Home » Two Decades Ago, You Could Buy A Dodge Ram With A Manual Transmission And One Of The Greatest Truck Engines Of All Time: Holy Grails

Two Decades Ago, You Could Buy A Dodge Ram With A Manual Transmission And One Of The Greatest Truck Engines Of All Time: Holy Grails

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Let me tell you a dirty word: Diesel. In the past decade, diesel went from being the potential future of internal combustion to the equivalent of a subject best talked about in private. For those still holding onto their diesel steeds, it’s a life of working with finicky emissions equipment, a fading fuel economy advantage, and high fuel costs. It wasn’t always this way. A little over two decades ago, you could buy diesels that could seemingly survive the heat death of the universe while pulling a house at the same time. From 1994 to 1998, Dodge sold a holy grail of full-size pickups. You could buy a Dodge Ram powered by a 12-valve Cummins diesel and pair it with a five-speed manual transmission.

This week, I’ve been asked to write a double feature of Holy Grails. That’s two Grails in one week, two awesome vehicles with a spotlight on them. My birthday is on Thursday and that’s when you get a rare second round of this series detailing the histories of uncommon vehicles. It’s sometimes said that we don’t write about big pickups enough. Today, it’s Trucknesday!

Vidframe Min Top
Vidframe Min Bottom

When I was a kid, one of my favorite movies was Twister. I’m not entirely sure why I loved it so much. Perhaps it was the sense of adventure put on by the film. We got a scrappy bunch of low-budget storm chasers thundering their way to the next tornado, hoping to revolutionize tornado research with a trash can filled with hundreds of sensors. On the other side was a rival army of storm chasers with all of the corporate funding they could wish for.

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Warner Bros.

Along with a great story, Twister had a talented cast from Bill Paxton to Lois Smith. For many, including myself, the real stars were the collection of vehicles from the Jeep J10 to the GMC TransMode of the bad guys. My favorite was the cherry red Dodge Ram piloted by our protagonists. The truck looked heroic as it tackled tornadoes, crops, cows, and an entire house. I’m sure many kids and teens wanted to buy a red Ram just like the one in the movie.

Being a movie star is really just part of what made the second-generation Dodge Ram great. That truck introduced the concept of making a pickup look like a big rig, and the idea has stuck around ever since. Dodge built hundreds of thousands of these trucks, but one configuration is worthy of being called a grail.

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Cummins Power

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Indiana Public Media

For many, Cummins is the first name of diesel power. You’ll find its engines in everything from pickup trucks to motorhomes, Class 8 semis, emergency vehicles, farm equipment, construction vehicles, mining vehicles, marine vehicles, and so much more. The birth of Cummins happened not long after the invention of the diesel engine itself.

Let’s take a stroll back over a century. It’s the 1870s, an era where steam was king. At the time, there was a German student by the name of Rudolf Diesel. As the young Diesel learned thermodynamics, he got an idea. What if there were an engine that could convert heat into mechanical power efficiently?

By 1885, Diesel set up shop to test his theories. One of those theories was that if an engine could run high compression, that would increase its efficiency. In 1892, Diesel earned German patent DRP 67207 for a compression-ignition engine design. A year later, Diesel constructed the first engine to test his hypothesis. This first engine was unsuccessful, but this didn’t deter Diesel from tweaking the design. Fast-forward to 1897 and Diesel proved his work by successfully firing the Motor 250/400. Diesel didn’t just invent the diesel engine but proved that compression ignition engines could be remarkably efficient. Reportedly, the steam engines of the day had about 10 percent thermal efficiency. Diesel’s engine? It had an efficiency of 26.2 percent.

Historical Diesel Engine In Deut
Olivier Cleynen

Clessie Cummins was born in Indiana in 1888 before Diesel earned his patent. Despite never having an education greater than eighth grade, Cummins turned out to be an innovator. The young Cummins, who was a farm boy, would have mentors who would teach him business and how to use his hands to build things. Putting this newfound knowledge to work, Cummins sold newspapers and built a steam engine at just 12 years old. Some of Cummins’ early inventions included a lathe made from an old sewing machine. His steam engine initially had a boiler made out of metal that was too thin, leading to an explosion.

