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Falling (Back) in Love With a Ram 1500 from Craigslist

midlife pickup

Illustration by Derek BaconAutomobile and Driver

From the November 2021 situation of Automobile and Driver.

I at all times thought my midlife disaster would contain an IROC. Or perhaps a Saab 9000 Turbo, or a two-door Jeep Cherokee—the cooler cars from my formative driving years. However apparently, buried deep in my psyche is a must revisit one of many much less charismatic machines of my teenage life, the winter beater that beat you again: the Massive Dodge Ram.

The BDR was my dad’s truck, however I drove it within the winter. Which, in Maine, meant normally. It was an ’87, two-wheel drive, with a feeble 95-hp Slant-Six and a four-speed. After the engine seized on my technique to faculty, I requested the seller whether or not the guarantee would cowl an improve to a V-8. That was a no, possible as a result of it could trigger everybody with a Slant-Six and a 7/70 guarantee to fill their crankcase with Mr. Pibb in a quest to attain a 318.

So, what did I simply purchase? A Ram, in fact—a 2003 regular-cab quick mattress with a guide transmission. It seats three, identical to a McLaren F1. It is also four-wheel drive with a 4.7-liter V-8. You could be considering, “I did not know they made them like that.” Neither did I, till I noticed the Craigslist advert. It is like a Ram SRT-10 with four-wheel drive and half the ability. Okay, lower than half the ability. But it surely has throttle-by-wire and pyrotechnic seatbelt pretensioners, which I do know as a result of I am now geeked on third-gen Rams. A hydroformed body? Have a look at you embracing the longer term, early-2000s DaimlerChrysler.

After I confirmed up on the vendor’s home, he instructed me that he purchased it from his pal, who was the unique proprietor and needed to order it, as a result of no seller would voluntarily inventory such a factor. The clear-coat is peeling, the stereo is useless, and the warmth and A/C work solely with the fan on excessive. That is proper: It has air con! And a vinyl ground. And cruise management. And guide home windows and door locks. Only a freak specification, this factor. I requested whether or not the cruise management labored. “I do not know,” the proprietor stated. “I by no means tried it.” He additionally identified you could push-start it if you happen to pop the clutch in second gear. I did not ask how he knew second was finest for that. I simply handed over the cash and headed house in Massive Dodge Ram, Half 2. The cruise management labored.

Just a few days later, I swapped in a brand new head unit and received the stereo going. Just a few days after that, I wired in a powered subwoofer. I regarded up all of the efficiency mods for the 4.7 V-8, which did not take lengthy as a result of there are not any. Nevertheless, like its 1987 ancestor, the Ram has a surprisingly good experience. Or, I ought to say, unsurprisingly, given its limber 8.5 inches of suspension journey. I instructed you, I am geeking out. Do you know that at 207.7 inches, a 2003 Ram common cab with the quick mattress is definitely 4.6 inches shorter than a present Toyota Tacoma double cab? Hey, come again right here.

I’ve had the Ram for a couple of week, and I am loving it. My youngsters have realized how you can roll down a window utilizing arm energy, and my spouse has realized truck bench-seat etiquette—I instructed her she has to experience within the center or individuals will assume we’re preventing. She replied that if she has to experience within the center, that is a self-fulfilling prophecy.

And I spotted that I would in some way by no means owned a pickup truck. Of us, I see what all of the fuss is about. You’ll be able to simply throw stuff within the mattress, even when that stuff is soiled. Hell, the stuff could be precise dust! Buddies inform me I would like a decal of Calvin peeing on a Chevy emblem, however I do not perceive what a sixteenth­­-century theologian has to do with domestic-truck rivalries and even the place you’d order such a factor.

I’ve lengthy maintained {that a} midlife-crisis automotive needs to be an enchancment on the sensation you are attempting to recapture, an improve relatively than a clone. And I used to be proper. Now, anytime I would like, I can go exterior, flip the important thing, and affirm that the ol’ Massive Dodge Ram was really enjoyable. However it could’ve been loads cooler with a V-8.

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