The Ram 1500 is a powerhouse of a truck. It has won tons of awards, is impressive on any metric, and is a reliable name as a 4×4 titan. It is a great truck. So what is it about the 2020 Ram 1500 Classic that is so appealing? What is it about homages and callbacks to classic designs that are so tempting to us? With trims like the Warlock available, an even further tribute to the 1977 show model, it is clear that Dodge is tapping into a sense of nostalgia.
This phenomenon is not just happening with the Ram. Ford is bringing back the long-extinct Bronco to compete with the Wrangler as an off-road SUV, with a design that harkens back to the 60’s. Movies and TV have become infamous for a long line of reboots and remakes of classic stories and films that were beloved by previous generations. What is it about our nostalgia, even nostalgia for a time we don’t belong to, that makes these reimagined classics from cars and trucks to movies and TV such a powerful draw? Is the 2020 Ram Classic just a hollow cash grab like so many summer blockbuster flops?
The Power of Nostalgia in Design
The Ram 1500 Classic is built with all the power and technology under the hood as the all new 2020 Ram 1500. Unlike Hollywood, which has all the modern flash on the outside and none of the hard-earned quality on the inside, the 1500 Classic has the heart of the modern champion while sporting the exterior and features that made the 2008 model so popular. This doesn’t seem to be a case of a nostalgia bait and switch.
It seems like more and more, especially in a rapidly changing world that is getting faster all the time, some of us wish we could go back to a simpler age. Not necessarily to a better time, but a time when we were younger. When we had fewer concerns, responsibilities, and there was a long road in front of us, full of possibilities. Having a car with the style you remember from back in 2008 can transport you to a different time and place.
Maybe you remember hopping into the spacious rear cab while your dad drove you to your campsite, and you would look up at the knobs of the console and wishing you could sit up front so you could turn them all frantically. The old model could have been what you picked up your prom date in, not a fancy limo, and you remember having to help her get in without ruining her dress. Staring out at the night sky while lying in the back of the pickup, wondering what the future would hold for you. Memory and nostalgia are powerful, and when looking to get your next truck from Dodge, if you want to save some money and don’t need all the latest and greatest tech that can be found in the standard 2020 Ram 1500…that nostalgia could be what gets you behind that leather-wrapped wheel.
One of the most appealing parts of the Classic build is the high level trim, the Warlock. Aside from having an awesome name, which makes it sound like a villain from a Dungeons and Dragons cartoon, the Warlock is also a throwback to an older Dodge design. You wouldn’t guess it based on its looks, but the Warlock was a late 70’s Dodge truck design. Originally made as a show model, it was so popular that it quickly got a road release. The 2020 Warlock doesn’t share any of the actual 70’s looks (you won’t see any solid oak sideboards or gold accents), but it does share some of its darker, more sinister aesthetic as well as some more modern upgrades that make it more of a hat tip to the original Warlock than a true reimagining.
While the base Classic design harkens to the older build, the Warlock is built to intimidate. It has a chiseled, yet sporty grill, black tow hooks, black powder-coated bumpers and accent fender flares, black semi-gloss 20-inch wheels, projector headlamps, LED fog lights, tail lamps, and a 1-inch suspension lift on 4×4 models.
The interior shares most of the same basic features as the basic Classic with lots of room and touch screen console, but the stealth style of the exterior bleeds into the inside as well. The inside is stylish with a black-diesel gray two-tone interior that has lots of space and plenty of tech (including Android Auto and Apple Play).
New vs. Classic
Comparing the 2020 Classic Ram 1500 to the new 2020 Ram 1500, what they are bringing under the hood is comparable, but it is clear once you take a closer look that the Classic model isn’t packing the same punch as the newer one. Both are available with a 3.6L V6 or a 5.7L Hemi V8 complete with an 8-speed automatic transmission. However, the newer 1500 has the potential to be much more fuel-efficient and adept than the Classic.
When it comes to interior tech, it is very obvious by the inherent design of the Classic that it is inspired by the less advanced tech of the 2008 model. That being said, the classic build was ahead of its time, so it still holds up pretty well. The biggest difference is the digital console screens. The 5th gen 1500 has a massive, tablet-sized touch screen decked out with all the latest and greatest. It honestly looks and feels more like a luxury SUV or car interior than a pickup. Especially when compared to the Classic, which does have a touch screen, but it is far more limited (with navigation, music, and device capability) than the new 1500.
All things being equal, though, the Classic is much more affordable. Starting at $28,200, it is around 4k cheaper than the new model, which has an MSRP of $32,145. Considering it is fairly standard for models to have slightly less powerful and expensive builds and trims, it is pretty cool that the more economic model of Ram also happens to have its own unique style. Combined with the option to take on the Warlock (honestly, the name alone would sell it to me) for even more flair if you want to go closer to the dark side. Dodge has provided some awesome options if you want to save a few bucks on the new 1500.
Looking Back & Driving Forward
It is interesting to see how the trends in so many industries have been leaning on our longing for the past in recent decades. They say nothing is original, so maybe this is a phenomenon that comes in cycles. We constantly hear about ‘the good old days,’ and it is clear there is something inside us all that longs for a time we can never recapture. Whether it’s the no-nonsense build of a late, turn of the millennia pickup or the dark, menacing flair of a 70’s showpiece; Dodge seems to be plugged into what catches our eye and gets our mind spinning on how we could grab that past again, even for just a moment. All the same, it is important to remember that the Ram 1500 Classic is so good because it’s built smart and strong with the new, powerful technology of the 2020 Ram. So maybe nostalgia is great as a dressing, but nothing beats progress roaring under the hood.