Nothing Sounds Cooler Than the First-ever Cummins Ram

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Built as a prototype for the first diesel Rams, YouTubers The Fast Lane got a chance to drive a fully-restored 1985 Cummins Ram. 

If you were to go into your local Ram dealership today to pick up a Cummins-powered heavy-duty Ram truck, you’d leave the lot in total comfort, a ton of torque at the ready, and a relatively quiet diesel moving you down the road.

All of that is a far cry from the very first Cummins Ram. Nathan Adlen of The Fast Lane Truck recently had the opportunity to drive the throwback, while comparing it to the latest descendent, the 2019 Ram 3500.

2019 Ram 3500 and 1985 Cummins Ram Prototype

“We have the very first Dodge Ram Cummins Diesel,” Adlen says. “This is 001. It’s a prototype built in 1985. We have the opportunity to drive it, and we can compare it against the newest Ram Heavy Duty.”

1985 Cummins Ram Prototype

The prototype, based on a 1985 Dodge Ram Prospector, traded in its gasoline powerplant for a 5.9-liter Cummins turbo-six, which made 400 lb-ft of torque back in the day. Being a prototype, of course, means things will change when it’s production time, which Adlen says is what happened when the 1988 Ram diesels arrived on the lot.

1985 Cummins Ram Prototype

“After they built this truck, it sat for 20 years as a vehicle Cummins was using for one of their shop trucks,” Adlen said. “As a shop truck, it was well-used. After 20 years, they decided that they wanted to make this vehicle all-new. So they did a full frame-off restoration.”

2019 Ram 3500

Time marches on, and that includes diesel Rams. The 2019 Ram 3500 has 6.7-liter Cummins turbo-six making an unbelievable 1,000 lb-ft of redwood stump-pulling torque, while also being smoother and more sophisticated than the transplanted diesel in the old Dodge.

1985 Cummins Ram Prototype

The new Ram 3500 also has a ton of luxuries the Ram Prospector didn’t, such as a big center console touchscreen, heated leather seats, and wood trim for days. Adlen says the differences between the two trucks says quite a bit about that Dodge and other truck builders were thinking in the Eighties: the prototype, funnily enough, was luxurious for its time, with a big red velour and vinyl bench, AM/FM stereo with cassette player, and air conditioning to make working on the job a bit more comfortable.

1985 Cummins Ram Prototype

“Cummins has come from a place where they used to build engines so it sounds like a big diesel,” Adlen said. “Now, with this generation of Ram, they’ve actually toned things a little bit down. That’s a huge difference, because it wasn’t even like that last year. It wasn’t as raucous and as raw as [the 5.9-liter], but it’s definitely something that every day would get on some people’s nerves when they’re used to these types of trucks that are quiet and refined and comfortable. We are so spoiled.”

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Since launching her professional writing career nearly a decade ago as a fashion blogger, Cameron Aubernon has written for a handful of online and print publications on a wide variety of subjects, including expat issues, fashion, music, and, of course, the automotive industry. The automotive expert was even the editor-in-chief of a popular online lifestyle publication, where she reviewed luxury cars and interviewed fellow automotive enthusiasts.

A graduate of The Evergreen State College Class of 2005 with a bachelor's in liberal arts, Aubernon took a left turn from fashion writing into the automotive realm when she asked a fellow writer via Facebook if she could write for their site. Following an internship, stints with a couple of hyper-local online publications, and a move to Seattle, she made her then-biggest impact with The Truth About Cars, writing full-time for the publication from 2013 to 2015.

Currently, the highly-regarded automotive expert is a frequent contributor to the high-traffic Internet Brands Auto Group websites Rennlist and Mustang Forums, among others.

Aubernon’s expert knowledge of all things Ford trucks has also made her a mainstay as one of the most prolific writers on Ford Truck Enthusiasts and F-150 Online.

Aubernon can be contacted via email at [email protected].

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