Dodge’s Viper-powered muscle truck is finally striking the collector market
The mid-2000s was a wild time in the pickup market. Before the Raptor, TRX, and ZR2 Bison were all vying for a niche of the off-road market, the Big Three were peddling high-powered street trucks. Ford had the Lightning, Chevy had the Silverado SS and the 6.0-liter/six-speed-powered SSR, and Dodge, even before it was putting Hellcat V-8s into everything, was being Dodge by offering a 500-hp Viper V-10 in its light-duty Ram pickup. The Ram SRT-10 only lasted for three model years, but it’s on its way to making a big impression among collectors seeking a curious collectible with lots of power and a unique, odd-fire V-10 soundtrack.
There’s a persistent myth in the automotive sphere that the Viper’s V-10 engine was pulled from the Dodge Ram heavy-duty pickup. The truth of the matter is that the Viper engine debuted first; the truck V-10, other than sharing its bore spacing and displacement with the early Viper engines, is totally different.
When developing the Viper V-10, Chrysler relied on Lamborghini’s aluminum engine-casting prowess to develop the new engine, which was basically an updated take on the LA architecture that gave us the 318, 340, and 360 V-8s. Those V-8s powered Dodge, Chrysler, and Plymouth cars since 1964 and would evolve into the Magnum V-8 in the early ’90s. This new Viper engine made some major changes to the valvetrain and was cast from aluminum, with unique intake, cylinder heads, connecting rods, and pistons compared to the iron-block Magnum V-10 that would come in 1994, three years after the Viper’s introduction.
That iron-block V-10 was never put into a half-ton pickup and therefore never into a regular-cab, short-bed pickup. It also never produced 500 hp like the angry, 8.3-liter mill that helped the Ram SRT-10 become one of the quickest pickups ever built. The initial SRT-10 pickups were launched in 2004, 13 years after Viper’s intro, and were all regular-cab, short-bed models with six-speed manual transmissions. To increase the appeal, Dodge sold Quad Cab versions using an automatic transmission beginning in 2005. Production for both versions ended in 2006.
Back in 2019, our editors and Valuation specialists put the Dodge Ram SRT-10 in our Bull Market list, noting that even though prices had dipped 7 percent from 2017–18, it clearly had the hallmarks of a future collectible, including high performance and relatively low production—for an American pickup, anyway.
Things have changed in the two years since the Ram SRT-10 made the Bull Market roundup. An aggressive buying market has helped SRT-10 pickups post their largest growth ever in the Hagerty Price Guide, with #2 (Excellent) values up 46 percent for regular cabs at $54,200 and up 11 percent for Quad Cabs at $31,700. That means that over the past five years, regular cabs are up 117 percent and Quad Cabs are up 59. Notable sales include a 245-mile specimen that sold at Mecum’s Indy 2021 sale for $68,200 and a 1500-mile example that sold for $79,800 on Bring a Trailer in January of 2021.
Hagerty’s senior auction editor Andrew Newton dug into the details and demographics of Ram SRT-10 owners and found even though older buyers are interested in these powerhouse pickups, with baby boomers comprising a third of the market, it’s actually the younger sets that are overrepresented. Gen-Xers and millennials combine to make up 60 percent of collectors, but they are responsible for 66 percent of insurance quotes on these Viper-powered pickups. As always, having younger buyers interested in a car is a good omen for future collectability and shows that specialty pickups can follow the same trends as their performance-car counterparts.