1983 Dodge Ram Van Actually an Economical Station Wagon

Traditional rear-wheel-drive station wagons still sold well enough by 1983, but the Chrysler front-wheel-drive minivans would appear for the 1984 model year and begin the inexorable decline of the Detroit wagon. Just before the Voyager and Caravan appeared, Dodge attempted to position the 109.6-inch wheelbase B-150 van as a lightweight, fuel-efficient alternative to the full-size Chevrolet and Ford wagons. This was the Dodge Mini Ram Wagon.

My family had a big passenger van instead of a station wagon— a Chevy Sportvan Beauville— back then, and it did hold many more passengers and much more cargo than any wagon… but the ride was painfully industrial and you couldn’t hear yourself think over the sound of oil-canning sheet metal and creaking 1935-style suspension components. A close look at the fine print of this magazine advertisement reveals that the Mini Ram only competed (on weight, price, and fuel economy) with those big, smooth-riding wagons when it had the 95-horsepower Slant-6 engine and, presumably, the three-on-the-tree manual transmission. Yes, a giant block of a van, scaling in at 3,770 pounds and powered by 95 horses.

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