Dodge Ram Truck Body Style History

by Rob Wagner
Chrysler LLC

Chrysler's Dodge Ram pickup truck body style evolved from its dowdy origins in 1981 to become the truck industry's innovator in progressive musclebound exterior styling. Always known as perhaps the most durable and best engineered of the Ford-Chevrolet-Dodge light-duty truck line, the Ram broke new ground in 1994 with a body design that dictated what future trucks should like.

Early Years

The debut 1981 Dodge Ram.

The Dodge Ram debuted in 1981 with a slab-sided wide, low-body stance, a roomy but utilitarian cab and a Ram hood ornament once used on prewar Dodges.

Radical Change

The 1985 model introduced the now traditional Ram crosshair grille.

Dodge chief designer Phillip Payne designed for 1994 a new body based on a study that found that truck buyers wanted a masculine "big rig" truck appearance.

New Look

The 1994 Ram set the standard for future light-duty pickup body styling.

Payne's design incorporated the big rig look with modest retro-style flourishes of 1950s era trucks with a raised hood, separate flared front fenders and a protruding front crosshair grille.


The 2001 Dodge Ram 2500 4X4 model body style is virtually the same as the 1994 models.

The 2002 models saw an update with a new interior and larger front grille as Ford and Chevrolet followed Dodge's lead with their own "big rig" versions of a raised hood and separate fender styling.

Third Generation

The 2006 Ram 1500 features slightly updated front end styling.

Dodge continued with the basic body design it had originated in 1994, although the front grille that served the Ram so well grew larger with heavier look.

Forward Look

The 2009 Ram's design is freshened up with a forward thrust look.

Recognizing that the iconic Ram nose was beginning to sag under its own weight, Dodge redesigned the front to give it a forward thrust flourish in 2009, updating it with a fresh appearance.

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