By on December 17, 2012

Two doors. 390 horsepower. 8 cylinders. Two seats. Just a hair under $25k. Sound too good to be true? It might be one of the best muscle car deals going, as long as you’re willing to drive a pickup.

While perusing the Ram website for someone looking to buy a pickup, I came across the Ram Express; with a regular 6’4″ bed and rear-drive, it can be had with a 5.7L Hemi engine and a 6-speed automatic transmission for just $24,825. Next year, the 8-speed automatic will be the sole option. For those of us in the snowbelt, four-wheel drive will bump the cost up closer to $28,000, which makes it less of a value proposition. Note that in Canada, the Express starts at a mere $22,395 for a 4×2 single cab – the sole option is four-wheel drive, and a bigger cab is not available.

The V6 Mustang is rightly touted as the muscle car bargain of the century, but the Ram Express offers its own proposition. No, it won’t handle like a V6 ‘Stang, nor will it return the same fuel economy. But it can haul more, carry people in greater comfort (if you opt for the Quad or Crew Cab versions) and can be had with four-wheel drive. Like the Mustang V6, the base price merely serves to get buyers in the door – the real desirable versions need more options and dollars thrown at them – but the intent remains the same. And while a truck may not put up the same on paper acceleration numbers as a conventional car, they can still haul ass just fine. The Express is also extremely basic. If nothing else, it’s an intriguing, all-American alternative to the traditional muscle car – one that can tow 9200 lbs, should the need ever arise.

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66 Comments on “Is This The Best Muscle Car Deal That Nobody Knows About?...”


  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    I don’t see how this is more comfortable than any normal-spec Mustang. Is the Mustang’s ride really that bad? I have ridden in Ram trucks, and I wasn’t impressed.

  • avatar
    86er

    The new Little Red Express for a new generation, and for the same reason.

    • 0 avatar
      ott

      Now THAT is something I could definitely get behind! Other than some stickers, fancy exhaust pipes, bed treatment and rims, would it really cost that much more for Dodge (sorry, RAM) to make it? I’d certainly consider buying one!

    • 0 avatar
      MeaCulpa

      Got a brother named Jimmy. And my teeth look silly. Break it down, now. On that note, where the hell has step-side trucks gone? 454 step side, sweet.

    • 0 avatar
      kmoney

      http://staceydavid.com/projects/drag-n-wagon

      They did something in a similar vein on speec channel’s “Gearz.” As with most of these shows, the on the cheap part ended up on the cutting room floor, but still a cool idea nonetheless.

  • avatar
    Mrb00st

    ChryCo seems to be the home of budget hot-rods disguised as normal cars. They’ve had quite a history of this.

    The old Spirit R/T was ridiculously fast for 1992 at $17k
    The Neon SRT-4 was faster than most 40k cars for 20k

    and now you *can* get an Avenger SE V6 for $19,690. Not that you WANT a rental car, but it’s hard to argue with a super-smooth 283bhp V6 and 6-speed auto for under 20 grand.

    • 0 avatar
      PrincipalDan

      Avenger V6 = sleeper. Not that it would be that great of a car but you could likely surprise some people with nearly 300hp under your foot. Just make sure you spec “spoiler delete”. Plus the dealers are offering deep discounts on Avengers the last time I checked.

      • 0 avatar
        geozinger

        +1. Avenger SE with V6 should be one heck of a ride, really.

        Now, F I N D I N G one (at least in this part of the midwest), that’s a different matter. Last I looked, admittedly a few months ago, they were hard to find.

        I guess the folks who shop on price don’t want to pony up for the V6 model.

        It reminds me of the Super Bee…

      • 0 avatar
        tatracitroensaab

        lol put the 300 hp engine in a last gen sebring convertible. It would be the ultimate sleeper, but woud you really want to drive it????? it was arguably the worst new car in america

      • 0 avatar
        Mrb00st

        same story with the 2012 Impala. Last year of the current (rental) body style. ALL trim lines come with 300bhp 3.6L DI V6, 6-speed auto. I LOVED driving these in my ~6months selling chevys. They haul ass, about on par with the thirsty old Impala SS (5.3 V8/4A/303bhp) but like 7 mpg more on the highway. They will smoke tires and torque steer like the dickens for 25,860. Oh, and TONS of room.

  • avatar
    Spartan

    If all you care about is straight line speed and the ability to haul ass, literally and figuratively, then yes. If you like to turn corners faster than average, I’d say no.

    It would be better with body colored trim.