By the 1910s, Cummins was involved in a number of exciting developments. In 1911, He was on the pit crew for the Marmon Wasp, the racecar driven by Ray Harroun to win the inaugural Indianapolis 500. During this time, Cummins also went to work for banker William G. Irwin, acting as his chauffeur and mechanic. Irwin would aid Cummins in his future exploits, including opening a machine shop in 1915. By 1918, the Cummins machine shop was busy enough to justify purchasing an old cereal mill to expand. Cummins Machine Works spanned 5,000 square feet of space.

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1919 The Hvid Era 2 0 (1)
Cummins

Just a year later, Cummins would open and become the president of the Cummins Engine Company. It was that same year when Cummins began to see a future in diesel. The first diesels in America arrived in 1911 when Busch-Sulzer began building engines. Still, when Cummins arrived on the scene in 1919, the diesel was still a niche in America. Anyway, in 1919, Cummins began building his first diesel engines based on a license from R.M. Hvid Co. These were small diesels, good for just 6 HP, which was enough for agricultural use.

It wouldn’t take long for Cummins to create a diesel of his own design. Cummins earned a patent for a direct-injection diesel design in 1921 and in 1924, that engine was put into production as the Model F. 1929 marked a major shift for Cummins. Until then, the brand put its engines to work in the agriculture and marine industries. However, the economy had crashed and with it was demand for engines to put into yachts.

Packard Passenger Car
Cummins

Irwin warned that Cummins’ business was on the ropes and would be shut down. Cummins used this bad situation as an opportunity and shifted his engines toward vehicles. A Model U was fitted into a 1925 Packard limousine, showing that diesel power could even work in cars. Later, that car would drive over 800 miles from Indiana to the 1930 New York Auto Show. The car consumed just $1.38 ($24.83 today) in fuel getting there. In 1931, Cummins even entered a diesel-powered racecar into the 1931 Indianapolis 500.

The goal wasn’t to win, but to prove a diesel car could run the whole race without a single fuel stop. Indeed, the car never stopped, finishing the whole race and consuming just 31 gallons of fuel. The car finished 13th of 33. By 1932, Cummins would help launch the United States’ first diesel truck fleet with Purity Food Stores. After a distinguished career, Cummins passed in 1968.

1931 No Stopping Number 8 At Ind
Cummins

In 1984, when Cummins introduced its 5.9-liter B engine. I’ll let David hold the mic for a moment. He told this engine’s story before:

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To help tell the tale of the “five nine,” I reached out to Cummins’ marketing director David Goggins, who told me that the engine’s durability is rooted in its design for grueling industrial applications, saying:

“A lot of the reason that engine is as durable as it is is because we designed it to be a heavy duty, commercial kind of engine.”

59l Cummins Diesel Engine Dodge
Cummins

He went on to say that the 5.9-liter engine actually originally started as a joint venture between the Indiana-based diesel engine company and Case Corporation, which builds tractors and construction equipment. And indeed, starting in 1984 (well before the 5.9-liter engine ever found itself powering a Dodge Ram), Cummins offered three different variants of the 5.9-liter called the 6B, 6BT (turbocharged) and 6BTA (turbocharged, aftercooled), which served duty in tractors, combines, excavators, road graders, pavement rollers, boats, field sprayers and even school buses.

[…]

But perhaps even more impressive than its factory torque numbers is the engine’s reputation for longevity. Once you start looking at the mechanical bits, you begin to see just how overbuilt the B-Series engine really is. The block and head are cast iron, the crankshaft and connecting rods are forged, the seven main bearings are massive, and like many heavy-duty diesel trucks, the crank and cam are connected by a steel timing gear—not a chain or belt like you’d find in normal cars and trucks. The Holset turbos are also known to last until the end of time.

The B5.9 is a straight-six design with two valves per cylinder. A 4.02-inch bore and a long 4.72-inch stroke helped the engine develop low-end grunt. Reportedly, The Cummins B5.9 12-valve had 40 percent fewer working parts than a competitive engine. Add in the Holset turbo and the Cummins 5.9 was making a healthy 160 HB and 400 lb-ft and was proving itself to be able to go hundreds of thousands of miles without an overhaul.

