capacity of 11,000 pounds. MotorWeek did what it normally does and took one out onto a track, where it hit 60 mph in 9.2 seconds, completing the quarter mile in 17.2 seconds at 80 mph. Obviously, this truck uses its muscle for off-roading prowess, not speed.

Arguably the best version of the truck, that’s the regular cab, long bed, and manual transmission, was $36,660 ($59,022 today). Quad Cab plus a manual was $39,125 ($62,991). Adding an automatic transmission called for $37,830 ($60,906) and $40,295 ($64,874), respectively. Apparently, despite these trucks’ fantastic credentials, few Americans opted to buy them. Reportedly, just 4,629 were sold in the United States, plus 281 for the U.S. Government and another 1,253 for Canada.

Dodge Ram Power Wagon 2005 1600 05

As our reader says, finding one of these in good condition is tough. I found one in South Carolina, but it’s an automatic. There’s another automatic in Washington with the most blurry pictures you’ll ever see. I found two others in good shape, but even those are automatics. All of them are $10,000 and up. Apparently, automatics outnumber the manuals about 10 to 1, so if you find a manual, buy it and hold onto it forever. If you’ve owned one of these, I want to hear about it. Is the mid-2000s Dodge Power Wagon as much of an off-road brute as it sounds?

Do you know of or own a car, bus, motorcycle, or something else worthy of being called a ‘holy grail’? Send me an email at mercedes@theautopian.com or drop it down in the comments!

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DrDanteIII
DrDanteIII
9 months ago

Nice! Thanks for taking my suggestion. I wanted one of these so badly, but in 2005 I was fresh out of college with a 62-mile each way commute. this would not have worked out for me.

Joe Delgado
Joe Delgado
9 months ago

I have one, in red even if you want the right interior pics just let me know!

E303
E303
9 months ago

For another holy grail, the 2006 Tundra with the new 4.0 v6, 4×4, and a 6 speed. They made very few of the 2000-2006 trucks in 4×4 with a stick to begin with, and the 4.0 v6 with the 6 speed was only available for the 2006 model year. I’ve only ever seen one for sale. Exceedingly rare truck, but it combines one of the best engines toyota has made in the past few decades with one of the toughest chassis ever built and a modern 6 speed. Holy grail.

Geekycop .
Geekycop .
9 months ago

One issue I ran into with the manual ’07 diesel I had that I imagine was universal was the location and throw of the clutch pedal. It was just really awkward, it started too high up and was too long so you could either have a comfortable position at the engagement, or at the initial movement, not both.

Other than that minor annoyance, and the fact that I was trying to drive a 2wd diesel in 12 inches of snow while trying to keep a small business afloat during the whole financial crisis I’d love to still be cruising that thing around. And no I’m not into rolling coal, it was bone stock and damned near perfect when it wasn’t snowing, except for that awkward pedal.

Squirrelmaster
Squirrelmaster
9 months ago
Reply to  Geekycop .

I put some miles on an ’05 diesel with the manual transmission, and I’ll agree with you on the clutch pedal travel. The truck was pretty fun, at least for what it was, but if they had removed about 2″ of pedal travel from the top it would have been comfortable too.

David Escargot
David Escargot
9 months ago

The Ford Falcon XR6 Sprint and XR8 Sprint are two rare birds… you either see them as some of Australia’s best sedans or some of the world’s fastest taxis

Mr Sarcastic
Mr Sarcastic
9 months ago

I luv these trucks but disagree they are the ultimate truck. If we define truck it would be a vehicle that outsold every other truck when purchased to do truck things. So pick ups are out, they are poor at doing truck things, sorry driving in mud aren’t truck things because so many other vehicles drive better in the mud. Truck things are hauling/transportation. So really box trucks are included. And the Ford that started as a van became a truck from the start of the Super Duty Era. Of you look at the box truck sales of all companies they outsold every other type vehicles that are truck like and lesbianism and rednecks driving vehicles are not trucks.

lastwraith
lastwraith
9 months ago
Reply to  Mr Sarcastic

I’m gonna just assume that’s all sarcasm from Mr. Sarcastic, because not much of that made any sense to me…

Mr Sarcastic
Mr Sarcastic
9 months ago
Reply to  lastwraith

Yeah there you go.

