Dodge Ram Heavy Duty Trucks; An Idea Worth Repeating?

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My, what a Bighorn you have on the grill!

Show of hands: How many of you knew that the Dodge Division of Chrysler used to sell a line of huge class 8 trucks similar to the Peterbilts and Freightliners you see on the highways today? Chrysler was trying to compete with Ford and GM during the 60s and 70s with a full truck line, and that meant all the way to the big boys. It also looks like the boys at Fiat Dodge Ram want to stick their toe into the Heavy Duty truck market again, but is that really wise? Meet one of the last Dodge Big Rigs, the 1974 Dodge CNT-950 “Bighorn”.

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Dodge CNT-950 Bighorn. Image courtesy of Olddodges.com

The large Dodge Trucks were built only for the military after 1942 and were powered primarily by gasoline engines, and remained so right up to 1960. All that was about to change with the introduction of the LCF series of trucks. The C-500 and C-700 were designated as medium duty, while the C-900 and C-1000 designations were reserved for the Heavy Haulers. The cabs used for these rigs started out as the 1956 – 1960 Dodge Pickup Cabs, with special front ends that featured swing out fenders and a flip up hood for engine accessibility. These trucks adopted the dual headlamp system and those special aluminum “Pie Tin” headlamp bezels to tie in with the more modern looking pickup and A series vans after 1967. The one odd thing is that these trucks were the last vehicles offered from any of the Detroit car companies that was still equipped with a “Wrap Around” windshield!
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Post 1967 Dodge C-900 Diesel. Image Courtesy of Diesel Power Magazine.

In the early 70s design began on what would become the largest and last Dodge Class 8 Tractor, the CNT-950, or the “Bighorn”. Introduced in 1973, only 261 of these trucks would be built. It was at this time that Dodge threw in the towel, and all heavy duty truck production ceased in 1975. Production figures tell the story, with 10 Sold in the US and Canada for 1973, 116 in 1974, and 135 sold for the final year of 1975.
Which brings us to the Red example at the bottom of this post, on display at the Golden Age of Trucking Museum in Southbury, Connecticut. This particular truck was part of a fleet of 18 used by the FINA Oil Company in Texas. It was originally equipped as a plain jane truck, with a Cummins NTC 290 diesel, a Roadranger 10 speed transmission, and a 38,000 lb. spring suspension. It match all the other trucks that FINA used at that time. Many of the other “Bighorns” were equipped with at least a 350 HP Diesel.
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1974 Dodge CNT-950 Bighorn at the Golden Age of Trucking Museum

The museum acquired this truck in 1993, from a truck wholesaler in Kansas City. There was a lot of body damage, and there were also traces of a number and sponsor decals on the cab, indicating that this truck was involved in the heavy-duty truck oval racing that was popular in the south and southwest. The truck was thoroughly torn down in the fall of 1994 to see if it could be re-built to it’s former glory. A longer frame was put together, and the original axles were reinstalled after being completely overhauled. The extended fiberglass hood was salvageable, but the cab, not so much. A donor cab was found, the dashboard was completely fabricated from pictures, Air Conditioning was added, and a Kenworth Sleeper was installed. A larger Cummins diesel has been substituted for the original motor.
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The Ram Hood Ornament doubles as a grab handle to open the one piece fiberglass hood. Most modern "Big Rigs" have one piece engine covers that tilt forward.

The tractor was completed for the 1995 show season, and is used, albeit infrequently, to transport other show trucks around the country. If you want to see the last of the Dodge Big Rigs, and you happen to be in the Connecticut area, why not stop by the Golden Age of Trucking Museum, and take a look at their entire collection. Or read my posting about the Museum itself. I will be showcasing a few of their other trucks on here as well.
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The name says it all.

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A close up shot of the "Wrap Around" windscreen. Note the dogleg "A" pillar.

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39 responses to “Dodge Ram Heavy Duty Trucks; An Idea Worth Repeating?”