This is just a sliver of Cummins history, but I think you get it. Cummins has spent over a century becoming one of the first names in diesel, and it’s earned it. If you’re interested in reading more about the feats of Cummins, click here to check out the company’s history timeline. Don’t worry, we’ll be returning to the B5.9 in a bit.

Dodge Goes Diesel

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Dodge via eBay

Dodge’s relationship with diesel wasn’t always a solid one. The automaker’s first experiment with diesel was back in 1939 when an in-house 331 cubic-inch inline-six diesel was planted in trucks. These engines made 96 HP and 225 lb-ft of torque. This engine wasn’t popular, and by 1941, Dodge moved just 195 units. By 1942, Chrysler called it quits on the diesel program.

Dodge would take another swing at diesel in 1960 with the introduction of the LCF medium- and heavy-duty commercial trucks. By now, one in four heavy trucks sold in America had diesels in them and Dodge wanted in on it. A variety of Cummins, GM Diesel, Perkins, and Caterpillar engines were offered on the line of LCF trucks. The largest engine available was the Cummins V903, a thick 903 cubic inch V8 diesel making 289 HP. Dodge would continue to offer large diesels in big rigs after. Of course, today we’re talking about diesels in pickups.

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Dodge

In 1962, you could buy a Dodge W300, what some call America’s first diesel pickup, with a Perkins diesel engine. These trucks were powered by 354 cubic inch straight sixes making 120 HP and 260 lb-ft of torque. It’s unclear how many of these trucks were sold or for how long, but it’s believed that there’s one original survivor, a 1964 Dodge W300 with the engine.

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Fast-forward to 1978 and Dodge decided to flirt with diesel pickups for a second time. Back in the 1970s, American automakers were experimenting with putting diesels into vehicles that weren’t locomotives or heavy trucks. The infamous Oldsmobile diesel engine originated in the 1970s. Chrysler was already having fun with Mitsubishi in the 1970s, and a benefit of that relationship was that for just a single year, maybe two years, you could buy a Dodge D100 or D200 pickup or potentially even a B-series van powered by a 6DR5 diesel from Mitsubishi.

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Dodge

Reportedly, less than 2,900 Dodge trucks came with this engine and vans with this engine are so rare they might as well not exist. Some of that rarity could be explained by the fact that the 6DR5 was a 4.0-liter naturally aspirated six good for just 105 HP and 163 lb-ft of torque. Diesels tend to be known for pumping out torque, but this engine actually makes less power than a gas six, so the only reason to buy one would be for the fuel economy.

That leads us to take three. In 1989, Dodge decided to put diesel power into pickups again, and this time Dodge would hit a home run.

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Dodge via eBay

It’s sometimes said that one of the best decisions Dodge made was plopping the excellent Cummins 5.9 down into its aging first-generation Ram truck. In 1972, Dodge introduced the third-generation D series pickup. This truck was facelifted and renamed the Dodge Ram in late 1980, buying the truck another 13 years until it was finally discontinued for an all-new Ram. The Ram was already an old duck when Dodge dropped the Cummins B5.9 into it in 1989, but people didn’t care. That engine turned the Ram into a truck with more power than Ford and General Motors could match.

People piled into showrooms to scoop them up. Reportedly, 16,750 Cummins-powered Rams left the showroom in 1989, and the number was that low only due to the fact that Dodge and Cummins couldn’t make the trucks fast enough. By 1990, the Chrysler and Cummins partnership started sorting itself out and 26,700 Cummins-powered Rams left showrooms. Here’s the amazing part, these trucks were in such high demand that in 1991, Dodge sold 40,180 diesel rams. In the final year of the first-generation Dodge Ram, people still couldn’t get enough and 49,226 Cummins-powered Rams followed people home. It’s common for models to lose steam at the end of a generational run. The first-gen Ram was heating up just when things were coming to an end. Yet, this isn’t our grail, either.