Benjamin Snyder
Benjamin Snyder
9 months ago

Next holy grail idea: 2nd gen toyota tundra regular cab with the 5.7 V8 and dealer installed trd supercharger. I’d love to own one but I can’t find anything on their rarity

Luke Roberson
Luke Roberson
9 months ago

When I worked for the Forest Service in Utah back in 2004, we had a few v10 Rams with manual transmission. Built for hauling stuff and horses around the forest, they were not made to trundle up forest roads. But when my single cab short bed Silverado was busy elsewhere, I took one up through lots of old fire roads and really, really bumpy trails. I’m pretty sure my spine is still paying the price. But what a blast to drive!

Geekycop .
Geekycop .
9 months ago
Reply to  Luke Roberson

My dad has a ’97 with just shy of 500k on the clock. The damned thing has caught fire from overheating with all the grease plastered on the front of the motor, but it still runs and drives, complete with a pair of old wranglers sewn onto the driver’s seat to patch a hole.

Thomas Metcalf
Thomas Metcalf
9 months ago
Reply to  Matthew Sturdy

“with a 6 speed hard to find, Manuel transmission”
Classic Craigslist misspelling.

Wangan Tuned Kei Car
Wangan Tuned Kei Car
9 months ago
Reply to  Thomas Metcalf

Outjerked by craigslist…

Lockleaf
Lockleaf
9 months ago
Reply to  Matthew Sturdy

Thats a diesel, so not the Power Wagon… expensive truck though

CravenMoorehead
CravenMoorehead
9 months ago

A bit off topic but, one of your earlier Holy Grail articles from March was focused on the Chevy SS. I wanted to comment today to say even though these holy grail vehicles are cherished and babied by enthusiast owners, they are still cars/trucks that were built to serve a purpose – whatever that purpose may be. I think driving these Holy Grails, properly maintaining them, and enjoying the hell out of them is best part of ownership. I’ve never been a fan of garage queen vehicles stuffed away awaiting their day of appreciation so they can be sold at auction the the highest bidder.

So I actually purchased a garage queen example of a 2017 Chevy SS, 6-speed manual, in slipstream blue with only 23,000 miles, right around the same time you wrote that article. Since then I have put 7,000 miles on it road tripping and daily driving. And let me tell you – its been the best 7,000 miles I’ve ever driven. It has garnered some rock chips and a scratch or two in those 7k miles but its all in sake of getting into a holy grail each and every day, and enjoying even the most basic trips to the grocery store. People can do what they want with their vehicles at the end of the day, but I am coming in peace, as an advocate to drive your grail as long and often as possible. Why? because life is too short to keep something pristine for someone else to enjoy after you’re gone.

V10omous
V10omous
9 months ago

From a fellow SS 6M owner, congrats on your purchase and may you continue to enjoy it as it was meant to be used!

TOSSABL
TOSSABL
9 months ago

As we’re talking trucks, all I can say is, ‘Hell yeah: drive that shit!’
-and good on ya for enjoying it. I always say the best view is from the fun seat.

Jack Trade
Jack Trade
9 months ago

Well put and thanks for sharing – made my afternoon.

I don’t own a grail by any stretch of the imagination, and many here will scoff at my conventional desires, but in 2002 I got my Mustang GT. 20 years later, I still have and drive her all the time.

She’s seen the tracks and road trips, has scars and blemishes, may no longer a top performer, but it doesn’t matter – she’s as fun now as she was the day I picked her up. Maybe more so as I don’t have as many Camaros gunning their engines at me at stoplights anymore.

The nature of vehicles is to be driven. That’s why they were created, and doing anything less is IMO moving away from the authenticity of they are.

Can’t say for sure, but I strongly suspect driving a base model car all the time that one loves provides more happiness at the end of the day than staring at a supercar that mostly just sits in one’s garage.

Boxing Pistons
Boxing Pistons
9 months ago

Very jealous! Good to hear you’re enjoying it!

Lockleaf
Lockleaf
9 months ago

I didn’t get in to cars because I enjoyed animatronic statues. And animatronic statues is my opinion of garage queens. We claim to love gas engines because they have soul, but if you don’t get out there and drive them, then you’ve gutted the soul of the car anyway. Drive on, good man, drive on. I would use the CRAP out of a power wagon like this one.

