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Dodge Ram van
Recreational Vehicle.JPG
ManufacturerChrysler Corporation (1971–1998)
DaimlerChrysler (1998–2003)
AssemblyWindsor, Ontario, Canada
Body and chassis
ClassFull-size van
Body style3-door van
4-door van
3-door wagon
4-door wagon
PlatformChrysler B platform
PredecessorDodge A100
SuccessorDodge Sprinter

The Dodge B series was a range of full-size vans that were produced by Chrysler Corporation from 1970 to 2003. Through their production, the full-size vans were sold under several different nameplates. Most examples were sold by the Dodge division, although rebadged versions were sold by the now-defunct Fargo and Plymouth divisions. Despite many customer requests, the B-series was not available in the desired 360 V8 model until 1972.[1][2]

Although Chrysler would make two redesigns of the B-platform van, much of the exterior sheetmetal would remain nearly unchanged over 32 years of production, making it one of the longest-used automotive platforms in American automotive history. For 2003, DaimlerChrysler introduced the Dodge Sprinter (produced by Mercedes-Benz), making the B-platform van the last full-size van designed by Chrysler; Ram Trucks currently markets the Ram ProMaster (a rebadged Fiat Ducato).

For its entire production run, Chrysler produced the B-platform vans at the now-demolished Pillette Road Truck Assembly plant in Windsor, Ontario, Canada.[3]


Built on the B platform (later AB), the full-size vans entered production for the 1971 model year. Due to a one-welded-piece "Uniframe" design, the Dodge platform was lighter and stronger and featured a lower cargo floor than the competition, at the expense of noise, vibration, and harshness (NVH). The resulting lower center of gravity improved handling versus the competing products. The B-series van was popular for cab-over motorhome conversion until Chrysler Corporation's egress from that market during their financial difficulties in the late 1970s.

All generations of the B-series van feature similar construction, with only small variation from era to era. The most pronounced changes were to the front fenders, hood, grille, and bumpers, which tended to follow their full-size truck counterparts in each era. Much of this was a result of the need to meet Federal "crashworthiness" standards. Additionally, the first generation's side door was mounted back several inches, using a fixed panel between the passenger's side front door and the side door, allowing for more access to the side door without interfering with the front passenger's seat. This panel was eliminated in 1978 which was a transitional year for the B-series van. Similar construction for the entire 32 years of production made the Dodge Van very popular with upbuilders, service companies, and other fleets due to the compatibility of installable options from year to year without necessitating a redesign.

Dodge first x mark pioneered the extended-rear 15-passenger van favored by school and church groups and dominated this market until overtaken by Ford in the 1990s.[citation needed] It offered a sliding side door as well as a unique side-swinging tail door with a full-width window.

It was also popular in class-C RV and ambulance conversions.

The minivan eventually took over the passenger wagon market. With the Sprinter, Chrysler shifted from American-style full-sized vans in favor of more fuel-efficient European-style models.

Third-generation Dodge Ram van engine bay
Third-generation Dodge Ram van engine bay

The B-series van was available with nearly every engine used in a rear-wheel-drive Chrysler product during its production. Six-cylinder engines included the 225-cubic-inch (3,690 cm3) slant six I6 (1971–1987), the 3.9-liter LA V6 (1988–1991), and the 3.9 L Magnum V6 (1992–2007). Small-block V8 engines included the LA-series 318 in3 (1971–1991), 360 in3 (1972–1992), the Magnum 5.2 L (1992–2007), and the Magnum 5.9 L (1993–2007). Big-block V8 engines were the 400 in3 (6,600 cm3) and 440 in3 (7,200 cm3) (1976–1978). Certain model years came with an optional 5.2-liter engine utilizing compressed natural gas (CNG), with a range of up to 300 miles (480 km) on a full tank, and CNG-powered Ram vans were classified as super ultra-low emission vehicles in 1999.[4]

Dodge was the last of the four major full-size van makers to market a short-wheelbase van and passenger wagon. The rest of the Big Three took their shortest full-size vans off the market early in the 1990s. All American vans are now produced with wheelbases proportional to the body length (i.e. made longer to match van size), rather than a fixed length that does not change with body or roof size extensions (as with the E-series and Ram vans).

DaimlerChrysler discontinued production of the Ram van and Ram wagon after the 2003 model year, replacing them with the M-B-based Dodge Sprinter.

Original B series

First generation
1970s Dodge SportVan.jpg
Body and chassis
ClassFull-size van
Body styleTwo-door or 8–15-passenger van
Engine225 cu in (3.7 L) Slant-6
318 cu in (5.2 L) LA V8
360 cu in (5.9 L) V8
400 cu in (6.8 L) LA B V8
440 cu in (7.2 L) RB V8
1977 Sportsman
1977 Sportsman

For the first eight model years, the different configurations of B vans were given names. Sportsman passenger vans had side windows and passenger seating not present in the otherwise identical Tradesman models. The same range of gasoline-powered slant-6 and V8 engines was offered in these vans as was offered in the Dodge D Series pickup truck.

