The “OBS” Pickup You Should be Buying: Why the ’94 -’01 Dodge Ram is an Emerging Classic
Old pickup trucks are hot right now, especially those sold between the late 1980s and late 1990s. Enthusiasts often use the term "OBS" to describe these trucks, or at least the GM and Ford versions.
If you want to know about the specifics behind the "OBS" movement and the appeal of these GM and Ford pickups, we've got it all covered right here.
But beyond those F-150s, Silverados and Sierras—there's a third full-size pickup from this era that should be equally worthy of your attention. That would be the Dodge Ram of course, specifically the one sold between 1994 and 2001.
To put it simply, this was a groundbreaking truck when it was released, and we've covered the reasons why.
The Mopar Alternative
But how does the '94-'01 Ram compare to its Ford and GM counterparts when it comes to being a project vehicle in today's market?
For starters, it should be cheaper. Though they've always had their fans, the '94-'01 Rams have never been as sought-after as the F-150 and Silverado, even though in many ways it is the "better" pickup, with a lot of features that were ahead of their time back in the '90s.
Let's say you have a budget of about $5,000 for a half-ton project truck. If you want a Ford or Chevy, that money will get you something that's indeed, a project. It might run and drive, but cosmetically your work will be cut out for you. And that's if you get lucky.
With the Ram, $5,000 should still be able to get you a pretty nice truck in today's market. No it won't be perfect, but it should be devoid of needing any major mechanical or restoration work right off the bat. Or if you want to up your budget closer to $10,000, you should be able to find a nearly mint example.
Aftermarket Support & Upgrades
These trucks were sold with a variety of engine options, but if you are looking at half-ton Ram 1500s, you'll most likely be dealing with a V6 or a 5.2L or 5.9L Magnum small block V8.
None of these engines are especially powerful by today's standards, but there is a decent aftermarket to hop up the Magnum V8s. Or if you really want a power boost you can look into a modern Gen III Hemi swap.
No, putting a Gen III Hemi into a '94'-'01 Ram won't be as easy or cheap as dropping an LS into a mid '90s Silverado, but it's still an achievable goal that shouldn't destroy your pocket book. And as the trucks get more popular, aftermarket support for these swaps should only grow.
As for the rest of the truck, aftermarket options won't be as plentiful as the Ford or Chevy, but you should still be able to find just about anything you'd want, be it suspension, exterior or wheels and tires.
The Next Big Thing?
As with so many other vehicles from the '80s and '90s, pickup trucks that were once seen as disposable are now being swooped up by collectors and enthusiasts. And this can leave a lot of gearheads feeling left behind.
But if an "OBS" Chevy or F-150 is out of your budget but you still want a cool '90s truck to fix up, the '94-'01 Dodge Ram is well worth a look.
This way you'll not only have more in your pocketbook for restoration or aftermarket upgrades, you'll have a truck that stands out from the crowd and stands strong on its own merits.
More From Driving Line
- Looking for a deeper dive on the HD version of the '94-'01 Ram? We've got it all covered right here.