What you need to know:
A left hand drive double cabin that runs on a 5900cc six cylinder in-line turbo diesel engine, the Dodge Ramcharger performs better off-road than on-road
Rajiv Ruparelia’s 2002 Dodge Ramcharger is without doubt a head turner. Its gigantic 315x75 tyres sit comfortably on the car’s 16 inch rim size and give it a raised ground clearance enabling the car to manoeuver the
A left hand drive double cabin that runs on a 5900cc six cylinder in-line turbo diesel engine, the Dodge Ramcharger performs better off-road than on-road. It is fitted for rough off-road driving, but equally comfortable on tarmac roads.
Built with 245 horsepower (HP), mileage-wise, depending on your driving skills and the weight of your acceleration foot, the vehicle gives you approximately 10km per litre of fuel for off-road performance and approximately 11km on-road.
The slight difference is that while off-road, you will need to engage one gear after another, depending on the road terrain. With off-road performance, the engine running is never constant, which cannot be the same while on-road where the engine performance is constant and gears are held in one position for some time, until they are disengaged. The Dodge Ramcharger has a sitting capacity of five.
“Because it is raised, you have to drive such vehicles at not more than 120km/hr but they are powered to perform faster. The vehicle originally had a lower ground clearance but this particular one was raised for better off-road performance. Some of the modifications include a four inch lift kit with increased suspension height and off-road shock absorbers, springs and a heavy duty suspension system,” says John Burrows Lumu, a rally car mechanic.
The Dodge Ramcharger has the capacity to cover more mileage before it is due for service but because of harsh weather and road conditions such as dust, coupled with the use of adulterated fuel, it is serviced after 5,000km.
“I use it during rallies where I connect a trailer that carries my rally car. Even with the rally car load, the car performs faster, swifter and smoother as if it is not towing anything. The bigger size of the engine means it can also tow heavier loads without any impact on fuel consumption,” Ruparelia explains.
He adds that although the vehicle has been taken to Fort Portal, Hoima, Mbarara and Jinja cities as well as Sembabule District for the different rallies, the furthest he has driven it to was to Kenya, where it took a day to reach.
Lumu says the raised Dodge Ramcharger is unique from the other double cabins on Ugandan roads since it cannot easily be exposed to mechanical damage. It also has heavy duty suspension bushes and shocks causing it to remain in the best roadworthy condition.
Service and maintenance
The annual service and maintenance cost of the vehicle is Shs5m. For example, the fuel filters are shared with those of Cummins, an American company that manufactures engines and makes a single type of filters with most engines, including that of the Dodge Ramcharger. Therefore, a straight six cylinder uses the same filter as the V8 version.
However, some of the parts, such as the tyres, cost Shs1.5m each and are imported from the US because their size is not available in Uganda. The vehicle does not break down often, and because it is not usually driven, the tyres are replaced after two to four years.
According to all.par.com, an online portal, the Ramcharger came with power brakes (discs up front, drums in back), a bucket seat for the driver, electronic ignition, and a 24-gallon gas tank.
Options included a tilting bucket seat for the front passenger, beverage cooler in the front console, skid plates, hardtop or soft-top roof, steel roll bar, cruise control, and 35-gallon gas tank. The Ramcharger was far from the luxury SUV of today, though still premium at the time.
The Dodge Ramcharger was available in the United States from the 1974 to 1993 model years as the brand’s challenger against vehicles like the Chevrolet K5 Blazer and Ford Bronco. Like the other two, the Dodge used a pickup chassis as a starting point and fitted a hard cap where the bed usually was to create a space for additional seating. For the first generation from ‘74 to ‘80, the covering was removable, but the automaker fixed it in place for the second-gen.
The starting point for this rendering is the Ram 1500 Rebel.