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The Rules Have Changed

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Dodge

Now that we’ve established how great the B5.9 Cummins is, we need a good home to put it in.

Our old pals at Jalopnik detailed the rollercoaster of development that the second-generation Ram faced. The 1994 Ram was the result of over seven years of development and more than one rejected design. We’re glad the initial designs were booted because none of them quite had the punch the production Ram would have.

Despite the success of the B5.9 Cummins, Dodge struggled in the marketplace. Reportedly, its market share was just 6 or 7 percent, putting it far behind the competition. Chrysler, which had just survived financial turmoil, needed its next Ram to be a big win. Hindsight being perfect vision, we know the second-generation Ram launched a truck revolution, but Chrysler almost fumbled it.

Photos Dodge Ram 1994 1
Dodge

In 1986, Chrysler’s Advanced Package Studio produced the first design study for the then-upcoming truck. It was dubbed the Louisville Slugger and while the truck was plenty utilitarian, it looked like a minivan with its roof chopped off. The truck was perfectly inoffensive, like the kind of cars a video game developer makes to avoid licensing issues. Unfortunately, bland looks weren’t the Louiville Slugger’s only problem. It had a spacious cab and large box, but the engine bay was too small to fit the Cummins or the planned V10 engine. That was a non-starter and the design study was dropped in 1987.

Later that year, design transferred to the AMC/Jeep design studio, and that crew produced a new truck, nicknamed Phoenix, but that one reportedly looked a bit like a clone of the Ford F-150. Oops. In 1989, executive Bob Lutz and executive Francois Castaing decided to can the Phoenix as well. Instead of sending the truck’s designers back to the drawing board, Lutz ordered the development to be restarted from the beginning with six months to come up with something new. In addition to starting from scratch, the designers would work from start to finish in Computer Aided Three-Dimensional Interactive Application.

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When it came to the design, the mission was to be original and go bold. The truck’s designers went flipping through the pages of Dodge’s past at its Power Wagon trucks from World War II. Along the way, they found American big rigs, and that sparked an idea. Chrysler former vice president of design Tom Gale noted to Ars Technica in 2021 that the second-generation Ram had retro style. But, instead of borrowing from Chrysler’s past, designers copied the looks of Kenworth and Peterbilt semis, from Ars Technica:

Borrowing other companies’ heritage was notably successful on the 1994 Dodge Ram, which channeled the language of Kenworth and Peterbilt. “It was a pretty big leap, but we had nothing to lose,” Gale admits.

1956 Studebaker Transtar Deluxe
Garage Kept Motors

Reportedly, designer Phillip E. Payne also got some inspiration from the 1950s Studebaker Transtar truck. For the interior, a designer was sent out into the field to look at how people used their trucks. It was found that existing trucks didn’t have great storage for cups, clipboards, and other gear, so truck owners built their own solutions. It was clear that the new Ram also needed a functional interior. Designers threw these inspirations into a large stew, creating a vehicle that some would call an icon today.

As Gale noted in the Ars Technica report, copying the traits of a big rig, from the long, tall hood to the low headlights, turned out to be a winning formula. The truck was released for the 1994 model year with sales jumping a huge 143 percent. Buyers didn’t let up in 1995 as that model year still saw a 77 percent jump. The second-gen Ram even won MotorTrend‘s Truck of the Year award in 1994. Market share jumped from around 6 percent into the 20s.

Dodge Ram 1994 Pictures 2

The second-gen Ram, which spans 1994 to 2002, includes a number of variations and a slew of engines. The base engine through most of the second-gen Ram’s run was the 3.9-liter Magnum V6. You could also have your Ram with a 5.2-liter Magnum V8, 5.9-liter Magnum V8, and even an 8.0-liter Magnum V10. Diesel-powered second-gen Rams 2500s and up were offered with 5.9-liter Cummins straight-six engines. All of them, from 1994 to 2002, were the Cummins 5.9, but they came in a variety of flavors. From the 1998.5 model year to 2002, the trucks were powered by the Cummins ISB 5.9 24-valve while earlier trucks put down power through the 5.9-liter 12-valve variety.