Óscar Morales Vivó
Óscar Morales Vivó
9 months ago

I’ve put more miles on the holy-grail-ish 2013 TTRS I got in late 2021 than all previous owners put together (including a 1500 mile road trip around the CA Sierras) and here’s to many more thousand miles.

Use them!

Adam EmmKay8 GTI
Adam EmmKay8 GTI
8 months ago

SS is a trim on any Chevy. WHich Chevy SS did you have? Silverado or Malibu?

The Dude
The Dude
9 months ago

“get out of my way” grille

LOL I never saw that grille in my rear view mirror and thought “I better get out of the way”.

Last edited 9 months ago by The Dude
Jack Trade
Jack Trade
9 months ago
Reply to  The Dude

I still have a soft spot for those grills when I (increasingly rarely) come across them.

I like their “functional work truck” retro feel, as compared to the contemporary “get the F*** out of my way you A*******” style that’s in vogue. Who’d have thought the aughts would now been seen as a simpler, kinder time?

Boxing Pistons
Boxing Pistons
9 months ago
Reply to  Jack Trade

I was bummed when they dropped the crosshair grill on the Rams. The argument given was that it was a Dodge trademark and belonged on their cars. In my mind, the only place that design element could really stretch out in its full glory was on the front of a big truck.

Jack Trade
Jack Trade
9 months ago

Really, no mention of the Power Wagon being the ride of choice of Rick Simon?!

Presumably it could tow the boat he lived on in AJ’s backyard.

Bizness Comma Nunya
Bizness Comma Nunya
9 months ago

I really REALLY wish that the style of locker used only on the Gen1 PW (at least on the rear) is what came standard on every single truck/SUV that has 4WD. Having a selectible locker is wonderful, having a (good) LSD is wonderful, having both is the ultimate.

The only other similar design that I’ve heard about is on the non U.S. market Nissan Patrol (Armada/QX56). They have a helical lsd that also locks at the push of the button.

If Nissan N.A. would just offer this same unit in the US then I believe people some sales meant for land cruisers, maybe Land Rover products would be steered their way.

Lockleaf
Lockleaf
9 months ago

I honestly wasn’t even sure such thing as a locking LSD existed until this article. I have looked for them in the aftermarket for a build I want to do, and I really ever found much that seemed to offer both.

Having only recently purchased a 2005 Hemi 2500 Ram, I now see I purchased the wrong one…

Bizness Comma Nunya
Bizness Comma Nunya
9 months ago
Reply to  Lockleaf

Hey I think you’ll be ok though. If you have a factory LSD in the rear of your 2005 that means that you have a helical (torsen-esque) LSD. That was the only factory lsd option for Ram 2500’s from the early 2000s until 2019 when they changed it to the friction type.

If you have an open diff, then you can always put a trutrac in it or an e-locker. Both are good options, it just depends on what your real use case is for the truck.

Personally I think that trutracs (in the rear) are a better option for most.

Last edited 9 months ago by Bizness Comma Nunya
Pat Rich
Pat Rich
9 months ago

Current Gen also has a locking helical rear diff

Bizness Comma Nunya
Bizness Comma Nunya
9 months ago
Reply to  Pat Rich

Oh shit! You’re right! Wonderful, now I have another reason to want a used 2019+ PW….haha

MP
MP
9 months ago

The 03-06 Jeep TJ Rubicon also had the helical LSD based locker. albeit, air actuated. It was very weak when stressed. Many owners who wheeled their Rubi’s found this out the hard way and would swap in another stock open diff based locker sourced from a rubicon’s front axle into the rear axle because it was a much more durable unit.

Bizness Comma Nunya
Bizness Comma Nunya
9 months ago
Reply to  MP

I remember this type of setup on those TJ’s, but I didn’t know about their strength issues or that they were air-operated! Thanks for sharing

Adam EmmKay8 GTI
Adam EmmKay8 GTI
8 months ago

Pass on selectible or E lockers. They only lock when transfer case is in Low Range, have speed limit up to 20MPH, you lose all traction/stability control when in low range….

LSD works all the time, every time

Michael Beranek
Michael Beranek
9 months ago

Love the photo of Dr. Z pouring dirt on Chrysler’s grave- right after he dug it.

Boxing Pistons
Boxing Pistons
9 months ago

COTD. “Merger of Equals” my a$$! It is criminal what they did to Chrysler under their ownership.

