As cool as utility beds can be, they change the way a truck drives. My 1994 Ram hauled around its 1,600 lb bed without any problems, but it did not do it happily.
Getting out of third gear up a hill was a pipe dream, that’s why I drove it at wide open throttle everywhere it went. Though the extra weight smooths the ride over small bumps, the entire truck would undulate over large bumps barely able to stop its own momentum.
The utility bed did offer some cool storage features, but removing it transformed the truck’s drivability. No more was it weighed down with almost a full ton of diamond plate and tube steel.
The factory style bed we installed in the video linked above, does have some issues. There is rust above the fenders and hail damage on the driver’s side.
Thankfully, parts for a 94 Ram are cheap and plentiful. That’s why I was able to buy a pair of $80 patch panels to fix the rust. Re-building a 90s Chrysler product can be a chore considering they weren’t very well built from the start.
The truck’s saving grace is its virtually indestructible 12 valve Cummins engine, and hardy NV4500 5-speed manual transmission. For only $8,000 plus how ever many dollars have gone into new parts, the 94 Ram is still a great deal.
Here in Colorado, this old beater has the perfect blend of utility for camping and outdoor sports, off-road capability, reliability, and fuel efficiency. You didn’t read that wrong, the beastly Cummins manages approximately 20mpg average.
To top it all off, the truck is incredibly fun to drive. Who would have thought manual transmissions made such a huge difference in something with no sporty pedigree whatsoever.
New parts are being added to the truck daily, and soon it will look like a different machine altogether. If you want to see more progress on the 94 Ram build, stay tuned to TFL Classics.