Junkyard Find: 1982 Dodge Ram 50

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin

There was a time, when American truck shoppers were willing to tolerate the shame of driving small pickups, when the members of the Detroit Big Three couldn’t/wouldn’t build their own and thus sold rebadged Japanese trucks. GM had the Isuzu-built Chevy LUV, Ford had the Mazda-built Ford Courier, and Chrysler had various flavors of the Mitsubishi Forte aka Mighty Max. In 1982, you could get your Forte as a Mighty Max, a Plymouth Arrow, or a Dodge Ram 50. Though you could buy the Ram 50 until 1986, examples of this truck are very rare these days. Here’s one that I spotted in a Denver yard last week.

There was no mistaking this truck for a luxury vehicle. Cloth bench seat, manual transmission, no air conditioning.

Power came from the 2-liter Mitsubishi Astron L4 engine, which wasn’t quite up to, say, Toyota R reliability but made decent power.

The tape-stripe graphics were very much of their time.

Whitewall tires standard, in the “Ram 50 Royal,” whatever that was. One of the weirder ads of the Late Malaise Era.

Murilee Martin
Murilee Martin

Murilee Martin is the pen name of Phil Greden, a writer who has lived in Minnesota, California, Georgia and (now) Colorado. He has toiled at copywriting, technical writing, junkmail writing, fiction writing and now automotive writing. He has owned many terrible vehicles and some good ones. He spends a great deal of time in self-service junkyards. These days, he writes for publications including Autoweek, Autoblog, Hagerty, The Truth About Cars and Capital One.

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  • Nichodemus Nichodemus on Dec 19, 2012

    I drive an '87 2wd, long bed model regularly, with just over 200k miles. It was my grandfather's, and he ordered it with no power steering, no A/C, no radio, nothing. Vinyl seats, no visor mirrors or tint at the top of the windshield. It's as basic as it gets. I learned how to drive a manual using it. I still haul a riding mower in the back a lot (also from 1987) because of that low bed. I can do stuff with that truck that I can't do on my '97 F150 because of its smaller size. It's been a great truck and I hope it will keep going a long time. Only current problem with it is it needs a set of lifters pretty bad. Sounds like a diesel now.

  • Andy D Andy D on Jan 01, 2013

    The trouble with Rangers was they got about the same MPG as the F150. other than that, I love my '94.

  • Duke Woolworth The advantage of EVs is the luxurious quiet, even in the cheapest/smallest ones. Passengers can speak in normal volume, and the quiet is less stressful. And no oil changes.
  • Akear They may sell 3500 annually. After a few years it will be gone. Why would anyone in their right mind purchase this over a Prius.
  • Slavuta American capitalism model - public investment, private profits
  • Slavuta This is what BlackRock was supposed to do, not the taxpayer money. Then they will tell us we don't live in socialism for oligarchs. For everyone else - eat zee bugs
  • ToolGuy Only $2.7 million per job.