Dodge pioneered the American 15-passenger van genre with the introduction of the Maxiwagon along with the other front engine B series vans that were new for 1971. Ford did not produce a 15-passenger van until 1978, and GM did not introduce theirs until 1990. Little changed on Dodge vans produced between 1971 and 1977, with only a grille change from metal to plastic for the 1974 model year. 1978 was a transition year for B series vans, consisting of the nose from 1977 and earlier vans (with a one-year only Dodge symbol in the grille) but with a completely new dashboard and rear end cap. On the standard length vans, the rear end cap just contained new larger tail lamps, but the extended length Maxivan and Maxiwagon had a completely redesigned rear extension which was longer and had large windows that wrapped around the corners for better visibility. This was unique to the B vans, and this same extension was used until the B vans were discontinued in 2003. On the 1971–1977 models, the rear side doors were set back about two feet towards the rear wheelwells, with a filler panel between them and the front doors. Passenger models had a small window between the front and rear doors. Early 1971 vans had black plastic door push buttons, an inlaid pentastar logo low right front fender, drum brakes and points type ignition. 1972 model year began a phase in of chrome door push buttons, electronic ignition, and front disc brakes. In 1978, the filler panel was removed and the doors were moved forward to be next to the front passenger door, similar to the Ford and Chevrolet vans.

In the late 1970s, Chrysler marketed the B van in their lineup of "Adult Toys", along with the D-Series-based Dodge Warlock, Dodge Lil' Red Express Truck, and Dodge Macho Power Wagon, plus the Dodge Macho Ramcharger.

Street van

1978 Dodge Street Van
1978 Dodge Street Van

Dodge vans, particularly Tradesman vans from the 1971–1977 model years, were very popular as the basis for many custom vans during the custom van craze that occurred during the mid- to late 1970s and early 1980s. Dodge capitalized on this craze, creating a factory customization package called the "Street Van" package. This was advertised alongside the Lil' Red Express and Warlock trucks as "Adult Toys". The Street Van package consisted of a "Street Van" logo on the passenger and driver's side door in lieu of the Tradesman logos, chrome trim on the grille and windshield, simulated wood grain inlays in the steering wheel horn cover and passenger side glare shield, five-slot chrome wheels or white spoked "off-road" type wheels, chrome front and rear bumpers, chrome trim on the gauges, smaller chrome side-view mirrors, patterns and plans to create custom interiors, and membership in the "Dodge Van Clan". This package was available from the 1976 model year until it was discontinued in the early 1980s. This was not an overly popular option from the factory, and Street Vans are somewhat rare.[citation needed] The chrome metal Street Van emblems found on later Street Vans (emblems through mid-1978 were stickers) in good shape are quite valuable to collectors or restorers.[citation needed]

Kary van

The name "Kary van" comes from the cube shape of the cargo section of the van. Dodge used the van body for the front end of its 1973–1978 cube-vans usually with dual rear axles and heavy-duty 1-Ton suspensions. Many examples of these cube-vans can still be found on the streets today as they were typically owned by companies that kept them in service for some time. Thanks to regular maintenance, some still see service.[citation needed]

Rebadged variants

Last-generation Fargo van
Last-generation Fargo van

During the last two years of its existence, Fargo offered a rebadged variant of the Tradesman and Sportsman in Canada for 1971 and 1987 only. Plymouth also received a rebadged variant of the Sportsman, called the Voyager for the 1974 model year. While never as popular as the Dodge version, Plymouth marketed the Voyager in this format through 1983, after which the nameplate was transferred to the new minivan that was introduced for 1984 as a rebadged Dodge Caravan.

Second generation

Second generation
Body and chassis
RelatedPlymouth Voyager (1979–1983)
Engine3.7 L (225 cid) I6 110 HP (79–88)

3.9 L (239 cid) V6 (88–03)
5.2 L (318 cid) V8 147 HP (79–03)
5.9 L (360 cid) V8 155 HP (79–03)
6.6 L (400 id) V8 190 HP (71–78)
7.2 L (440 cid) V8 195 HP (71–78)