Bizness Comma Nunya
Bizness Comma Nunya
9 months ago
Reply to  Boxing Pistons

Yeah it is pretty bad how Daimler treated Chrysler. The only good joint efforts I can think of were:

  • Pentastar V6
  • Overall it’s a good engine design with some supplier defects here/there. But overall less problems vs. GM 3.6 and (transverse) Ford “Cyclone” V6’s. Mercedes did use “their version” of the Pentstar to replace the old 90 degree V6’s, though Mercedes did try hard to convince people that it was a totally different motor to the Pentastar… which i think is a bit insulting/elitist.
  • Mercedes ML/GL/WK2 Grand Cherokee platform
  • This platform was good in 2011 and honestly was good right up until they stopped making it in 2022. I haven’t driven the new Alfa Guilia based Grand Cherokee, but visually/proportinally it doesn’t seem like an upgrade to me over the old WK2. WK2 was awarded so much for a reason, it’s the best generation of Grand Cherokee that has been built thus far.
06dak
06dak
9 months ago

Except the WK2 platform was more Chrysler than Mercedes, so I don’t think it was really a “benefit” to them. If you ever drove the original ML you would know what a heap of excrement it was…

Adam EmmKay8 GTI
Adam EmmKay8 GTI
8 months ago
Reply to  06dak

I did, and it was.
Ex’s dad bought 2 year old ML320 for to go to Church on Sunday long time ago. The best thing about it was when you took it to get oil change at the dealer they would give you a new loaner that is not ML320 to drive around for and hour or 2

Last edited 8 months ago by Adam EmmKay8 GTI
06dak
06dak
8 months ago

Worst thing about my ex’s ’02 C230 coupe being in the shop was that you got an ML320 to drive around… and it was in the shop quite a few times. lol

H4llelujah
H4llelujah
9 months ago

These were truly some great trucks. Many of them found use in rural fire departments, used for brush truck duty, and they excell in this role like no other truck, being heavy enough to haul 5 guys, tools, water,hoses and a pump out to places a diesel unit could never go.

I didnt have a power wagon, but I did have an 05 2500 with the 5.7 hemi/6 speed combo, and even being a crew cab long bed, it was a lively truck, and a blast to drive.

Brandon Forbes
Brandon Forbes
9 months ago

I mean I definitely think there’s a valid case for a RAM grail, and acknowledge this is cool, but this has nothing on the SRT-10! I would go for that as a grail over this every time.

Brandon Forbes
Brandon Forbes
9 months ago

Ok I’ll buy that.

Boxing Pistons
Boxing Pistons
9 months ago

Fair. It may not need an introduction, but I never get tired of reading about it, especially with some fresh takes and the inevitable deep dove into some of the lesser-known aspects.

Lockleaf
Lockleaf
9 months ago
Reply to  Brandon Forbes

I appreciate what the SRT-10 is, but my life has no use for a lowered 2wd go fast truck. But a big 4×4 with lockers, a manual, decent power, and a solid tow rating? Yeah, this truck is exactly the kind of thing I need.

MP
MP
9 months ago
Reply to  Brandon Forbes

I will agree the SRT-10 Ram is special. But it’s much easier to find one vs. a 3rd gen Ram PW.

V10omous
V10omous
9 months ago

Having owned and driven several HD trucks, equipped both ways, the manual transmission is fun for a bit (whoa, it feels like I’m driving a real big rig!) and annoying most of the rest of the time.

Clutches are heavy, shifters are huge and imprecise, valuable space is taken up with a 2 foot lever rather than a small column shifter, maneuvering a trailer is more difficult, and there’s not much of a fun upside either. Redlines are low, especially on diesels, the idea of tossing a truck into a curve is pretty laughable, and in general it’s just not as cool as you think.

Manuals on sports cars, yes.

Manuals on trucks, meh.

Always broke
Always broke
9 months ago
Reply to  V10omous

Your not wrong but it’s worth noting the automatic transmissions of this era were not great especially dodges. They were probably ok behind the gas motor, but there’s a reason manual diesels from this time sell for a premium

V10omous
V10omous
9 months ago
Reply to  Always broke

By 2007 they all had the modern 6 speed autos that seem to have held up pretty well.

I guess you could make the argument for the earlier year Dodges.