  1. engineerd Avatar

    Woohoo! UDMan is now on Hooniverse! Bringing his knowledge of obscure vehicles like the Dodge heavy duty trucks.
    Now, to the main question. If it were me, I wouldn't be looking to enter the heavy truck market. It is dominated by a few well-established brands, and the Dodge brand would, at best, play a bit part. However, I must say I'm impressed that Chrysliat management is willing to look beyond their normal sphere of influence for growth opportunities. This is something that has been lacking at Chrysler for a long time.

    1. Jeff Glucker Avatar
      Jeff Glucker

      He also clearly knows how to format an article better than the rest of us…
      Thanks UDMan… it is a pleasure and honor to have you here.

    2. blueplate Avatar

      Tough to say. GM, "GM Volvo Heavy Truck Corporation" and Ford weren't able to stay in that market– does Fiat know something about the American heavy truck market that they don't? Fiat going to appeal to the long-haul trucker with "Fiat Jolly" models on steroids? Or having Ram finally make good on the "Freightliner" styling promises that the 1994 Ram trucks made? Well, like GM says, may the best product win.

    3. laughingatfate Avatar
      laughingatfate

      Fiat already owns a major part of the large truck market, They basicly Own international Trucks. Still, Would be nice to see dodge back in the Class 8 trucking game

      1. ptschett Avatar

        Fiat does own a heavy truck maker whose name starts with "I", however I'm afraid it's "Iveco" you're looking for. If there were any ties between Fiat and Navistar I'd expect Navistar's 2010 emissions strategy to be built around SCR like everyone else's (a technology Iveco has been using for years) instead of going it alone with massive amounts of EGR.

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  4. CptSevere Avatar

    This place gets better and better. UD man is a great addition, great to have you here, sir. The Hooniverse LeMons Team now boasts a Corvair. Nothing wrong with that.

  5. Maymar Avatar

    That cab looks especially out of place on the Bighorn, against that long boxy hood – I'm guessing it dates back to the mid-50's, and Dodge just never saw reason to update it.

    1. Tanshanomi Avatar

      That's exactly why it's cool.

  6. Garretot Avatar

    Hello,
    Not sure that this is true:), but thanks for a post.
    Garretot

  7. citroen67 Avatar

    Awesome post! I have been gone for a week, and apparently I have missed about 15 really badass posts. I saw a really nice Dodge CNT 950 at the Mid-America Truck Show in Louisville this year. I have a pic or two, but I have no idea how to link it into a post.

  8. LTDScott Avatar

    woohoo, nice to have UDMan here. Yup, I was aware of these heavy duty trucks as I work for a steering supplier and last year our company rebuilt the steering box from an early 70s Dodge C-series big rig.

  9. ptschett Avatar

    I too was aware of these trucks. A '69 C-700 was the first semi on my family's farm. Every summer for 4 years I drove it to haul big round bales from the hayfields to where we kept the cattle in the winter. It had the 413 and got about 4 MPG no matter what. About 10 years ago my dad got another diesel semi and put a dump box on the Dodge so I guess you could say it's semi-retired.

  10. Tanshanomi Avatar

    Get into the class 8 truck market right now? Could you possibly pick a worse time? They might as well get back into the boat market while they're at it.

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  17. kevin w. dowell Avatar
    kevin w. dowell

    i know where there are 6 of the 950s sitting in a field been working on trying to get one of them for over 10 years and know where there are 3 more but the guy thinks tere gold plated plus i found 3 more recently they are out there you just got to know where to look been drivin truck for over 30 years DODGED alot of scales ,D.O.T. ect… run alot of back roads.

    1. STEVE WILKENS Avatar
      STEVE WILKENS

      DODGE BIG HORN 950 BEING SOLD AT AUCTION IN STOCKTON KANSAS ON OCTOBER 20TH.

  18.  Avatar
    Anonymous

    In the late 40’s and early 50’s , Dodge Big Horn was the largest semi tractor truck on the road. I have seen the Big horn resurrected in a Fiat Inveco class 8 & 9.

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