Horsepower figures for 1978
Transmission3-speed automatic

4-speed automatic
3-speed manual (column shift)
4-speed (floor shift) manual

5-speed manual (floor shift)
Wheelbase150 SWB: 109.6 in (2,784 mm)
LWB: 127.6 in (3,241 mm)
Length1978–1990 150 SWB: 178.9 in (4,544 mm)
1978–1990 150 LWB, 250 & 350 SWB: 196.9 in (5,001 mm)
1978–1990 250 & 350 LWB: 222.9 in (5,662 mm)
1991–93 B150 (Wagon only): 187.2 in (4,755 mm)
1991–93 B250 and B350 SWB (Wagon only): 205.2 in (5,212 mm)
1991–93 B250 & B350 LWB (Wagon Only): 231.2 in (5,872 mm)
Width1978–1990: 79.2 in (2,012 mm)
1991–93 Wagon: 79.0 in (2,007 mm)
1991–93 Van: 79.8 in (2,027 mm)
Height1978–1990 150: 78.3 in (1,989 mm)
1978–1990 250: 79.9 in (2,029 mm)
1978–1990 350: 80.5 in (2,045 mm)
1991–93 B150 Wagon: 78.1 in (1,984 mm)
1991–93 B250 Wagon: 78.6 in (1,996 mm)
1991–93 B350 Wagon: 80.5 in (2,045 mm)
1991–93 B150 Maxi Wagon: 80.7 in (2,050 mm)
1991–93 Van (Extended): 80.1 in (2,035 mm)

In 1979 the van received a redesigned front end, including a new grille with wraparound turn signals. Lower-end models had single round headlights, while Royal Sportsman and other high-end vans received four rectangular headlights. The van would keep this body style and the 1978 dash intact with only grille changes all the way through the 1993 model year. The Sportsman, Tradesman, and Adventurer names were phased out after 1980, replaced with the Ram van moniker, which included the Ram wagon for passenger models. As with the D-series trucks, B100 and B150 models were 1/2-ton rated, B250 models were 3/4-ton, and B350s were one-ton. The body shell and most fixtures would be one of the longest running of any US vehicle, remaining nearly identical from the vans' introduction in 1971 through their discontinuance in 2003, while Ford and GM would go through two or three generations of platform redesigns. Kentron Inc. build exclusively on Dodge chassis doing Van conversion. They had range of conversions including Medallion 7 & Medallion 7 SR, Daytona & Daytona SR, Traveler SR, Special Edition, Conquest & Conquest SR, various Polara Models. Each will be marked with the conversion model plaque and a badge.

In 1986 the Ram van was given a new grille to resemble those of the 1986 Ram trucks. In 1994 the entire front end was redesigned with flush headlamps to resemble the all-new Dodge Ram pickups, and new taillights wrapped around the sides of the van. The 1978-style dash was kept.

Third generation

Third generation
  • 1994–1997 1500 SWB: 109.6 in (2,784 mm)
  • 1998–2003 1500 SWB: 109.4 in (2,779 mm)
  • 2500 & 3500: 127.6 in (3,241 mm)
  • 1500: 187.2 in (4,755 mm)
  • 2500: 205.2 in (5,212 mm)
  • 3500: 231.2 in (5,872 mm)
  • 1994–96: 79.0 in (2,007 mm)
  • 1997–2003 79.8 in (2,027 mm)
  • 1500: 79.5 in (2,019 mm)
  • 3500 & 2500: 79.9 in (2,029 mm)

In 1994, the entire front end was redesigned with flush headlamps to resemble the all new Dodge Ram pickups, and new taillights wrapped around the sides of the van. The 1978-style dash was kept. In 1998, the van went through the most thorough update since its introduction in 1971. The engine was moved forward in the chassis to improve crash protection, and the front end sheet-metal was redone with a longer nose to accommodate this change. Moving the powertrain forward also resulted in a smaller dog house (engine access cover) which increased front interior room and allowed better access when moving between the front seats. The 1978-style dashboard and door panels were finally replaced in the 1998 model year with a modern design using components from contemporary Chrysler products. The side-view mirrors were now break-away units mounted to the sail portion of the front window openings. This change resulted in the elimination of the front door vent windows. The van remained mostly unchanged until it was discontinued after the 2003 model year, ending production that June.


In 2012, a Dodge Caravan-based cargo van, previously sold as the Dodge Caravan C/V, was renamed the Ram C/V Tradesman. In 2013, a new Mexican-built full-sized van based on the Fiat Ducato was introduced and sold under the name Ram ProMaster,[5] which fills the marketing slot once held by the original Dodge B-Series full-size van. The Ram ProMaster City, a Fiat Doblo-based replacement for the Dodge Grand Caravan C/V Tradesman, was introduced in 2014.[needs update] The Turkish-sourced Promaster City is said to be a modern descendant of the Dodge A100 compact van in the showroom lineup. Both of these vehicles are FWD.

See also


  1. ^ 1974 Plymouth Voyager promotional postcard (McLellan's Automotive)
  2. ^ Readers' Rides; 1974 Plymouth Voyager (Grassroots Motorsports)
  3. ^ "Mammoth Chrysler warehouse rises from plant's ashes". Daily Commercial News. Archived from the original on 2013-03-09. Retrieved 2012-10-10.
  4. ^ [1]
  5. ^ "Dodge RAM ProMaster: an American van with European origins". Retrieved 2014-11-22.

External links

This page was last edited on 7 October 2020, at 01:59
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