  • avatar
    jacob_coulter

    I remember lusting after “legendary” trucks in the early 90′s like the original Ford Lightning and Chevy 454 SS. This truck would easily smoke both of them, yet it completely flies under the radar. I also think Dodge has the best looking trucks right now, they never tried to go after the “soccer mom” look.

    It’s a heck of a deal all around, but I also owned a Dodge Dakota 5.9 R/T. While it was a fun and fast truck, it made me a believer that Chrysler did indeed make disposable junk. It wasn’t just an untrue stereotype.

    It’s a shame they can’t get their arms around the quality problems because they make many products I genuinely like. I keep hearing “that’s the old Chrysler” but every Consumer Reports roundup I see has Chrysler continually at the bottom, and I have plenty of friends with anecdotes to back that up. The videos of Chrysler assembly line workers smoking weed and slamming 40s on their breaks (and subsequently rehired) doesn’t help their cause much either.

    • 0 avatar
      bikegoesbaa

      I have plenty of friends who work in engineering or quality at Chrysler or T1 Chrysler suppliers.

      They tell me not to buy Chrysler products, and readily admit that they only drive them because the employee deals are so great and it’s sort of expected if you’re an employee.

      It’s not that they’re bad cars, it’s just that other cars are so much better.

  • avatar
    dswilly

    I remember reading years ago that the fastest American car in the ¼ mile in 1978-9 was a Chevy short bed pick-up with the optional 454. Not sure if it was true but sounds like it could have been. The Stang/Camaro/Vette of that era were nothing to brag about.

    • 0 avatar
      luvmyv8

      It was either that or a police spec ’78 Dodge Monaco/ Plymouth Fury with the police only 440 Magnum in it’s last year. They for sure had a higher top speed in the neighborhood of 125-127 MPH, even with all the smog stuff attached.

      As a point of reference, the hottest Mustang was the King Cobra with a 129hp 302, the Z28 Camaro with a 190hp 350, the Corvette had roughly the same power, the Trans Am if equipped with the Pontiac 400 had 220hp. The Dodge ‘E86′ police 440 had 255 hp.

    • 0 avatar
      rpn453

      “In 1978 the Dodge Lil’ Red Express was the fastest American made vehicle from 0 to 100 MPH as tested by Car and Driver magazine.”

      http://www.dodgeconnection.com/LilRedInfo.html

      http://www.allpar.com/trucks/dodge/lil-red-truck.html

    • 0 avatar
      porschespeed

      In US Spec, even a 930 Turbo would get creamed by a decent sedan today in a 0-70 sprint.

      The mid to late 70s were very, very dark days. The few cars that weren’t slow and ugly, were still slow.

  • avatar
    icemilkcoffee

    Yes, but is this going to be a stripper truck with wind-up windows, no headliner and rubber floor mats in place of carpeting? Not that theere is anything wrong with that- my current ’90 Ford Ranger is exactly such a creature. But most people would find that as acceptable as an ox-cart.

    • 0 avatar
      DenverMike

      I believe the point of the Express was to throw in power windows/locks, carpet, 20″ wheels, CD MP3, fog lamps along with color-keyed grill/bumpers and a good amount of performance and convenience features.

      Otherwise, the Express would be a redundant base stripper with the optional Hemi.

      http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/04/the-ram-express-cheap-fast-good/

      Felt headliners are standard equipment on everything this side of John Deere Tractors, btw.

      Also, that’s not an Express that’s pictured above.

  • avatar
    imag

    The whole Express line represents a great deal. Nice find.

    It frustrates the hell out of me that this kind of value cannot be found in the compact/mid-sized truck market. The margin Toyota must get on the Tacoma at this point, with all the R&D long paid for, is absurd.

    I really don’t want a full size truck, but the prices for mid-sized trucks make it feel foolish not to consider one.

  • avatar
    racer-esq.

    Mustang V6: 11.48 pounds/HP
    Ram Hemi Express: 12.07 pounds/HP
    FR-S: 13.79 pounds/HP

    This is actually much better than I expected for the Ram Express, with it weighing 4,707 pounds in base form.

    Of course fuel economy is a different story, if you prefer to drive instead of bench race.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    If I wanted a truck just to say I drive a truck I’d absolutely look at a Hemi Ram 1/2 ton standard cab/short bed. Put a fiberglass cover on the bed and maybe lower the suspension, you could really haul butt.

  • avatar
    racer-esq.