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The 24-valve has numerous updates over the 12-valve. Reportedly, the 5.9 24-valve has better throttle response as well as better air and coolant flow. Here’s a picture of what a 24-valve looks like:

1998 Dodge Ram 1573398331cd20849
Bring a Trailer Seller

Another change included the 24-valve moving from mechanical fuel injection to electronically controlled injection with a Bosch VP44 pump. In addition to these evolutionary changes, the 24-valve also made more power than the 12-valve. In 1999, the 5.9 24-valve made 230 HP when bolted to a manual transmission or 215 HP when connected to an automatic. By 2001, power reached 235 HP regardless of transmission. There was also a High Output option available, which gave you 245 HP and 505 lb-ft of torque.

In contrast, the 12-valve offers more simplicity. As stated before, this engine uses mechanical fuel injection with a Bosch P7100 injection pump. There are fewer electronics involved, which further simplifies operation. In 1994 and 1995, you got 160 HP with an automatic transmission and 175 HP with a five-speed manual. Torque was 400 lb-ft and 420 lb-ft, respectively. From 1996 to 1998, automatic-equipped 5.9 diesels made 180 HP and manuals got 215 HP. Torque was 420 lb-ft and 440 lb-ft, respectively.

The Grail

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M&M Investment Cars

Both of these engines are popular and you’ll find people paying pretty crazy money for a clean second-gen Ram with a 5.9-liter Cummins in it. However, of the two, the 12-valve is the grail. Why? The 24-valve’s Bosch VP44 injection pump is reportedly a failure point and one that can be costly to repair. Apparently, many 24-valve engines were also made with thinner blocks, sometimes resulting in cracking by the freeze plugs, which causes coolant leaks. The engine’s exhaust manifold is also noted to crack.

The 12-valve is generally the more reliable of the two engines with fewer parts and electronics to go wrong. At the same time, tuners have figured out that the 12-valve can accept some frankly silly power numbers. Want 1,000 HP? The 12-valve can handle that! Still, even the 12-valve has a few problems here and there, such as the so-called “killer dowel pin.” This pin helps with aligning the timing cover but can migrate out of place, ending up inside of the engine and causing havoc.

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Here’s what a 12-valve looks like from the engine bay:

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Bring a Trailer Seller

Having a 12-valve Cummins 5.9 would be cool enough, but according to our David Tracy, the true grail is a 12-valve truck paired with a five-speed manual transmission. The grail of the grail seems to be the 1998 Ram 2500 Quad Cab with a 12-valve Cummins and a manual transmission.

Why? 1998 was the first year for the Quad Cab (four-door), but the last months for the 12-valve. Ram owners can tell you that the automatics in these trucks weren’t a strong point. A 1998 Ram with a 12-valve, Quad Cab, and a manual transmission appears to be ridiculously rare nowadays. I found a couple of archived for sale ads, but nothing current.

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M&M Investment Cars

This could be avoided with the addition of a five-speed manual transmission. Not everyone likes manual transmissions in trucks, but they can be fun. While I could not find a review of the truck with a manual transmission, I did find a review by the Orlando Sentinel describing driving a 12-valve Ram. It’s deeply entertaining:

When offered we said yes to test-driving the turbo diesel. We should have said we gave at the office. The Ram is a whale of a truck. Room, comfort, carlike amenities, anti-lock brakes, a driver’s-side air bag and looks that would make a Kenworth blush. Ram has it all – until you put the diesel under the hood and a human being directly behind it.

The diesel in the 1994 model Ram 2500 SLT Laramie we drove brought neighbors out of their houses, not to admire the engine but to investigate whether all that clatter in the drive was actually someone operating a jackhammer. Simply idling in a hospital zone would be reason for a ticket.

Construction workers, snowplowers, boat or horse trailer haulers and those who log many miles and need the driving range diesel provides vs. gas will love the diesel and its estimated 20 to 21 miles per gallon city/highway combined mileage – provided they accept the noise. The sound of combustion in this diesel was akin to a string of cherry bombs being set off in a mailbox.

