Trading Down Or Up? Here Is How A 26-Year-Old Dodge Ram HD Tops Modern Cars (Video)

The best is yet to come.

1996 dodge ram hd diesel cummins truck

Though it may not look like much, this 1994 Ram 2500 Cummins is an exceptional machine. That’s why I sold my 2014 Mazda3 to buy it.

Buying a truck can be a drawn out, stressful process. But every once in a while, you find the perfect truck without any of the headache. This just happened to be one of those special finds.

Trading a modern car for something this age is a baffling decision, until you consider what a truck like this has to offer. It may not have the latest in luxury interiors or new tech, but it can do so much more.

The legendary, 12-valve Cummins turbo-diesel is among the greatest diesel engines ever produced. They are renowned for their toughness and rugged simplicity.

Mix in four wheel drive and a 5-speed manual with a touch of boost, and you end with a recipe for success.

Hilly Colorado puts a beating on practical hatchbacks like the Mazda. Apple Carplay and heated seats simply don’t compete with ground clearance and 4 wheel peel when you’re on the side of a mountain.

Luckily, even at 237,000 miles, there is still plenty of life left in the Ram’s powertrain. With virtually no air coming from the oil fill, it’s safe to assume there is little to no blow by from wear on the piston rings.

Granted, while 12 valve Cummins are great, they do tend to leak their fair share of oil. If the bottom half of the truck is oily but the top side of the engine bay is clean, consider yourself lucky.

Yet, amazingly, this particular truck is virtually bone dry. Every Cummins expert I can find is beside themselves at the condition of this truck.

Things are much the same as you move inside. The seats aren’t ripped, the dash isn’t cracked, it doesn’t even smell bad. The only parts that don’t function properly are the power locks and the factory radio.

Otherwise the power mirrors, power windows, heat, AC, and everything else works like new. Extensive records of its meticulous maintenance even show a full transmission replacement less than 20,000 miles ago. 

Rams as good as this do exist elsewhere, but they often carry a premium of $10,000 or more. This particular truck sold for $8,000. That being said, it isn’t perfect.

The spray paint on the cab is less than ideal, and the utility bed (though very cool) weighs as much as a castle.

The truck’s final form will materialize when it sits under the cab of my broken 1952 Dodge M37. Around back, it’ll get a custom flatbed built for camping and outdoor sports.

In the meantime, it’s going to become a factory style, restored 2nd gen Cummins. Stay tuned for more videos as the truck begins to take shape.