If you’re looking for a high-performance pickup truck, the Dodge Ram SRT-10 is still the king. Oh, sure, the Ford Raptor is newer and more impressive, and it has better technology, and it’s probably faster. But the Ram SRT-10 had a V10 — and it remains the most powerful pickup truck ever made.
I recently had a chance to drive a Ram SRT-10, which is something I’ve wanted to do for a long time. I say that because I owned a Dodge Viper, and when you own a Viper, you always kind of wonder: What was the deal with that Viper … pickup? Frankly, other people wonder this, too, because the idea of a V10-powered manual transmission truck is pretty insane — but Dodge made it.
In fact, Dodge made it from 2004 to 2006, and it was offered in two variants: You could get a 4-door model, dubbed the “Quad Cab,” or you could get a 2-door version. The Quad Cab was far more practical, of course, but the benefit of the 2-door version was substantial: It came with a manual transmission. All the 4-door Ram SRT-10 models were automatic, all the 2-doors were manual.
But regardless of which version you got, you were getting a Viper truck. They saw to that with the powertrain, which was an 8.3-liter V10 that made 500 horsepower — still more than any truck ever, even though this was 15-plus years ago. These days, a new Raptor gets close with 450 horses, but it’s still not on the Ram SRT-10’s level. And it certainly doesn’t have a massive V10 or a manual transmission.
The 2-door version of the Ram SRT-10 was notably fast, reaching 0-to-60 mph in 4.9 seconds and a top speed of 154 mph — huge numbers for a truck, then and now. It was also rated at 15 miles per gallon on the highway and an amazing 9 mpg in the city, which is laughably horrible — but when you got one of these trucks, you didn’t mind. You knew what you were getting into.
And, indeed, that’s how I felt when I climbed behind the wheel: I knew about the absurd power, and the ridiculous engine size, and pretty much everything else, and I wanted to test it out. And what I discovered is that this truck is basically as absurd as I was always expecting it would be.
Here’s the situation: This truck is pretty fast, and the manual transmission lever is surprisingly precise, but the thing that really draws you in is just how exciting it is. It’s a crappy interior, and a truck that clearly doesn’t have all sorts of modern driving aids or luxurious electronic safety features. You just have a short cab, short bed version of a full-size truck, with a huge engine, with a manual transmission, and you just kind of let it rip.
You are not, of course, rewarded with particularly good handling, nor does the truck really give off much in terms of excellent steering feel — but that’s kind of the fun of it. They haven’t really done much to this truck other than hot rod it by tossing in a huge V10, and now it’s your turn to take over the reins.
And take over, you do. The exhaust note is truly fantastic, and it’s one that you don’t really hear anymore, nor will you really ever hear it again, because nobody’s ever going to make anything like this again. Which is probably a good thing, because the fuel economy and the general ridiculousness of this truck implies that one run of these is probably enough. But still, it’s a hoot to drop your foot and feel that V10 come to life, propelling you forward — even if it’s not insanely quick by modern standards. It’s still a blast, and it still gives you a kick, even today.
Unfortunately, as a package, this truck is ridiculous — it has basically no frills and really is just a Viper engine in a work truck. It’s not something I’d own, but it’s something I’m glad someone made — and an automaker, no less, rather than some guy in his garage tinkering on weekends. Chrysler has made a lot of crazy cars, but the Ram SRT-10 will certainly go down as one of the craziest. Find a Dodge Ram SRT-10 for sale