[…]

Another fueling visit brought another problem. The truck stop catered to 18-wheelers, and so the diesel pump filled tanks at the rate of 50 gallons a minute. Had we tried filling our half-empty 21-gallon tank with that pump, it’s possible the tank would have arrived back in Illinois ahead of us. It meant finding another station that pumped diesel at a more normal rate.

If you’re laughing as much as I am, it gets even better, click here to reach the Orlando Sentinel‘s review.

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1998 Dodge Ram 157339821798764da
Bring a Trailer Seller

Admittedly, trucks like these aren’t known for refinement. They also aren’t known for being quiet. What you’re buying with a truck like this isn’t a commuter, but a tool. A Cummins-powered Ram is the truck that can tow your camper across the country without breaking a sweat. A Cummins Ram is a great platform for modifications, custom builds, and for keeping a farm alive.

Are these trucks rare? I have no idea. Dodge sold 286,194 Cummins-powered Rams from 1994 through 1998. These numbers aren’t broken down by transmission. What I can tell you is if you find one of these grails, you can expect to pay ridiculous money. Here’s a 1996 Ram 2500 with a 12-valve Cummins and a manual transmission. The price? $34,997. Ouch! That was one of the cheaper ones. Here’s another that’s just a fiver short of $50,000. These are trucks that, depending on configuration, originally sold for $28,009 – that’s $57,335 today.

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M&M Investment Cars

Nowadays, diesel pickups are basically eldritch monsters that can pull 40,000 pounds with ease. A 6.7-liter Cummins-powered Ram 4500 makes 360 HP and 800 lb-ft of torque today. Modern trucks can basically pull a mountain, but for many, old diesels are better. If that sounds like you, an old Cummins is calling your name, just bring a lot of money.

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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Phil Ackley
Phil Ackley
3 days ago

Awesome article!
Update the Holy Grail to the 24V version
20 years ago I bought a 2001 short bed crew cab 24V 195,000 mi Texas horse hauler now converted to race-trailer hauler.
Upgraded:
Edge
HP VP44 previous failure
4” exhaust
Walbro fuel pump (maintains 20 psi)
Failures
VP44
Alternator
PS pump

6 sp failed from power increase
Sent to FT Worth rebuilt to SHO
strength to handle power
added trans cooler.
Instant cold weather starts

Monster power and reliable at 225,000 miles

Jon
Jon
2 months ago

I have a 98 red quad cab long bed 12 valve. 11Bought it 2 years ago and it’s all original from what I can tell. It came with the 6 speed though. Anybody know if they put the 6 speed in any 12 valves or if that was the only thing that was ever changed? Because everything else is factory. P pump had never even been touched and it still has the factory shocks on it with manufacturing date of 97.

Peggy
Peggy
2 months ago

We have a 97 3500 with manual transmission. After buying two with automatics and both trucks blew aromatics, we bought a 3500 hp diesel with a manual transmission had no problem.After talking to engineers about our earlier truck. They made changes. Biggest problem now is keeping a block heater on the motor when it’s cold. For easier start.
She still runs good.

Spencer Durrant
Spencer Durrant
3 months ago

I live in rural Wyoming, where a lot of older trucks are still really common (not every rancher has a brand new F-350, contrary to popular belief). Read this story yesterday morning, and this morning I pulled up next to a 98ish (at least a 98) 24 valve Cummins with a manual at the gas station. Not quite the holy grail, but probably as close as I’ll ever come to seeing one!