Ultimately I think the reason manuals are worth more in resale is because they are rare and the people who like them are willing to pay extra. I’m not one of those people, even though I’ll have manual cars until the day I die.

TOSSABL
TOSSABL
9 months ago
Reply to  V10omous

I, too, will own a manual as long as I’m physically capable of operating it, but I’ve decided that I will likely go for an automatic if I ever step up to a 4-wheeling rig. I had a friend’s 2000 F150 for some wheels while diagnosing an intermittent stumble, and got permission to hit some trails. Not mine, so nothing hardcore. I learned that finessing my line over rocks was hampered by rolling back every time I paused & did the clutch/brake dance. I love to row my own, but, with my limited ‘wheeling skills, an automatic would likely serve my use-case better

Adam EmmKay8 GTI
Adam EmmKay8 GTI
8 months ago
Reply to  TOSSABL

You have to stop using clutch when wheeling. Stop when you want and shut off the engine in gear.
When you are ready to go, leave clutch engaged. Use starter to go where you want while in gear, until engine kicks in and keeps you going without rolling back

TOSSABL
TOSSABL
8 months ago

I’ve made it home a time or two by starting the engine in 1st, then rev-matching upshifts after breaking a clutch cable, but never thought about that while 4wheeling. Wouldn’t have done it on someone else’s truck, but it’s good to know

Adam EmmKay8 GTI
Adam EmmKay8 GTI
8 months ago
Reply to  TOSSABL

right
It only works when starter does not have clutch interlock. My 1995 Cherokee did not, at all. 2014 Wrangler has to be in 4 Low to disable clutch/starter interlock exactly for that

TOSSABL
TOSSABL
8 months ago

Well, TIL!
That’s pretty cool that Low disables the interlock

Always broke
Always broke
9 months ago
Reply to  V10omous

Yeah for some reason I was thinking the 4 speed was around a little longer. Personally for an off road focused vehicle I prefer a manual, but owning both the automatic is probably better performance wise like it is in most environments

Bizness Comma Nunya
Bizness Comma Nunya
9 months ago
Reply to  Always broke

And let’s remember that off roading with an automatic is (generally) a better experience than with a manual. And I think it’s ok for people to admit when a manual isn’t better, just like V10omous said, HD trucks are better with autos (overall).

Jack Trade
Jack Trade
9 months ago
Reply to  V10omous

Hilariously, this also fairly describes the manual on my SN95 Mustang.

Bizness Comma Nunya
Bizness Comma Nunya
9 months ago
Reply to  Jack Trade

Correct

JDE
JDE
9 months ago
Reply to  V10omous

The saving grace here is the Crawl ration of the first gear. you can idle around a parking lot or a trail even without much trouble. Fuel economy from that era is vastly improved, you also don’t get the MSD on hemi’s, at least that was the case on the challengers, possibly the same on the trucks? Also Clutches are fr less expensive to replace than an entire Trans and this is the time frame when Dodge was transitioning from their own pretty terrible OD trans tot he Merc versions. I am not 100% sure the Merc trans is up to the abuse a 2500 would put it through, certainly the years prior were not known to be that good due to cavitation from incorrect port sizes in the OD portion of the trans.

V10omous
V10omous
9 months ago
Reply to  JDE

Ironically, the only “Merc” transmission on Ram pickups is the G56 manual.

The 68RFE, in use since 2007, is designed by Chrysler and built in Kokomo, IN.

Crawling is probably the only real benefit to a manual over a modern 6+ speed auto, but I’ve never missed it in my auto trucks and if I absolutely had to do it, I can use 4 LO.

Citrus
Citrus
9 months ago
Reply to  V10omous

Also, if you have a bench seat and there is someone sitting there, they are very much in a danger zone. I’ve been in some farm trucks where you are very much in danger of a severe nutting when someone shifts into second.

Lockleaf
Lockleaf
9 months ago
Reply to  V10omous

I enjoy manual trucks. Even towing, I enjoy manual trucks. I can’t argue that hooking up a trailer is more annoying though. But I don’t drive manuals so I can heel toe shift and throw my car in to a corner, so the loss of the “sports” feature doesn’t bother me. I simply enjoy the four limb usage and additional mental involvement that comes from driving a manual.

