Remember the Ram Adventurer, a new no-frills, budget-conscious canvas for sport truck enthusiasts to build their dream machine? It’s still heading to production, although the company announced today the model is now known as the Ram 1500 Express.
Why the change in name? As we originally reported, the Adventurer moniker — ripped from a historic Dodge trim level — was simply a working title. Much as we’d have loved to see Chrysler revive the CSS model line, the company settled on Express, seemingly in deference to the famed Dodge Li’l Red Express models built between 1978 and 1979.
Unlike its namesakes, the new Ram Express isn’t exactly a muscle car wrapped in pickup truck clothing. It does, however, give buyers a little extra power underhood without completely draining their bank accounts.
As is the case with the fleet-inspired Ram Tradesman, the Ram Express is built off a regular cab, short-box, two-wheel-drive Ram 1500 model. In lieu of the typical standard V-6, Chrysler’s 5.7-liter, 390-horsepower Hemi V-8 — a $2300 option on base ST models and a $1300 upgrade on SLT-trim trucks — is standard equipment.
Also included in the Express packages are a monochromatic paint treatment (typically not found outside of the more expensive Sport model), 20-inch aluminum wheels, fog lamps, tinted windows, air conditioning, a six-speaker CD/MP3 audio system, and a 3.55:1 rear axle ratio. Options include a cloth-trimmed split bench seat (a vinyl-clad version is standard), sliding rear window, cruise control, power windows, an upgraded audio system with a USB input, and if so desired, four-wheel-drive.
Skip the options, however, and the Ram Express rings in at $23,830, including $975 in destination charges. That isn’t half bad, considering you currently build a Hemi-equipped Ram 1500 ST ($24,905) or SLT ($27,340) regular cab for that money.
Will buyers use the cash savings on dealer-installed accessories? Chrysler hopes so, but we hope those seeking a true modern day L’il Red Express will instead turn to Mr. Norm’s for the vertical exhausts, wood-lined cargo box, and gold pinstriping that made the original so famous.