When Chrysler stopped the production of its A-series van and pickup and replaced them with the B-series van, it kind of left a gap in Chrysler's line of pickup trucks. In 1979, that gap was eventually filled by the Dodge Ram 50. This small pickup truck was built by the Mitsubishi Company and was marketed in the U.S. by Chrysler Corporation.
While this isn't a Chrysler-built product because the automaker didn't have the engineering capacity to come up with small cars and trucks during that time, the Ram 50 was able to gain followers over the years, and it fared well in the market until its eventual demise in the 1990s.
1979: D-50's arrival in the US market
The D-50 arrived in the U.S. market riding on a 109-inch wheelbase and with a maximum payload of 1,400 pounds. Providing power to the D-50s were Mitsubishi's 2L and 2.6L four-cylinder engines paired with a standard 5-speed manual tranny on base models and five-speed on higher trims.
Despite being a truck, the D-50 or first-generation Ram 50 was able to provide its consumers with a car-like ride, thanks to its A-arm front suspension. The conventional leaf spring suspension, on the other hand, gave the truck its ability to maintain directional stability when loaded. It also got a nice interior with standard bucket seats and carpet, which, during that time, was a nice upgrade for full-sized trucks.
In 1980, the 2.0-liter four-cylinder became the base engine while the Sport model received the 2.6-liter engine. Two years later, the Dodge Ram 50 was offered as a four-wheel-drive vehicle. Named Power Ram 50, this variant was sold in the American market between 1983 and 1985.
1987: Launching of Dodge Ram 50
The D-50 was redesigned and was named Dodge Ram 50 in 1987. The new Ram 50 has a standard 72-inch bed with an optional bed that's longer by 16 inches. It was powered by a 2.0L SOHC engine that was able to crank up 109 horsepower. This truck also has an adjustable steering column, carpet, as well as tinted glass as standard features. The Power Ram model was offered in four-wheel-drive variant.
That same year, Chrysler introduced Dodge Dakota, the successor of the Ram 50. But, the latter was continuously marketed for another seven years until 1993. The reason could be because the Ram 50 was a compact truck and its sales would not affect the market performance of the Dakota, which was the mid-size market. Because of the difference in size and price, which gave the Dodge 50 its own niche, the demise of the Ram 50 was speculated to be more of Chrysler's desire to cut down its ties with Mitsubishi rather than due to product overlap.