2003 Dodge Ram SRT -10
monster performance with the heart of a Viper
Some might ask why would anyone put the biggest gas motor made in the U.S. into a regular- cab, shortbed pickup truck? If you have to ask, you probably wouldn't understand.
With the creation of the Performance Vehicle Operations (PVO) group, DaimlerChrysler brought its expertise from the Chrysler Group, Mopar Performance, as well as its other racing groups (not to mention AMG), and came up with some stunning examples of high-performance muscle.
The first three vehicles off the operating table were the SRT-4 Neon, the SRT-10 Viper, and the vehicle soon to rock the pickup-truck world: the SRT-10 Ram. It's got 500 hp and 500 lb-ft of torque. Enough said. Basically, this is the muscle truck to end all muscle trucks, with more horsepower than just about any other street-legal vehicle sold by an O.E. Loaded with a new 503-cu-in. Viper V-10 motor and six-speed manual transmission, we have no doubt this two-wheel-drive pickup will be a huge traction challenge for all those who dare to climb into the cockpit. With a reported 5.0-sec 0-60-mph times and less than 13 sec in the quarter mile, we don't expect this pickup to see much hauling or towing duty wherever it finds a home.
"The last thing anyone might expect from Dodge is its very own Viper-powered truck," says John Fernandez, director of PVO. "But this concept is just too good to leave to the aftermarket." Preliminary testing by Dodge has the Ram SRT-10 running the classic 0-100-0 mph in just under 18 sec.
With a newly modified, quick-ratio, rack-and-pinion-steering setup, front independent suspension, and 13-in. vented Viper discs, handling and stopping power is designed to keep up with the unprecedented amount of off-the-line thrust. In addition, the largest wheels sold on any light-duty pickup highlights the muscle. The 24-in. alloy wheels and extra-wide 305/35R24 BFGoodrich g-Force T/A grippers will make this Ram stick to the ground as if epoxy has been smeared onto the treads. Custom-tuned shocks, heavy-duty springs, and anti-roll bars tighten up the suspension while overall ride height is lowered 1.0 in. from factory to give the Ram that sleek slicing motion of certain reptilian beasts. It should be noted the unnaturally sized footprints left behind more than double the factory-tire contact patch, hugely improving grip for the growl.
Outward appearances attempt to combine the two disparate worlds of menacing ugly with big-rig beauty. Subtle and modest it isn't. Massive and broad-shouldered, yes. "Threatening," "poised to attack," and "look out!" might come to mind if you see this thing growing in your rearview mirror. Body-molded air ducts on the hood and front spoiler are as much for cooling and practical reasons as they are to boost the physical stance and intimidating appearance. "We were determined not to make this another boy-racer truck," says Rick Aneiros, vice president, Jeep/Truck Color and Trim Design. That qualifies as an understatement.
Although, technically, this is a concept, much here is thoroughly dialed in and ready to go. It's no secret the word of the day at DaimlerChrysler is "real world," and if D-C invested the time and effort to parade this truck around, our guess is it's going to put a minimum of 90 percent of it into production. Maybe more.
Inside the truck, gripping leather seats with red piping and carbon-fiber accents on the dash carry the high-performance theme throughout, along with the Viper silver-face gauges. Our only disappointment is in the seat choice. Five-point harnessed bucket seats would seem more applicable; however, a thick leather steering wheel, satin-chrome center console, and unique shift knob and boot give the Ram a powerful sport coupe feel--without the cramped headroom.
Naturally, the final note here should be exact pricing and on-sale dates, but Dodge is being cagey about that. We expect volumes for the SRT-10 quite low for the first year in order to discover what kind of demand is out there. Like SVT and its Lightning, a halo vehicle like this will have an exclusive audience and most likely an exclusive pricetag. Expect first-year volumes to be less (maybe much less) than 2000, meaning few of them will be on the road and will probably carry a real-world premium for those dealers big enough to get one. Look for suggested-retail pricing to dip under its $70,000 SRT-10 Viper sibling. Our guess, realistically, is in the $50,000 range. Not sure how many people are ready for a $50,000 pickup that you can't even sleep in, but, then again, who cares. Way up here, monster performance usually carries a monster pricetag, but will do things only monsters can dream of.
This could be the beginning of a new truck war. Was that Chevy we just heard scratching the drawing boards?-TT