Dodge’s monster Christmas-tree eater gets sheathed in the black stuff for SEMA.
1981-93 Dodge Ramchargers are riding the two-door SUV wave
For weekend camping getaways and light towing, 1981-93 Dodge Ramchargers are a roomier V-8 alternative to Jeeps of the same era. They’ve kept their niche among Mopar fans, too. Many Ramcharger diehards shun these later models, as they have a fixed roof as opposed to the removable tops like their Blazer and Bronco competitors, yet their short wheelbases and optional 4×4 utility make them nimble and capable off-roaders.
If you’re not familiar with our Hagerty Vehicle Rating, it’s the result of crunching the numbers we collect from the industry, which includes insurance quote activity and auction sales. Comparing the data to other models allows us to rank vehicles performance in the market overall. A vehicle that’s keeping up with the market would have an HVR score of 50, and those that are outperforming the market are scored as high as 100.
With a solid HVR score of 67, it should come as no surprise that 1981-1993 Dodge Ramchargers are enjoying the same rise in popularity as their two-door full-size SUV brethren, the Ford Bronco and Chevy Blazer. Both have been topping the Hagerty Vehicle Rating lately and were the last remaining full-size SUVs on the market after the SJ Cherokee was retired in 1983. The median Ramcharger value over the last two years has increased 6.5 percent from $15,450 to $16,450. That’s keeping above the rate of inflation over the same time period.
Interestingly, it’s the two bookends of the second-generation Ramcharger production that have the highest values. The most expensive Ramcharger is the 1981 Macho 4×4 equipped with the 175-hp, 360-cu-in V-8, with a condition #2 value of $20,600. Closely following it is the 1993 Ramcharger 4×4 Canyon Sport and LE submodels powered by the 5.9-liter Magnum V-8, the LA-V-8’s successor. The #2 values for those are $20,200 and $20,300, respectively. Its Plymouth Trail Duster stablemate just barely edges it out, with 1981 Macho getting a $1000 premium over the Dodge in its final year of production.
Average prices rose about 4.6 percent in the last two months, but Blazers of the same era were up about 16 percent and Broncos of the same period about 2-5 percent. The number of Ramchargers coming to auction peaked in April of 2016, with 21 crossing the block over the previous 12 months. Since then, that number is steadily down to 15 in the last year.
While the number coming to auction has dropped, the three highest sales that we have seen have been in the past year: A 1988 Ramcharger sold in Kissimmee for $26,950 and a 1989 sold for $23,100 at Indy. This low-mile, two-owner Ramcharger also did well, selling for $23,200 in Scottsdale early in 2019.
The late-production models with the Magnum V-8 engines are the best performers, as the big-blocks were lone gone by the time the second-generations models debuted. Earlier carbureted and TBI models are weak by comparison and the Magnum engines have the best cylinder heads of the bunch. There’s also quite an online community in tuning the Magnum V-8s.
As with the the half-ton pickups they’re based on, both the Bronco and Blazer outsold their Dodge counterpart when these vehicles were new, so Ramchargers are harder to come by today. That mirrors the muscle car scene, where Mopars have a smaller (but fiercely dedicated) audience. If you’re not absolutely set on the Ford or Chevy, keep Ramchargers in mind in your search for an off-road weekend vehicle. They might not be soaring to the top as fast as Broncos and Blazers, but it’s something a little different that’s sure to stand out.