Game Changer: This Look Back At The Game Changing 1989 Cummins Powered Dodge Ram Is Awesome

Game Changer: This Look Back At The Game Changing 1989 Cummins Powered Dodge Ram Is Awesome

So much of automotive history is evolutionary that is can be difficult to place a pinpoint on when a certain trend or shift happened in the business. The argument about the “first muscle car” is a great example of this. Now, when it comes to trucks there is 100% a waypoint to reference in the development of the modern pickup and it is the 1989 Dodge Ram when it became available with a Cummins inline six turbodiesel. THAT right there was a moment that changed the trajectory of pickup trucks forever. Today, the idea of a high horsepower, monster torque diesel engine in a three-quarter or one ton truck is commonplace. Hell, even in the half-ton segment now.

In 1989 the only diesels people had seen in trucks outside of the small foreign four bangers were the naturally aspirated 6.2L GM and the 6.9L IDI Powerstroke that the Fords used. Both of those were lumbering, lazy, and while reliable not anything that a normal buyer would have gone seeking out. The Cummins was way different. Why? It made the truck fast.

All of a sudden it was not just this clattering thing that smelled bad and went slow. This was a truck engine from a truck engine legend in Cummins and when backed with a 5-speed stick, it wasn’t just comparable to the gas engines, it kicked their asses.

It would not be long before Ford and GM realized that they were in a hole needed to up their diesel game in a major league way. Eventually this escalating war gets us to today where 1,000 lb-ft engines from the factory are in the nose of the big three trucks and the fact that Cummins is still there, slugging it out with an inline six is perhaps the best part.

This is a great little piece of video.

Press play below to see this profile on the game-changing 1989 Cummins Ram –

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5 thoughts on “Game Changer: This Look Back At The Game Changing 1989 Cummins Powered Dodge Ram Is Awesome

  1. 71C10SWB

    We (Cummins) recently restored the first two test mules that were used to sell Chrysler on the idea. One is in our lobby museum in the main Cummins Office Building, the other is at our history center.

      1. 71C10SWB

        I’ll get in touch with one of the Marketing guys and see if we can pull something together. There are a few videos and articles out there concerning the first trucks, but it never hurts to provide a little more information.

  2. Loren

    That a body/chassis and engine came together from different companies representing disparate corners of industry into one package, and were marketed to the regular public keeping their separate identity (Dodge! Cummins!), I think was a unique and interesting thing. Also, kinda risky, it would’ve taken the way-in-third-place Dodge down into a joke if it didn’t work…’cause who would pay 10K more for a motor that weighed a thousand pounds and had 160hp? They got their reputation and pretty soon, everybody. At the point of 1994 turbo-intercooled Dodge trucks were the coolest thing going in 3/4-ton & up trucks and Cummins was becoming a household word.

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