Dodge Ram Van
|Dodge Ram Van|
|Assembly||Windsor, Ontario, Canada|
|Body and chassis|
|Body style||3-door van
|Platform||Chrysler B platform|
The Dodge B-Series was a full-size van marketed under the Dodge brand by the Chrysler Corporation (1971–1998) and later DaimlerChrysler (1998–2003). Starting in 1981, the B-Series was sold as the Dodge Ram Van; the passenger variant was known as the Dodge Ram Wagon and Plymouth Voyager.
DaimlerChrysler discontinued production of the Ram Van and Ram Wagon after more than 30 years of production following the 2003 model year, replacing them with the Dodge Sprinter. All Ram Vans and Wagons were built at the Pillette Road Truck Assembly plant in Windsor, Ontario, Canada, which has since been demolished.
Built on the B platform (later AB), the full-size vans entered production for the 1971 model year. Due to a one-welded-piece "Uniframe" design, the Dodge platform was lighter and stronger and featured a lower cargo floor than the competition, at the expense of NVH. The resulting lower center of gravity improved handling versus the competing products. The B-series van was popular for cab-over motorhome conversion until Chrysler Corporation's egress from that market during their financial difficulties in the late 1970s.
All generations of the B-series van feature similar construction, with only small variation from era to era. The most pronounced changes were to the front fenders, hood, grille, and bumpers, which tended to follow their full-size truck counterparts in each era. Much of this was a result of the need to meet Federal "crashworthiness" standards. Additionally, the first generation's side door was mounted back several inches, using a fixed panel between the passenger's side front door and the side door, allowing for more access to the side door without interfering with the front passenger's seat. This panel was eliminated in 1978 which was a transitional year for the B-series van. Similar construction for the entire 32 years of production made the Dodge Van very popular with upbuilders, service companies, and other fleets due to the compatibility of installable options from year to year without necessitating a redesign.
Dodge first pioneered the extended-rear 15-passenger van favored by school and church groups and dominated this market until overtaken by Ford in the 1990s. It offered a sliding side door as well as a unique side-swinging tail door with a full-width window.
It was also popular in class-C RV and ambulance conversions.
The minivan, pioneered by Chrysler, eventually took over the passenger wagon market. With the Sprinter, Chrysler left behind American-style full-sized vans in favor of more fuel efficient European-style models.
The B-series van was available with nearly every engine used in a rear-wheel-drive Chrysler product during its production. Six-cylinder engines included the 225 in3 Slant Six I6 (1971–1987), the 3.9 L LA V6 (1988–1991), and the 3.9 L Magnum V6 (1992–2003). Small-block V8 engines included the LA-series 318 in3 (1971–1991), 360 in3 (1972–1992), the Magnum 5.2 L (1992–2003), and the Magnum 5.9 L (1993–2003). Big-block V8 engines were the 400 in3 and 440 in3 (1976–1978). Certain model years came with an optional 5.2-liter engine utilizing Compressed Natural Gas, with a range of up to 300 miles (480 km) on a full tank, and CNG-powered Ram Vans were classified as an Super Ultra Low Emission Vehicle in 1999. 
Dodge was the last of the four major full-size van makers to market a short-wheelbase van and passenger wagon. The rest of the Big Three took their shortest full-size vans off the market early in the 1990s.
DaimlerChrysler discontinued production of the Ram Van and Ram Wagon after the 2003 model year, replacing them with the M-B-based Dodge Sprinter.
For the first eight model years, the different configurations of B vans were given names. Sportsman passenger vans had side windows and passenger seating not present in the otherwise identical Tradesman models. These vans were also marketed as Plymouth Voyagers prior to the 1984 application of the Voyager name to Plymouth's new minivan, as well under the "Fargo" name in Canada in 1971–72. The same range of gasoline-powered slant-6 and V8 engines was offered in these vans as was offered in the Dodge D Series pickup truck.
The Sportsman, Tradesman, and Adventurer names were phased out after 1980, replaced with the Ram Van moniker, which included the Ram Wagon for passenger models. As with the D-series trucks, B100 and B150 models were 1/2-ton rated, B250 models were 3/4-ton, and B350s were one-ton. The body shell and most fixtures would be one of the longest running of any US vehicle, remaining nearly identical from the vans' introduction in 1971 through their discontinuance in 2003, while Ford and GM would go through two or three generation platform redesigns.
