Nothing Sounds Cooler Than the First-ever Cummins Ram
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.
“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.”
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.
“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.”
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.
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.
“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.”