David O'Malley
David O'Malley
3 months ago

I am a 95 2500 cummins 4wd club cab driver/owner. The engine may be the grail but the truck…come on guys it’s a Chrysler product and all the weirdness that has plagued their history is included from lousy electrical system to front ends that are less road worthy than a Big Wheel on ice. How many other trucks can you buy where Death Wobble is a common happening. The cab mounts are a cereal bowl design (good thinking Lee.) So all the salt and sand from mile 1 is there at mile 200k. Most of these trucks if are actually in an untouched condition are riding on their frames. And there are not too many willing to take on the task.. The NV4500 is a cruel joke which they must be laughing about till this day. Do yourself a favor don’t even bother getting an aftermarket OD retainer ring it’s going to fail at some point. Just up grade to the 5600 and get an extra gear out of it. The truck needs it anyhow.. If the truck has been east of the Mississippi at any point of its 28 years plan on doing significant metal work mine has all new floors done by my son and i.. The front end is a complete nightmare thank God for companies like Synergy Who engeneered magic parts to make this truck a 2 finger cruiser at 70. Nice Work Ladies and Gentlemen..just turn over your check book to them because it’s not cheap stuff. But we’ll worth it all joking aside. When you finally get all this done you’ll realize your ecm isn’t charging Batts or running AC clutch don’t worry nothing looks cooler than a big switch gang in a diesel truck cause Your gonna have one. It’s good though no one else can drive ur truck because they’ll never figure it out.
Now the good 30mpg if you tune it right and drive it right. Pretty easy to do it’s the slowest truck In history. But it pulls BiG loads if you have toys like I do there is no worry pulling up to Maine in any weather up any mountain. The engine will always start and run on 1 wire if you need it to. Yeah its smokey it’s loud it’s Big But your driving a piece of history and if your like me a Daily driver of such then it’s a special league. Get used to crowds around the truck at lots. Get used to weird rich guys offering silly amounts to buy it right now!!!.. And get used to looking forward to driving home from work everyday and when it’s down its like a family member is missing. Because it is.. That’s what it becomes . So much so that there’s 2 in my drive my sons 24v not a daily but very cool. You don’t need to fly an American flag behind u in this truck. Because it just screams USA all by it self. NO DEF no computers just true reliability every turn of the key. Thanks Cummins and when our enemy’s detonate an emp over our heads you can drive with your middle finger In the air as everyone else bums out.
You’ll Name the truck as it becomes a family member mines Big Black. Sorry far left.. It ain’t changing.
It’s a love hate relationship but one that you won’t be able to do without if your a true truck person.
Grail? I Don’t know about that. I drive a 23 3500 Duramax dually dump. And it would make a mess of Big Black in everything except mileage.. And of course personality it has none. And my truck has a Name!!!
Enough said.

Sivad Nayrb
Sivad Nayrb
3 months ago

The ’94-’98 Diesel Ram manual transmission was a bag of shit.

MtnCamantalope
MtnCamantalope
3 months ago

I’ve got a 2018 Ram with the 6.7 and g56 six speed manual. Maybe this version isn’t grail worthy, but it was the last full sized truck sold in this country with a stick. Mine actually shipped to the dealer January 2019, so I really was one of the very last.

Surfbeetle
Surfbeetle
3 months ago

In 1990, my dad bought a Cummins Ram with the five speed. The power it had was incredible, we accelerated going up the grapevine on I-5 with a 24’ boat. In ‘95 I bought a holy grail 5 speed Cummins Ram new 2500 which I still have at 242,000 miles. It has been the most dependable vehicle I’ve ever had. It gets 24mpg on the highway at 70 mph. We just got rid of a ‘16 Cummins Ram, while it’s more capable and comfortable than the 95, it had poor fuel economy and don’t own one of those without a warranty.

06dak
06dak
3 months ago

My dad had a ’94 Ram fast feedback vehicle (he worked at Chrysler) when I turned 16. V8, 2WD, long bed regular cab. Was by far the coolest car my parents ever had – we had people eyeing it in the parking lot wherever we went.

Dan1101
Dan1101
3 months ago

My dad bought one of these 5-speed Cummins diesel Rams new, it was a silver longbed extended cab. He put a receiver hitch in the bed. It towed various campers up and down the Appalachian mountains many times. He still has it, it was parked for quite a few years but he had it repainted and had some work done to get it roadworthy again. It’s still a nice-looking truck.

World24
World24
3 months ago

A 12v 6BT is on my shortlist of HD trucks I’d love to own if I ever could/needed too.
I’d prefer a 1st generation Ram, but a single cab 2nd would be neat as all hell. Transmissions? Eh, I could care less. If I can afford one and what I use it for, I think I can afford a built version of a 47RE or whatever they use, or just rock a NV.

