Neo-Classic Car: 2004 Dodge Ram SRT-10
By Dennis Haak
It’s not quite a car, and it’s too young to be a true classic, but it’s probably safe to say that there will never be another vehicle quite like the 2004-2006 Dodge Ram SRT-10 pickup. Also known as the Viper Pickup, the Ram SRT-10 showed the crazy things that could happen when performance car engineers – many from Chrysler’s Dodge Viper and Plymouth Prowler teams – were unleashed on a utilitarian vehicle. Call us crazy, but we don’t expect to ever see a vehicle with EPA ratings of 8 mpg city/11 mpg highway (Quad Cab model, with adjusted 2008+ ratings) sold in the US ever again.
That doesn’t mean that we can’t appreciate the Ram SRT-10 for what it is: perhaps the most hairy-chested, brash, and fast performance pickup* truck ever built. Chevy’s 454SS, sold in the early 1990s, produced less than half of the horsepower that the Ram SRT-10 did, and the Ram SRT-10 topped the supercharged Ford F-150 Lightning by at least 125 horsepower.
The Ram SRT-10 featured giant 22 inch wheels shod with Pirelli Scorpion P305/40R-22 performance tires. Continuing the Viper theme throughout, the wheels were designed to look like those installed on the contemporary Viper, though they were larger in diameter and narrower. The truck’s unique hood had a power bulge and functional hood scoop, and a rear tonneau cover with a spoiler was included on most trucks. All regular cab SRT-10s were equipped with a Tremec T56 six-speed manual transmission shared with the Viper. The front suspension was a modified independent setup adapted from the Ram Heavy Duty, and the truck was lowered one inch from a standard half-ton Ram.
After the initial success and favorable market reaction to the SRT-10 (over 3,000 were sold for the 2004 model year), Dodge introduced a Quad Cab model for 2005. The Quad Cab more or less looked the same, but had rear doors and a back seat. The additional cab area added 24.6 inches in overall length, and tacked about 488 pounds onto the truck’s curb weight versus the regular-cab SRT-10. Ram SRT-10 Quad Cabs came only with a four-speed automatic transmission, leaving the six-speed the exclusive domain of the regular-cab truck.
The extra weight slowed the Quad Cab a bit; the regular cab could do the 0-60 MPH sprint in 4.9 seconds, while the Quad Cab took 5.6 seconds. Quarter-mile acceleration was robust, with the regular cab doing the feat in 13.6 seconds at 109 MPH, and the Quad Cab doing it in 14.2 seconds at 104 MPH. The regular cab scored 0.86 g of lateral grip, and the Quad Cab trailed a bit at 0.83 g. Not bad numbers, considering the terrible weight distribution of an unladen pickup truck, or the 5,130 pound curb weight of the regular cab and 5,618 pound curb weight of the Quad Cab.
Inside, the Ram SRT-10 had heavily-bolstered sport seats in the front seating positions, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, and an eight-speaker Infinity sound system. Manual transmission-equipped trucks had a Hurst shifter and an aluminum Viper shift knob, and all Ram SRT-10s had a red starter button. Finally, the gauge cluster had satin silver faces with a Viper-like font and graphics, with the speedometer and tachometer re-calibrated to reflect the truck’s hot-rod powertrain.
I’ve never personally had the chance to drive a Ram SRT-10; the closest I got was driving both a 1990 Chevy 454SS in the early 1990s and a 2008 Dodge Viper in fall 2008. The 454SS was scary on wet roads and had plenty of low-end torque with not much top-end power to offer. The Viper was just a bit scary; not many cars intimidate me, but the Viper did, and it required smooth inputs to keep the big V10 tamed.
Let’s offer a moment of silence to these 8 MPG dinosaurs and the crazy horsepower race that they represented.
*The phrase ‘performance pickup’ does not include car-based utes.