Slowly but surely, we are seeing the technology of Fiat trickle down into the Chrysler brands they now own. Case in point: a Dallas-based automotive journalist's 2013 Ram 1500 that caught fire during a test drive. Ferrari performance in an American pickup truck! What more could you want?
Dallas Morning News columnist Terry Box writes that he was on the Dallas North Tollway last week when the truck he was testing started losing power, dropping from highway speeds to 20 mph. Then another motorist kindly alerted him to the fact that his truck happened to be on fire.
About halfway onto the ramp, I ran out of steam, stopped and turned on the emergency flashers — still oblivious to any potential danger.
As I unbuckled my seat belt, I noticed a gray Ford Explorer a lane over with a young woman gesturing at me from the passenger seat.
Stephanie Swindell, 24, an oncology nurse from Carrollton, was trying to tell me that the Ram was on fire — a fact I discovered as soon as I opened the door and saw flames snaking out of the left front wheel well.
Her fiancé, Daniel Fleming, was driving and had realized long before I did that my problems were much more serious than a malfunctioning computer.
“I was in the middle lane probably 100 yards behind you, and I saw cars quickly trying to get around you, like they wanted to get away from you,” said Fleming [...] “I could see flames literally dripping off the truck. They came all the way out the back and seemed to grow and retract, like you were pushing on the gas or something.”
(And of course, because this is Dallas, a couple other motorists honked at Box and threw him obscene gestures for catching fire in such an inconvenient location.)
Box said that about 20 seconds later, flames were shooting out of the hood and the $54,335 truck was lost in a pillar of thick brown smoke. He said it only took about three minutes for the truck to burn up.
Journalism blogger Jim Romenesko asked Box if he had any "after" photos of the truck, but he said he's "not a big cellphone person" and thought he left his flip-phone in the truck anyway. Box said that the young couple got a shot of the Ram, but you can't see much through the smoke.
As for the folks at Ram, they say they're looking into the fire. From the DMN story:
Fred Diaz, CEO of Ram, was profusely apologetic about the fire — but certainly didn’t have to be. I couldn’t find anything to suggest that this was anything other than an extremely rare occurrence.
“We take these things very, very seriously,” Diaz said. “I’ve got to believe this is a one-in-a-billion situation. But we’ve got a team of engineers working on it, and we’ll figure out what happened.”
One-in-a-billion. Unless, of course, it's a Ferrari, in which case it's probably closer to one-in-17. Let's hope the Ram Flambé doesn't become a thing.
Photo credit Ram/20 Minutes Online
Hat tip to Wayne!