Model Year Changes
|Body and chassis|
|Body style||2-door or 8–15 passenger van|
|Engine||225 cu in (3.7 L) Slant-6
360 cu in (5.9 L) LA V8
318 cu in (5.2 L) LA V8
400 cu in (6.8 L) B V8
440 cu in (7.2 L) RB V8
|Body and chassis|
|Related||Plymouth Voyager (1979–1983)|
|Wheelbase||150 SWB: 109.6 in (2,784 mm)
LWB: 127.6 in (3,241 mm)
|Length||1988–1990 150 SWB: 178.9 in (4,544 mm)
1988–1990 150 LWB, 250 & 350 SWB: 196.9 in (5,001 mm)
1998–1990 250 & 350 LWB: 222.9 in (5,662 mm)
1991–93 B150 (Wagon Only): 187.2 in (4,755 mm)
1991–93 B250 & B350 SWB (Wagon Only): 205.2 in (5,212 mm)
1991–93 B250 & B350 LWB (Wagon Only): 231.2 in (5,872 mm)
|Width||1988–1990: 79.2 in (2,012 mm)
1991–93 Wagon: 79.0 in (2,007 mm)
1991–93 Van: 79.8 in (2,027 mm)
|Height||1988–1990 150: 78.3 in (1,989 mm)
1988–1990 250: 79.9 in (2,029 mm)
1988–1990 350: 80.5 in (2,045 mm)
1991–93 B150 Wagon: 78.1 in (1,984 mm)
1991–93 B250 Wagon: 78.6 in (1,996 mm)
1991–93 B350 Wagon: 80.5 in (2,045 mm)
1991–93 B150 Maxi Wagon: 80.7 in (2,050 mm)
1991–93 Van (Extended): 80.1 in (2,035 mm)
|Engine||Magnum 5.9L 250 hp (190 kW) V8|
|Wheelbase||1998–2003 1500 SWB: 109.4 in (2,779 mm)
1994–97 1500 SWB: 109.6 in (2,784 mm)
2500 & 3500: 127.6 in (3,241 mm)
|Length||1500: 187.2 in (4,755 mm)
2500: 205.2 in (5,212 mm)
3500: 231.2 in (5,872 mm)
|Width||79.8 in (2,027 mm)
1994–96 Van: 79.0 in (2,007 mm)
|Height||79.5 in (2,019 mm)
3500 & 2500: 79.9 in (2,029 mm)
Dodge pioneered the American 15 passenger van genre with the introduction of the Maxiwagon along with the other front engine B series vans that were new for 1971. Ford didn't produce a 15 passenger van until 1978, and GM did not introduce theirs until 1990. Little changed on Dodge vans produced between 1971 and 1977, with only a grille change from metal to plastic for the 1974 model year. 1978 was a transition year for B series vans, consisting of the nose from 1977 and earlier vans (with a one-year only Dodge symbol in the grille) but with a completely new dashboard and rear end cap. On the standard length vans, the rear end cap just contained new larger tail lamps, but the extended length Maxivan and Maxiwagon had a completely redesigned rear extension which was longer and had large windows that wrapped around the corners for better visibility. This was unique to the B vans, and this same extension was used until the B vans were discontinued in 2003. On the 1971-77 models, the rear side doors were set back about two feet towards the rear wheelwells, with a filler panel between them and the front doors. Passenger models had a small window between the front and rear doors. In 1978, the filler panel was removed and the doors were moved forward to be next to the front passenger door, similar to the Ford and Chevrolet vans.
In 1979 the van received a redesigned front end, including a new grille with wraparound turn signals. Lower end models had single round headlights, while Royal Sportsman and other high-end vans received four rectangular headlights. The van would keep this body style and the 1978 dash intact with only grille changes all the way through the 1993 model year.
In the late 1970s, Chrysler marketed the B van in their lineup of "Adult Toys", along with the D-Series-based Dodge Warlock, Dodge Lil' Red Express Truck, and Dodge Macho Power Wagon, plus the Dodge Macho Ramcharger.