    What is needed is a Ramcharger version of this. E.g.:

    http://dodge-parts.uneedapart.com/images/dodge-ramcharger-parts.jpg

    http://www.curbsideclassic.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/1999-01-Dodge-Ramcharger-e1335302933680.jpg

    http://www.curbsideclassic.com/curbside-classics-american/curbside-classic-1989-dodge-ramcharger-le-mopar-joins-the-4×4-craze/

  • avatar
    cRacK hEaD aLLeY

    Há! I drive the ultimate V8 Sedan: a Chevy Avalanche 2WD

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      So a huge tall-standing truck with 48 pounds of plastic cladding and zero off-road ability. Why not just buy an Aztec and save some money on fuel?

    • 0 avatar
      PrincipalDan

      It’s closer in spirit to a mid-60s Impala than the current Impala is. ;)

    • 0 avatar
      MeaCulpa

      I see that “ultimate” has another connotation in colonial parlance. The mysteries of the English language.

      • 0 avatar
        cRacK hEaD aLLeY

        Exactly. The ultimate. I see that there are, indeed, a few readers in here capable of using more then, ah, say, 48 of their neurons at a time.
        Alas, my ultimate example of American Excess Driving Machine unfortunately does not come with the 48 lbs of peeling black cladding anymore. You see, the stupid cladding would be useful at the local Whole Foods Parking lot as she does tend to not fit into a small car parking space (the ones I commonly use) without Avalanching a couple of inches into the adjacent parking slots. So I do get the eventual door ding at the bottom 1/4 of my doors. Finally understood why GM had all that stuff around the waistline on the 1st gen Avalanche. They must shop at Whole Foods too. Or own DuPont stock.
        But not all is lost since (as someone wisely noted here) they kept the rollbar for the day owners decide to enter the Tecate Score Baja 100
        Uhm. Only GM would have the guts to (appropriately) name a car after a natural disaster.
        Anyway, where was I? Oh, yeah, The rollbar: That was a major factor on my buying decision. Gotta keep the family safe ya know?
        Well, that and the fact that they put close to $16K on the hood to initiate talks (I went in there looking for an Aztek so to disturb my neighbors, but it looks like they somehow sold out of Pontiacs and Saabs.
        It’s not a dad vehicle. Like Dan says, it’s a current version of a mid 60′s Impala: Comfortably seats six Obese Americans with space to spare plus their six over-sized suitcases, plus their six golf bags and there is some space left for a couple of cases Diet Tab and Milwaukee’s Best (Light). 330hp/330lbs on tap at around 1700 rpm or so, 6 speed, locking rear diff, discs all around, active suspension.. it rides better than my 2000 330Ci and uses as much fuel as the FourRunner V8 it shares a driveway with.

      • 0 avatar
        MeaCulpa

        @cRacK hEaD aLLeY

        If GM hadn’t added all the IMO awful stuff behind the cab it would probably have been the nicest pseudo truck out there. One devoid of all those excesses bits and bobs would still have looked a bit ass heavy but far nicer. Fitted with the silverado (or rather GMC equivalent) front end it would have looked even better.

        On the other hand I think that the last gen Caddy Seville was the last good looking american sedan and that the demise of the northstar rendered caddy pointless. So my views should certainly not be taken as gospel or representing anything other than my, rater poor, ideas about style and content.

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        I think it’s great people ding you when parking your huge truck in the small car space where it doesn’t belong. It’s akin to parking diagonally across two spaces to keep people away from you, and making it inconvenient for other people parking in the same lot.

  • avatar
    Junebug

    Bring back the Ranchero and El Camino, except this time, use the front of the Charger and have a 5.7 Hemi!

    • 0 avatar
      Mandalorian

      I agree. It would count as a light truck, which would be good for manufactures. They would also contend for the Most efficient truck with a 3.6L V6 and 8-speed.

  • avatar
    Prado

    Ford offers a similar sport/value oriented package with the STX. Same V6 and V8 as the Mustangs.

  • avatar
    holydonut

    Don’t forget the Ram trucks have coil-spring rear suspension. Helps with the ride quality and minimizes some of the bouncy/floaty feel of regular pickups with leaf springs.

  • avatar
    sobamaflyer

    You have completely lost your noodle…..

    But then I re-read and you said “Muscle Car” (instead of “Sports car”), which isn’t supposed to turn, carry on.

  • avatar
    30-mile fetch

    I like the idea of this truck, a somewhat minimalist functional tool with a great engine. Until I see the price of $29K for a 4×4. No sir, no way. Perhaps you are paying for the sheer volume of metal required to make one of these.

