Test Drive: 2004 Dodge Ram SRT 10  car test drives dodge
Photos: DaimlerChrysler. Click image to enlarge

by Richard Russell

Austin, Texas – If you absolutely, positively must have more than 500 horsepower beneath the hood of your pickup, there is only one way to buy one off the showroom floor with full factory warranty. Go to your local Dodge store and order up a Ram SRT-10. There are probably a few people out there who might argue there is no need for a 500-horsepower pickup. They would likely question its fuel mileage, environmental impact and lack of towing or carrying capacity.

But the heck with them. Fuel mileage is only a concern if you can’t afford it. Any pollution from this beast will come from the smoke rolling off the rear tires as they are turned into puddles of molten rubber. The lack of towing ability might be a problem for some as will the puny payload. But those concerned with these two issues have plenty of other trucks to choose from – but there is virtually no comparison for the Ram SRT-10 – the boldest, baddest and fastest pickup on the planet. This beast brings new meaning to the words pick up! GM’s best shot is the 340 horsepower Silverado SS and there is no Lightning version of the new F150 to date. The old one wasn’t in this league.

Ask Dodge’s PVO team why, and the answer is “because we can”. PVO is the in-house group of madmen responsible for Performance Vehicle Operations. This is a group with racing in their blood. Individually they compete as a hobby in a variety of formats, from stock and sports cars to rallying and auto-crossing. Then they come to work on Monday and get paid to do more! In other words they not only can they talk the talk, they walk the walk – and have the trophy cases where others may have bookcases. The SRT-10 is the third product of these twisted minds behind the Viper and SRT-4, the fastest sub-$30,000 front-drive sub-compact on the market.

The Ram SRT-10 gets that name from Street-legal Racing Technology and the 10-cylinder engine lurking beneath the hood – not the cast iron workhorse truck engine, the all-aluminum 8.3 litre Viper V10. Faster, wider, louder was the drumbeat to which the PVO team worked enroute to the 4 x 500s – 505 cubic inches, 500 horsepower, 525 lb.-ft. of torque and a 505-watt sound system. Big numbers are the name of the game – so here are a few more: six, as in the number of gears in the transmission and 22 for the diameter of the standard wheels and tires in inches. Since we’re throwing numbers around, how about names, respected names from the world of speed and performance:

  • Tremac – the six-speed transmission comes straight from the Viper.

  • Hurst – the legendary company engineered and supplied the shifter.
  • Pirelli – exclusive supplier of the 305/40 x 22 Scorpion Zero performance tires.
  • Dana – the Dana 60 rear axle with 4:11 final drive and modified limited slip.
  • Bilstein – the four shocks at each corner and a special fifth one designed as a power-hop damper to eliminate rear axle hop when those 500 horses are let out of the corral.

Test Drive: 2004 Dodge Ram SRT 10  car test drives dodge

Test Drive: 2004 Dodge Ram SRT 10  car test drives dodge

Test Drive: 2004 Dodge Ram SRT 10  car test drives dodge

Test Drive: 2004 Dodge Ram SRT 10  car test drives dodge
Click image to enlarge

Nothing subtle or high-tech about this brute. It’s all about in-your-face presence, a bodacious interior and the pavement rippling power to back it up. At least half the gears are redundant. There is so much torque, at virtually any speed, you need to simply think about increasing throttle travel and things get ridiculously fast – RIGHT NOW! 0 to 60 mph takes only 5.2 seconds. Several changes were made to the engine for this application, including a new oil pan to clear the front axle and a new high-flow exhaust system with two separate 2.75-inch pipes from manifold to tailpipe.

There is also nothing subtle about the SRT-10s looks. The truck sits 2.5 cm lower at the front and 5 cm at the rear. The deep front fascia, integrated splitter and massive air intakes tell you this is not a normal truck, not even a normally nasty-looking Ram. One of the design team told us here that every designer, from the time they are in school sketches vehicles with massive wheels, big hood scoops and aggressive front ends. Fun stuff but certainly not likely to ever see the light of day. But “the SRT-10 is a rolling sketch. We actually got to do the baddest truck on the planet!” he exclaimed . The hood has a cold air scoop and a power bulge wearing Viper-powered badges, the nicely integrated bodyside cladding accentuates the simply massive 22-inch polished aluminum wheels through which you can easily see the bright red brake calipers. Even at the rear there is attention to details in the spoiler and the deep fascia through which protrude a pair of three-inch chrome pipes. But this is no boy racer. All these aero touches were the result of wind tunnel time under the guidance of Dodge’s NASCAR aerodynamic engineer. The result is not only a truck that will scare people, but one that can punch a hole through the air at 150 miles per hour!

The interior has been suitably modified. Performance is the name of the game here as well. The seats are wonderfully supportive thanks to added bolstering. They are covered in a suede-like material the PVO team has nicknamed Butt Sticker. There is a new satin-finish instrument cluster and right there on the instrument panel alongside the key is the big red start button – a Viper tradition. Sticking up from the console is the Hurst shifter. Thick enough to serve as a railway track, it moves with a precision and solidity that can only come from being directly in contact with the inner working of the transmission – no cables or rods here.

Not only will the SRT-10 get up and dance when the light turns green, it doesn’t quit when the road gets the bends. It’s surprisingly agile on the track for a 5,100 lb. truck. The lowered suspension has been nicely tuned and the Dana locking different and Pirellis do yeoman work in trying to get all that power to the ground. But it would be a wise idea to start looking for replacement tires the day you take delivery, should you chose to explore this truck’s capabilities.

What’s it cost? Just under $60,000, all-in, no options. A lot for a pickup – but it’s a lot of pickup!


Technical Data: 2004 Dodge Ram SRT-10 4X2

Base price $57,910
Freight $1,070
A/C Tax $100
Price as tested $59,085
Type 2-door, 2 passenger full-size pickup
Layout longitudinal front engine/rear-wheel-drive
Engine 8.3 litre V10, OHV, 2 valves per cylinder
Horsepower 500 @ 5600 rpm
Torque 525 lb-ft @ 4200 rpm
Transmission 6-speed manual Hurst shifte
Tires Pirelli Scorpion P305/40R-22 inch
Wheelbase 3061 mm (120.5 in.)
Length 5276 mm (207.7 in.)
Width 2029 mm (79.9 in.)
Height 1890 mm (74.4 in.)
Bocx length 1.9 metres (6 ft. 3 in.)
Fuel consumption N/A
Warranty 3 yrs/60,000 km
Powertrain warranty 7 yrs/115,000 km