Plymouth received a rebadged variant of the Sportsman, called the Voyager for the 1974 model year. While never as popular as the Dodge version, Plymouth marketed the Voyager in this format through 1983, after which the nameplate was transferred to the new minivan that was introduced for 1984 as a rebadged Dodge Caravan.
In 1986 the Ram Van was given a new grille to resemble those of the 1986 Ram trucks. In 1994 the entire front end was redesigned with flush headlamps to resemble the all new Dodge Ram pickups, and new taillights wrapped around the sides of the van. The 1978-style dash was kept.
In 1998, the van went through the most thorough update since its introduction in 1971. The engine was moved forward in the chassis to improve crash protection, and the front end sheetmetal was redone with a longer nose to accommodate this change. Moving the powertrain forward also resulted in a smaller dog house (engine access cover) which increased front interior room and allowed better access when moving between the front seats. The 1978-style dashboard and door panels were finally replaced with a modern design using components from contemporary Chrysler products. The side view mirrors were now break-away units mounted to the sail portion of the front window openings. This change resulted in the elimination of the front door vent windows. The van remained mostly unchanged until it was discontinued after the 2003 model year.
Dodge vans, particularly Tradesman vans from the 1971–1977 model years, were very popular as the basis for many custom vans during the custom van craze that occurred during the mid to late '70s and early '80s. Dodge capitalized on this craze, creating a factory customization package called the "Street Van" package. This was advertised alongside the Lil' Red Express and Warlock trucks as "Adult Toys". The Street Van package consisted of a "Street Van" logo on the passenger and driver's side door in lieu of the Tradesman logos, chrome trim on the grille and windshield, simulated wood grain inlays in the steering wheel horn cover and passenger side glare shield, five slot chrome wheels or white spoked "off-road" type wheels, chrome front and rear bumpers, chrome trim on the gauges, smaller chrome side view mirrors, patterns and plans to create custom interiors, and membership in the "Dodge Van Clan". This package was available from the 1976 model year until it was discontinued in the early '80s. This was not an overly popular option from the factory, and Street Vans are somewhat rare. The chrome metal Street Van emblems found on later Street Vans (emblems through mid-1978 were stickers) in good shape are quite valuable to collectors or restorers.
The name "Kary Van" comes from the cube shape of the cargo section of the van. Dodge used the van body for the front end of its 1973–1978 cube-vans usually with dual rear axles and heavy-duty 1-Ton suspensions. Many examples of these cube-vans can still be found on the streets today as they were typically owned by companies that kept them in service for some time. Thanks to regular maintenance, some still see service.
Revival of the Ram Van
In 2012 a Dodge Caravan-based cargo van, previously sold as the Dodge Caravan C/V, was renamed the Ram C/V Tradesman. In 2013, a new full-sized van based on the Fiat Ducato was introduced and sold under the name Ram ProMaster, which is the modern descendant of the original Dodge B-Series full-size van. The Ram ProMaster City, a Fiat Doblo-based replacement for the Ram C/V Tradesman will be introduced in 2014. The Promaster City is said to be a modern descendant of the Dodge A100 compact van.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Dodge Ram Van.|
- 1974 Plymouth Voyager promotional postcard (McLellan's Automotive)
- Readers' Rides; 1974 Plymouth Voyager (Grassroots Motorsports)
- "Mammoth Chrysler warehouse rises from plant’s ashes". Daily Commercial News. Retrieved 2012-10-10.
- "Dodge RAM ProMaster: an American van with European origins.". curiositesautomobiles.blogspot.com. Retrieved 2014-11-22.
|Dodge / Ram truck timeline, North American market, 1970s–present|
|Coupé utility||Rampage||Ram 750|
|Compact pickup||D-50||Ram 50||Ram 50|
|Full-size pickup||D Series||D Series||Ram (D Series)||Ram||Ram||Ram||1500|
|Van||A100||Tradesman||Ram Van/Ram Wagon||Ram Van/Ram Wagon||ProMaster|
|Heavy-duty truck||LCF/C Series|
|After Fiat S.p.A. acquired Chrysler LLC in 2009, trucks were no longer designated as Dodge, but exclusively as Ram. Brown color indicates Ram models|