May 28, 2024

Linkage Mag

Geared for the Automotive Life

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Unstoppable Appeal

Image: Courtesy of Bring a Trailer

Trends in the car market change faster than a classic British roadster loses oil. But the one trend that just won’t die is the red-hot truck market. In fact, it’s continuing to grow and expand.

Image: Courtesy of Bring a Trailer

Just look at the sale of a 2002 Dodge Ram 2500HD on Bring a Trailer for $76,000 — $79,800 all in — as evidence. A “new” twenty-year-old pickup with just 69 miles on the odometer, this Ram also happens to be from the golden era of diesels. Its straight-six Cummins engine and six-speed manual transmission is the most desirable setup — it’s basically the last analog diesel built before more sophisticated electronics and emissions became the norm. This is also the last year of this ’90s Ram body style — another plus, depending on your nostalgic sensibilities.

Does the $80k price seem high? Sure, but nostalgia and imminent usability are powerful things in the truck world. Trucks of this era have hit the twenty-year-old mark right as the market has come to a full boil, and there’s new nostalgia here, probably helped along by the complexity, plush fittings and associated costs of today’s new trucks. It is these same circumstances that that sent a 76-mile 1980 Ford F-250 Custom Styleside skyrocketing to a final price of $101,850 on Bring a Trailer in February 2021. Once cheap, then used up, now hard to find with delivery miles. Prices like these may seem like a fluke, but somehow they keep happening.

Image: Courtesy of Bring a Trailer

Just about everyone has fond memories involving a truck, whether it was in the 1950s or 1990s. Trucks don’t tend to be pretentious — and when it comes to classic examples, the appeal is more or less universal. No other segment of the market can claim that.

In the case of this Ram 2500, I expect it was pure sentimentality, not the trucks usability, that convinced the new owner to pay such a high price. While that Cummins engine is still capable of pulling out the ugliest of stumps, I don’t foresee this truck leaving the garage much based on its ultra-low miles and its near-perfect appearance. The value is there, but it’s tied up in the odometer and the truck’s condition just as much as it is in the truck’s configuration.

How much appeal does any modern pickup have if you can’t use it? Maybe it’s just the farm boy in me, but I would rather have a nice 30k-mile Ram of the same era for half the price. But even “half the price” isn’t what it once was. The tide continues to rise here, and the challenge is to pin down if trucks like these are the cause or the result. Figure that out and you’ll be able to apply it elsewhere.

As a lifelong fan of Dodge trucks, it does makes me happy to see a Ram like this holding its own against Chevy and Ford in the price realm. There’s a good chance that Dodge will be a market leader of late ‘90s pickups, but we’ll have to keep watching to see. Either way, I hope the new owner does get this Ram on the road once in a while.