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Dodge Ram SRT-10: The Viper in Pickup Truck Clothing
Back in 2004, if you loved the Dodge Viper but couldn’t afford it, the next best thing you could get was one of the most outrageous pickup trucks ever created. While it didn’t look anywhere near the legendary sports car, it came with the same humongous V10 and many other high-performance goodies.

Dodge Ram SRT-10: The Viper in Pickup Truck Clothing

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The idea of combining a four-wheeled workhorse with a sports car dates back to the late 1970s when the same Chrysler division released the 225-hp Li'l Red Express. Since then, other manufacturers borrowed this insane recipe, which led to some incredible machines like the Ferrari-slaying GMC Syclone.

In 1996 Dodge decided to build its second performance truck and stuck a second-generation Viper engine under the hood of a Ram. Called VTS, it was only a concept for that year’s Chicago Auto Show, where it debuted alongside the new Viper GTS.

Though mass-producing the VTS was never seriously taken into consideration, it seems that the idea of unleashing a Viper-powered truck on American streets never left the minds of some folks at Chrysler. Therefore, less than a decade later they were right back at it again.

With the blessing of new owners Daimler-Benz AG, the PVO (Performance Vehicle Operations) division was tasked with developing the vehicle in the early 2000s. The base was the smallest and lightest Ram pickup available: the regular cab, short bed third-generation 1500.

After being stripped down to the bone, engineers modified the chassis, braking system, rack and pinion steering, and the independent front suspension. The truck was now lower to the ground and stood on custom Bilstein shocks, performance springs, and a set of 22-inch wheels that mimicked the ones used on the Viper SRT-10.

The team also incorporated a fifth shock absorber on the rear Dana 60 axle to prevent wheel hop during wheel-spin.

Next up was the legendary 8.3-liter aluminum-block V10, freshly updated for the third-generation sports car. It was placed as low to the ground as possible to improve weight distribution and made 500 hp (373 kW) along with 525 lb-ft (712 Nm) of torque, propelling the 5,130-pound (2,327 kg) regular cab to 60 mph (97 kph) from a standstill in 4.9 seconds. The engine was linked to a Tremec T-56 six-speed gearbox which came with a floor-mounted Hurst shifter.

The exterior got a fair share of unique panels that made the truck stand out from its standard siblings. Two of the most recognizable were the humongous front bumper with integrated ducts for improved brake cooling and a redesigned hood that donned a big scoop Dodge called “power bulge’. The ten-cylinder was more than a foot (30 cm) away from it, so this feature was mostly cosmetic, although the manufacturer claimed it aided engine cooling.

Another completely impractical yet extremely cool exterior feature was the rear spoiler fitted atop the tailgate. It prevented owners from loading large items into the bed, but, thankfully, Dodge provided a screwdriver and instructions on how to easily remove it.

The interior was by far the worst part of the truck. The leather-trimmed seats, Hurst shifter, a red start/stop button, and SRT-10 badge were the only differences from the mundane cabin of a standard Ram 1500.

The fact that no thought or effort was put into the interior design is highlighted by the foot parking brake that was placed close to the clutch pedal and the available third seat that nobody could use because of the shifter.

Despite these shortcomings and appalling 10.5 mpg (20.9 liters per 100 km) combined fuel consumption, the Ram SRT-10 was the coolest, most powerful pickup ever created when it was released in 2004. It also became the world's fastest production truck that year when NASCAR driver Brendan Gaughan set both the Guinness World Record and Sports Car Club of America's record with an average speed of 154.587 mph (248.784 kph).

Those who wanted one had to pay about $50,000 for the privilege, a steep price for a full-size truck yet more than $30,000 less than what the Viper with the same engine demanded.

For 2005, Dodge introduced a quad cab version for the customers who wanted more interior room. It was exclusively delivered with a 4-speed automatic transmission, had a higher towing capacity but was also a little slower.

Production ended after the 2006 model year, by which time 10,046 units were built. These days, an example in excellent shape can be brought for less than $50,000 so if you love this terrific truck, now is the time to buy one.

To understand why it’s impossible not to like this beast, we recommend the video below posted on YouTube by Jamboolio.

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