  • avatar
    Volt 230

    I have stated many times that the Pickup truck, specially the V8, took the place of the defunct mid size 2 door RWD American car in the 80′s and people call me crazy.

  • avatar
    BrianL

    Value proposition, no. Going buy EPA numbers, Ram cost $1100 more per year in fuel. Not sure what a base Mustang cost north of the border, but I am guessing it won’t take long for fuel costs to exceed the initial savings.

  • avatar
    catachanninja

    One of the many reasons I love my 01 Ranger so much, the 4l v6 puts out a bunch of horsepower for the weight, I won’t win any races, but it can fly

  • avatar
    el scotto

    Dammit, you let the secret out. Truck guys have know for years that a truck with a ginormous engine is lots of fun in a straight line. You can smirk away while taking highway ramps at speed.Those are the twisties on most people commute. It make me shudder to think more people may figure ths out.

  • avatar
    raph

    Don’t encourage these truck owning louts, there are “muscle” trucks and there are “muscle” cars and they are not to be confused.

    Yes, I do hate trucks, and I hate the level of status they have gained in the US. They are work vehicles and should have remained nothing more. However I can appreciate one’s passion in vehicles even if I think they should be driven to extinction.

  • avatar
    wormyguy

    I actually out of boredom a little while calculated what new car or truck has the best MSRP/HP ratio – it’s the aforementioned Ram. Excluding light trucks, it’s the Mustang GT (cheapest V8 F150 also betters it). Considered doing the same comparing price to power/weight ratios but was not quite bored enough for that.

    • 0 avatar
      luvmyv8

      It’d be a cheap way to get a Coyote 5.0L, especially if you sprung for a F150 XL,which is the base model work truck…. though the STX is more to my liking, came really close to getting one honestly.

      • 0 avatar
        mikeg216

        Got a rental quad cab f150 xl, 2wd, with the 5.0 late on a Saturday afternoon for a sweet deal, by the time they got it back it needed a new set of rear tires……

  • avatar
    mikeg216

    Here in murica, just south of Canada, you can purchase a quad cab 4×4 hemi ram express 1500 for 24k that is a hell of a deal, im waiting for the year end 2013 sale when they clear out all the 6 speeds.

  • avatar
    tp33

    I have a 2012 RC Express that I paid about 21.5K for out the door. It is quickly becoming the best vehicle I have ever purchased. For gearheads, it’ll hit 60 in the mid 6 second range, do smoky burnouts all day long, and lean like a tower of Pisa when “tossed” into a corner. It also tops out at around 14 mpg. I can name about 2 dozen 60′s era muscle cars that fit that profile perfectly, so Derek’s not too far off at all. For girlfriends, the ride is probably more comfortable than that of their cars. True I have a tonneau cover and tools that settle the rear suspension a bit, but my g/f and I have logged thousands of miles in this plain jane, two door pick-up, and she prefers the ride over that of her mid 2000s Accord every time. Don’t believe it? Take one for a spin. Betcha don’t make it five minutes before pre-opel Buick calls asking for its highway ride back.

    Finally, for guys (and gals) who turn a wrench from time to time, this sucker has handled every truck duty thrown at it. I’ve pulled a 7500 lbs boat without even blinking. For my yearlong home renovation project, I’ve saddled the bed with just about every building supply in the book (including full sheets of plywood and drywall), most recently a whopping 1750 pounds of bamboo flooring (which I’m pretty sure exceeds the payload specs). Truck handled it all like a champ. I even canceled my yardwaste disposal contract with the city. Did all my pruning and trimming in one day, loaded the bed, and hauled it off. Also made about half a dozen Craigslist purchases (furniture, fridge, etc.) that simply would not have been feasible otherwise. So let’s recap. 390hp/400tq, faster than many vintage muscle cars, old school Buick comfortable, ridiculously useful, and cheaper than a top trim Focus. Why would you *not* jump all over one of these?!

  • avatar
    danio3834

    A friend of mine ordered his ’06 Ram just like and he loves it. Short box, reg cab, Hemi, RWD, 3.92 axle with limited slip. It moves nicely and actually returns pretty decent mileage due to being so light in comparison to the crew/4wd.

  • avatar

    I have known a few young guys who bought entry-level Hemi Rams as cheap-but-manly performance rides. Put a loud exhaust on it and you’re good to go. It’s probably the closest thing on the current market to an old-school Road Runner… it ain’t fancy, but it’s fast, and it kinda has its own cool.

  • avatar
    Moparman426W

    Gearheads knew about this truck before it was even introduced, and were talking about buying them and adding performance upgrades.


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