Once upon a time…actually, by the time you’re reading this, more than 25 years ago, marketing and engine specialists at Chrysler and Cummins joined forces and began laying out a strategy for mating Cummins’ then-new B-series diesel engines with Dodge’s Ram pickup trucks.
The year was 1981, and John Keele of Cummins (a marketing guy) and Chrysler’s Troy Simonsen (an engine guru charged with getting diesel power into a pickup by any means necessary) were the two individuals who spearheaded the effort, and who would later be recognized as the Godfathers of the Dodge Ram/Cummins turbodiesel truck program.
| A proud crew poses with the first production Dodge Ram/Cummins turbodiesel pickup truck, which rolled off the assembly line on August 2, 1988.
According to Rob Patterson of the Turbo Diesel Register, efforts to create the union got off the ground in earnest in 1983, with Cummins’ request for blueprints of the Dodge pickup’s engine bay. Concern about which diesel powerplant would actually fit in the Dodge was high, as it had a smaller engine compartment than its Ford and GM competitors. Several engines, including a Japanese 6.0L, were considered before the selection was made.
The actual pairing of Cummins’ 5.9L six-cylinder engine with a pickup didn’t happen until late 1984/early 1985, when Chrysler technicians mock installed a non-running version of the 6BT engine in a Dodge Ram D350 Prospector for the Truck Division’s engineering executives to review and determine what, if any, changes/revisions would be necessary for going forward with a production vehicle (and there would end up being myriad changes).
As “milestones” in this timeline go, there are many. However, while the demonstration version of the Dodge/Cummins collaboration was given the thumbs-up (by the engineers) in 1985, building a real-life consumer model did not happen immediately thereafter. It would still be three years before a production version of the turbodiesel pickup truck came to fruition. And during this timeframe, amid underground meetings (seriously, John and Troy orchestrated some moves on the project without actually “asking” for permission) and, eventually, official discussions about costs being held by both companies, development of actual running/operable prototype turbodiesel trucks was taking place at Cummins’ Columbus, Indiana, skunkworks.
"Several engines, including a Japanese 6.0L,
were considered before the selection was made."
| This letter from Chrysler’s Purchasing
department is somewhat similar to
today’s “reply-all” email messages,
as it was sent to John Keele of Cummins, even though it actually wasn’t supposed to be. The letter explains to John (and others who received it) that Chrysler was withdrawing its request for quotes (bids) from their companies for supplying materials that would be used for producing turbodiesel pickup trucks. That was
all well and fine when applied to the others. Apparently, the folks at Chrysler’s Purchasing department weren’t aware that Cummins was the “supplier” the company was proceeding with, and
that the “deal” between Chrysler and
Cummins had finalized just a few
days before this letter went out.
As Troy explained in a 2004 interview published in Turbo Diesel Register, “We discovered that there simply were not enough
resources within Chrysler to take on the engineering task required to install the diesel in a gas pickup. Cummins was not daunted by this and volunteered to be our engineering outside contractor. We worked out a unique, never-tried-before system for Cummins to do the engineering, design, and testing under the watchful eye of Chrysler Engineering.”
An official green light for the effort came in April 1985, when John was contacted by Chrysler’s Purchasing department, authorizing Cummins to move forward with the project. Within a month of receiving that go ahead, Cummins had six Ram pickups fitted with diesels between their fenders…and had almost all of them running later that year.
After the development fleet—which includes the truck dubbed D001 that’s featured on page 64 of this issue—had been put through its paces, it was decided that Ram/Cummins turbodiesel pickups would officially go into production for the ’88 model year. However, production delays pushed the release to the ’89 model year.
That landmark was achieved on August 2, 1988, when the first production turbodiesel pickup truck rolled off the line at Chrysler’s “Dodge City” assembly plant in Warren, Michigan, where Dodge Ram (which became simply “Ram,” in 2009) pickups were made.
As you either know or can imagine, the last 25 years have not passed without significant changes and improvements (made by both companies) to the engines and trucks. The quarter-century we’re celebrating has actually been broken down into “generations,” which are based on the year ranges of the Dodge Ram body styles.
The photos, captions, charts, and graphs shown provide a brief look at the evolution of the Ram/Cummins partnership. A union that has lasted for 25 years is essentially responsible for creating some of the most revered diesel-powered pickup trucks of the modern era.
This Ram/Cummins development truck, better known as D001, is a two-wheel-drive, automatic-transmission, ’85 Dodge Ram D350 Prospector. The truck features a 47RH (three-speed with overdrive) tranny and easily boils the hides thanks to its 4.10 rear end gear ratio. The first-gen, 5.9L 12-valve that Cummins engineers loaded into this rig is commonly referred to as a “VE-pump” engine, due to its Bosch mechanical, rotary injection pump. The original 5.9L turbodiesel was available from 1989 to 1993 (an air-to-air intercooler was added in mid-year 1991) and boasted 160 hp and 400 lb-ft of torque.
Evolution of the Cummins TurboDiesel
| Evolution Of The Cummins TurboDiesel
| Cummins History Ram Front View
Second-gen Cummins engines power 1994 to 2002 2500s and 3500s. These feature the P-7100 (“P-pump”) fuel-injection pump from 1994 to 1998, which was replaced by the VP44 from mid-year ’98 to ’02. Power and torque output increased throughout this next generation’s run, from an initial 175 hp/420 lb-ft for the ’94 to 245 hp/505 lb-ft in its final year.
| Second Gen Cummins Engines Power 1994 To 2002 2500s And 3500s
| 2003 2009 Dodge Ram 3500
Dodge Ram pickups of 2003 to 2009 vintage were equipped with the third generation of the Cummins inline-six, which was a 24-valve (four valves per cylinder), high-pressure common-rail (fueling) version of the veritable 5.9L until 2007. Bigger, 6.7L powerplants were introduced in the middle of that model year, marking the first displacement change of the program’s history. Like the second-gen engines, power and torque values increased throughout the third-gen’s run, from 305 hp/555 lb-ft for the ’03 to an eventual 350 hp and 650 lb-ft of torque for the ’07½ (the 5.9L versions of the ’07 engines were the only 5.9Ls producing that much peak power and torque).
| Dodge Ram Cummins Turbodiesel 24V
| 2014 Ram 3500 Laramie Longhorn Front Three Quarter 03
Power remained constant at 350 hp until 2013 when it was raised to 385 hp. Torque is the quality that defines the fourth generation of Cummins power for Ram trucks (2010 to 2015). Starting in 2011, torque for the common-rail 6.7Ls leapt to 800 lb-ft. Then for the ’13, torque increased to 850 lb-ft for the 3500 with the max tow package, increasing again to 865 lb-ft for the 2015 Rams. Indeed, it’s a far cry from the 400 lb-ft of the original trucks.
| 2013 Ram Cummins Turbo Diesel
Ram/Cummins 25th Anniversary package
An automotive anniversary isn’t official without a unique logo and badging that commemorates the special vehicles. The Turbo Diesel Registry and
Geno’s Garage are responsible for a really slick Ram/Cummins 25th Anniversary package for 2014 Heavy Duty Rams, which includes 25th Anniversary-branded Katzkin leather seats, exterior badges, floor mats, a red breather cover, and a receiver-hitch cover.
| Clessie Cummins