Widgetsltd
Widgetsltd
3 months ago

If one thinks of the 12 valve Cummins as the Grail (I don’t), then I can see why the early-1998 truck would be the one to have. For one thing, the 1998 trucks have revised brakes (including rear disc and front twin-piston calipers) which are bigger, more durable and work well. The 1994-97 brakes are garbage by comparison. The Quad Cab is nice if you want to carry people in your truck as well as cargo.
However, I’m here to tell you that the 12 valve Cummins is NOT the Grail. Only a luddite would be willing to accept the 12 valve’s terrible cold-start behavior in sub-freezing weather just to have a mechanical injection pump.
The real Grail is a 2006 or early-2007 Common-rail 5.9L with the G56 Mercedes manual transmission. Benefits:

  • Starts immediately with no misfire in cold weather. I recall starting a 2004 common-rail Cummins Ram in Sioux Falls, SD which had been parked overnight in a negative 12 deg F ambient without the block heater plugged in: It chugged maybe 2x and then brought itself up to a 1000 rpm idle and warmed itself up. A 12 valve would be filling the neighborhood with white smoke (misfire) and running on 2 cylinders!
  • No smoke. In stock form, the common-rail trucks do not blow smoke out the tailpipe. At all. If somebody is the sort of goober who tunes one to roll coal then that’s a crying shame.
  • Very quiet. The pilot injection strategy of the common-rail system dramatically reduces engine noise. These trucks are MUCH quieter inside than the 12 valve or (God Forbid) the 24 valve VP44 pump equipped trucks.
  • More power than a 12 valve! 325 hp and 610 lb-ft torque in stock form.
  • Better, stronger, 6-speed manual transmission.
Widgetsltd
Widgetsltd
3 months ago
Reply to  Widgetsltd

I forgot to mention a key feature on the 2006 & early 2007 5.9L Cummins with the common-rail injection system: These trucks do NOT have advanced emissions controls. No DPF, no EGR, no NAC (NOx adsorber catalyst) and no SCR/DEF (diesel exhaust fluid) system. Aside from the engine management system itself, the only emissions control parts are the closed crankcase ventilation system (no road draft tube to drip oil on your front axle!) and one oxidation catalyst in the exhaust.

Rust Buckets
Rust Buckets
2 months ago
Reply to  Widgetsltd

To me, a computer controlled diesel loses many of the advantages of a diesel. A big part of why I like mechanical diesels is the extreme simplicity and lack of electrical wiring, I appreciate the single wire it takes to run a P pump Cummins.

A common rail is massively more complicated, expensive to fix, and is well known to be more sensitive and failure prone.

I don’t know how bad the 12v cold start is, but block heaters do exist.

Myk El
Myk El
3 months ago

I remember when that early 90s Ram redesign came out and my parent’s country club adjacent neighborhood had these diesel ones showing up and being used for commuting to white collar jobs. I am sure it’s actually good at truck things, but I can’t see it as anything other than the “daily driver” for lawyers and dentists that rode Harleys on the weekend.

Juanmi82
Juanmi82
3 months ago

Happy birthday, Mercedes! May you enjoy many more years in good health and good company, making your readers enjoy your gift of making interesting anything you write about

Melody J Tapprich
Melody J Tapprich
3 months ago

I have a 1996 2500 dodge Cummins truck I purchased as a 2 previous owner truck. It was an automatic transmission. It had 103,000 on it and had been used to pull a few cows to market, boat to the lake and one man had drove it to work. When I bought it my brother did the killer dowel pin. By 110,000 miles, pulling the Arkansas hills with my LQ horse trailer, the plastic piece holding the transmission hose on came off, I lost all fluid and burned up the auto tranny. My husband’s brother rebuilds manual transmissions for a living and happened to have one on hand for this truck so my husband put it on for me and I’ve had no problems since with that 5 speed behind my motor. I get excellent fuel mileage when pulling. I’m very happy with my truck. Only complaint I have is the interiors of dodge trucks go south. My truck currently has about 160,000. If I live long enough I want to see if it makes it over a million. So far since I got my CDL A I’ve also drove semi’s with Cummins and I love that motor.

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