My best friend is in your boat though. He loves manuals but hates them in trucks because of the loss of fun factor you descibe.

OrigamiSensei
OrigamiSensei
9 months ago
Reply to  V10omous

I’m a good, red-blooded, manual-loving Autopian but for the life of me I can’t fathom why having a manual would make my Suburban better. When it comes to my “work” trucks, I’m an automatic guy all the way; the only way I want manual in a truck would be on some old vintage truck that’s more of a toy.

V10omous
V10omous
9 months ago
Reply to  OrigamiSensei

I have an old K5 as a toy (well, currently in pieces) and my biggest remaining decision is whether to buy the adaptor to connect an LS to the original 4 speed or just swap in a 4L80E.

Frankencamry
Frankencamry
9 months ago
Reply to  V10omous

I think this is the second recent time you’ve poo-pooed manuals in vehicles with low redlines, despite those vehicles working better when nowhere near their redlines. I have examples of both, a diesel wagon and a Ram with a stick. If either makes it to 4K, you’re bad at driving, because the point of a stick is to not do the idiotic crap the automatic does.

I have no problem with your preferences, but it seems like you may drive all vehicles the same, which will make ones not designed for that style seem like turds.

As an additional counterpoint, hustling a 4×4 truck through corners is its own special version of “slow car fast.”

V10omous
V10omous
9 months ago
Reply to  Frankencamry

It’s a fair point in a sense, because I do tend to drive manual cars the same way and I do appreciate revving them out.

That said, the reason I do that and feel that way is because the modern automatic is objectively superior to a manual in pretty much every way, so all that’s left is the fun factor. And hustling a diesel to 3000 rpm then throwing a sloppy lever two feet forward isn’t very fun to me. I’ve done it enough to know.

Maybe I’ve been lucky, but I haven’t owned an automatic in a truck that’s done stupid stuff very often. Certainly not often enough to outweigh the disadvantages of a manual. YMMV.

Adam EmmKay8 GTI
Adam EmmKay8 GTI
8 months ago
Reply to  V10omous

I don’t know about that.
Automatic GTI – $600 transmission oil changes every 2 years or 30,000 at the dealer
Manual GTI – no transmission oil changes

Adam EmmKay8 GTI
Adam EmmKay8 GTI
8 months ago
Reply to  Frankencamry

Oh yes. Slow car fast is awesome in trucks.
BMWs and Mercedeses keep tailgating my Wrangler on highway ramps, then understeer into the shoulder when they panic and slow down while my 33″ all terrain knobby tires start to squeal

Adam EmmKay8 GTI
Adam EmmKay8 GTI
8 months ago
Reply to  V10omous

With those automatics about 20% of engine torque turned into heat, and you could put down the other 80% to the wheels.
With manual 100% of torque went to the wheels.
because of that over time fuel savings add up and you get to use all of engine’s power.
But if you hit a bump while trying to grab the shifter it can smack and hurt your knuckles real good

Man With A Reliable Jeep
Man With A Reliable Jeep
9 months ago

I would’ve loved to have had a Power Wagon with the 8.0L V10 Magnum engine. Oh, I’m sorry…*dabs drool from chin*…pardon me.

World24
World24
9 months ago

Now THAT would’ve been a Power Wagon!
I was annoyed just thinking about that, now reading it makes me mad they didn’t do it as like a little send-off for the motor!

Rippstik
Rippstik
9 months ago

These live rent free in my head, as I witnessed one pulling a stuck bus(!) up a snowy grade. The city pusher F350 couldn’t do the task, so a stranger in a Power Wagon did it. Cool trucks, though I do prefer the AEV Prospector a hair more, because Cummins.

Angrycat Meowmeow
Angrycat Meowmeow
9 months ago

a base 3.7-liter V6 rated at 215 HP and climbed all of the way up to a 5.9-liter 245 HP V8. The heavier duty 2500 models got an 8.0-liter V10 making 310 HP or the fabled 5.9-liter Cummins diesel straight six and its 235 HP and 460 lb-ft torque.

How far we’ve come.

Cam.man67
Cam.man67
9 months ago

This is cool, but if the old PW is your style , the grail version would be the Willock Swivel Frame. I think around 100 were made.

Lockleaf
Lockleaf
9 months ago
Reply to  Cam.man67

Those freaking swivel frames are NUTS

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