1986 Dodge Ramcharger SUV

Mecum’s “Summer Special” auction in August 2020 included three examples of the 1980s Ramcharger. The one that did the best was a 1986 Royal S.E.—the top-of-the-line for that year. Its hammer price was $15,500.

“Tough in the Rough.”

For 1986, Dodge’s Ramcharger SUV received a new crosshair grille, which had a strong resemblance to their early 1970s pickup truck design. The side mirror assemblies were simplified but other than that, there was little change besides some new colors.

The Ramcharger’s standard engine was an LA 150 bhp 5.2 liter/318 ci V8 with a two-barrel carburetor. It came with a four-speed manual if four-wheel drive was chosen and a three-speed automatic if two-wheel drive was preferred. An LA 175 bhp 5.9 liter/360 ci V8 with a four-barrel carburetor went for an additional $261. With the base powertrain, fuel economy was rated at an uninspiring (and somewhat uncompetitive) 11 city/14 highway by the standards of the day in an SUV with a curb weight that started at 4,045 pounds. A capacious 35-gallon gas tank did give a respectable 360 to 395-mile range with a 10% fuel reserve.

1986 Dodge Ramcharger brcohure cover
1986 Dodge Ramcharger brochure cover

Standard exterior and mechanical equipment on the $11,534 Ramcharger included tinted glass, chrome front and rear bumpers, two-wheel drive, power front disc/rear drum brakes, power steering, and P235/75R15 tires (a size still readily available) on 15 x 6.5-inch wheels. Inside, Deluxe vinyl low-back front bucket seats and an ETR AM radio with a digital clock was included. The four-wheel-drive version of the Ramcharger went for an additional $1,229.

Among the many individual options available were aluminum road wheels ($350), a heavy-duty alternator ($145), intermittent windshield wipers ($55), air conditioning ($740), and an ETR AM stereo/FM stereo radio with a cassette player and a clock ($360).

A few options packages were available. Prospector Package I ($768) included a bright grille, Deluxe wheel covers, a Ram’s Head hood ornament, Prospector nameplates, and a convenience package. Prospector Package II ($1,251) added the Royal S.E. décor package and power door locks. Finally, the top-of-the-line Prospector Package III ($3,269 2WD/$3,186 4WD) added two-tone paint, air conditioning, power windows, speed control, and a tilt steering column.

The Ramcharger’s sales peaked at 37,055 in the 1985 model year and would never again come close to that total. With little changed for 1986, sales slipped substantially, with only 20,815 Ramchargers produced compared to 37,310 Chevrolet Blazers and 57,488 Ford Broncos.

Along with other eighties SUVS, Ramchargers are attracting significant collector interest. According to Hagerty’s valuation tools, all the money for a loaded 1986 Ramcharger Royal S.E. 4×4 in #1/Concours condition is $29,100, with a far more normal #3/Good condition AD-100 version going for $9,400. Ramchargers are often available in the Hemmings Motor News classifieds and on eBay Motors. As I write this post, a Black 1989 Ramcharger with tan bucket seats and 61,000 miles is for sale on Hemmings for $20,000.

Make mine Charcoal Gray Metallic, please. Other Dodges I have written about are the 1985 600 Club Coupe and the 1985 Omni GLH.

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