First Look: 2004 Dodge Ram SRT-10

Viper firepower for an American workhorse

Matt Stone
Mar 29, 2004
Contributors: Jack Keebler
If you fire a 12-gauge shotgun packed with 00 buck, you'll get a sense of what it's like to pull the trigger on a Ram SRT-10: a loud roar, followed by a cloud of smoke, and, suddenly, heavy metal flying through space. The only difference is that this truck's Viper-sourced V-10 firepower, good for a 5.2-second 0-to-60 run, surges smoothly at your back and not abruptly against your shoulder.

Dodge's Performance Vehicle Operations group has created more than just a Pirelli-melting, 500-horse cargo bed in search of a chassis. The Ram SRT-10 is a comprehensively well-matched 5150-pound performance recipe that turns a short-bed, standard-cab Ram into a sport-truck-cum-Trans-Am racer.
Photo 2/6   |   112 0401 03z 2004 Dodge Ram Srt 10 Pickup Engine
Installing the Viper's 8.3-liter, OHV, aluminum V-10 into the Ram's platform is philosophically straightforward, as the truck is factory-offered with a 300-horsepower, iron-block V-10 in HD form. Getting the job done, however, required numerous detail changes, including a revised intake system, oil pan, mounts, and cooling revisions. The only transmission offered is the same Tremec T56 six-speed manual used in the Viper.
And does this thing go. Our only complaint about the Ram SRT-10's iron-fisted powertrain is occasionally notchy shift action, due to the long, truck-style shift lever employed; it feels a bit remote during rushed, dragstrip shifts.
Photo 3/6   |   2004 Dodge Ram Srt 10 Pickup interior
We'd also enjoy a bit more auditory personality: The V-10's voice is almost too muffled, although some will feel that's an asset. Only under a properly mashed throttle does the Viper motor really bellow.
Steering-rack response is crisp, and there's braking muscle to spare in the form of 15-inch front rotors and 14-inchers in the rear. Viper power requires a massive tire-contact patch to be remotely useful. So, in the interest of "usefulness," Dodge fitted the SRT-10 with steamroller-like 305/40ZR22 Pirelli Scorpions.
We were prepared for the shaking and chassis booming often associated with oversized rolling stock and its barely manageable unsprung mass. But the suspension tuners at PVO have worked some magic. The ride, although not luxo-car smooth, is firm and not at all uncomfortable on good road surfaces. The only serious suspension-related edge is some rubbery chassis shudder on bumpy roads, where the laws of physics regarding minimal wheel travel and big-tire inertia won't be denied. Key to the truck's surprisingly obedient behavior: Bilstein shocks, shorter and stiffer springs, a rear anti-roll bar, a new front knuckle design, a one-inch ride-height drop in front, a 2.5-inch rear drop, and an effective traction-bar system. The result is a big, fast hunk that does what it's told.
Photo 4/6   |   112 0401 05z 2004 Dodge Ram Srt 10 Pickup Gauges
The SRT-10 spent some valuable aero time in the company's wind tunnel and learned a few lessons from Dodge's NASCAR Craftsman Truck program, too. Up front, a deep fascia with a splitter reduces lift. Out back, a rear wing reduces drag and adds up to 165 pounds of downforce at track speeds. When you need the bed, you can easily remove the wing and stow it on top of the bedrails. The bulging hood, nonfunctional scoop, and rear fascia with dual exhaust cutouts are unique to this sporting variant. Colors are simple: black, red, or silver.
Photo 5/6   |   2004 Dodge Ram Srt 10 Pickup front
Inside, you'll find softly stuffed but sharply contoured black leather buckets with "SRT-10" logos stitched across the backrests. The seat cushions and a deeply padded center-console lid are flat enough to accommodate a third, belted passenger. Looking sports-car sharp is a carbon-fiber leather-trimmed steering wheel. Behind the wheel is a full complement of large and easy-to-read, silver-faced gauges including a 160-mph speedo and a 7000-rpm tach. Dodge claims the truck will do 150, so that speedo's none too optimistic. Given that the V-10 delivers 90 percent of its 525 pound-feet at just 1500 rpm, a large portion of the tach face is likely to go unused.
Photo 6/6   |   112 0401 07r 2004 Dodge Ram Srt 10 Pickup Viper Badge
For now, the Ram SRT-10 stands confidently alone as king of the muscletruck hill. The 380-horse Ford SVT Lightning remains a player, but Dodge has it covered by 120 horses, and the current-generation F-Series platform is on its way out. The new, give-or-take-500-horse next-gen Lightning is as much as two years away. The nice but pricey Chevy Silverado SS, with a 7.0-second 0-to-60 and a 15.2/89.4-mph quarter runs a distant third. The Big Bad Dodge is a monster hauler that packs suspension, brakes, manners, visual attitude, and one heck of a kick to match.

2004 Dodge Ram SRT-10
POWERTRAIN/CHASSIS
Drivetrain layoutFront engine, rwd, 2-door, 3-pass, truck
Engine type 8.3L, 90° V-10
Valve gear OHV, 2 valves/cyl
Max horsepower @ rpm 500 @ 5600
Max torque @ rpm 525 @ 4200
Specific output, hp/L 60.2
Power-to-weight, lb/hp 10.3
Weight dist, f/r, % 55/45
Transmission 6-speed manual
PERFORMANCE DATA
0-60 mph, sec 5.2
1/4 mile, sec @ mph 13.86 @ 101.49
Braking, 60-0 mph, ft 122
600-foot slalom, mph 62.3
CONSUMER INFO
Base price $45,000 (est)
Price as tested $46,200 (est)
Basic warranty 3 yrs/36,000 miles
EPA mpg, city/hwy 10/14
On sale in U.S. Currently

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