After reading about my recent $700 “Holy Grail” Jeep, a Virginia accountant named Charles sent me an email titled “My one in a million purchase.” Attached were photos of one of the most soulful automobiles I’ve ever seen: a 1991 Dodge Ramcharger with a spectacular Rocky Mountain-themed art scheme featuring 14 (!!!) bald eagles. It is one of the most “Murica” machines I’ve ever seen, and it somehow only cost Charles $600.
A normal Dodge Ramcharger is already interesting in its own right. The SUV-ified Ram doesn’t get nearly enough love, in part, because the Chevy Blazer and especially the Ford Bronco tend to steal the attention. Add the artwork on this particular Ramcharger’s body panels, glass, and interior, and the intrigue reaches a whole different level.
This automotive art canvas is a 1991 model fitted with the same engine found in many Ramchargers built during its 1974 to 1993 production run: The Chrysler small-block “LA” 318 V8. Unlike all earlier models, Charles’ truck doesn’t have a carburetor, but instead a throttle body injection system sitting atop the intake manifold, as was common on early 1990s V8 pickups.
Charles spotted this art truck on Facebook Marketplace as he hunted for a cheap vehicle to take on a Cannonball Run-style cross-country road trip this upcoming November. The 27 year-old had always wanted in on this kind of trip, so he and two friends decided this is going to be the year for it. The stipulations for the invite-only, North Carolina-to-Santa Monica cruise require the vehicle to cost under $2,000, and this Ramcharger listed for sale in Roanoke Rapids, NC—just a few hours from Charles’ home of Richmond, Virginia—fit the bill at just $600.
“For $600, I’ll figure out what’s wrong with it,” Charles thought. So he drove down south with his buddy’s heavy-duty Cummins Ram, exchanged $600 for a title, and towed the Ramcharger home.
“The reason it was $600 was because somebody tried to steal it [with a hammer and a flathead screwdriver],” Charles told me. This meant the previous owner was left to start the engine by jumping the underhood starter relay. This apparently got annoying over time, so the vehicle eventually just sat for seven or eight years. (It was last registered in 2012.)
By the time Charles snagged it, the truck had some floorpan rust, clear coat issues, and roughly 217,000 miles on the clock. But otherwise, it looked to be in decent shape.
While it may sound like a bad idea to buy a vehicle with a 217,000-mile engine that hasn’t run in a while, Chrysler 318s are stout, and Charles has quite some experience with them. He’s the owner of a first-gen Ram with the same power plant.
He replaced the busted-out ignition switch for about $23 at the parts store and under an hour of work yanking the old switch from the steering column. Then he swapped the fuel filter, pulled the fuel feed to the throttle body and ran the pump until clean fuel flowed out of the hose. From there, he re-attached the hose, turned the key, and eureka! “It fired right up like it had just been running... I was just amazed,” Charles exclaimed over the phone.
The avid car fan hasn’t really put the Ramcharger through its paces yet, so we don’t really know the state of the Chrysler A500 four-speed automatic, but Charles has driven the two-wheel drive machine a bit around his yard. So it does move, at least.
As for the paint job, Charles says the Rocky Mountain-themed art is an impressive thing to behold in person. He’s surprised the truck hasn’t garnered much attention online outside of Ram-related circles, where Charles says “it’s been the golden egg that everyone’s been trying to buy.”
“Somebody spent a ton of time and effort doing this back in the day,” the Richmond native and third owner of the tastefully “Murica” Ramcharger told me. Looking around the mural’ed machine, he sees the art dated “1992" and the names of three different artists: one who did the body, one who etched the windows, and one who painted the interior upholstery. Charles described the work in his initial email, writing:
Someone went to a great deal of effort to get this truck customized. The paint must have taken eternity to complete. Both back windows are etched and are awesome to see in person. The vent windows are etched with a ram’s head. The back seat is painted with yet another mural that is signed by a different artist. I have so far found 3 different artist’s signatures on the truck.
Charles told me that the previous owner said she’d heard about the truck on the radio, and bought it, learning during that purchase that the vehicle had been painted by local artists in Roanoke Rapids, North Carolina.
It’s a paint job that Charles hopes to preserve, telling me he plans to work with YouTuber and automotive detailer AMMO NYC to clean up the paint and perhaps protect it with clear coat. I hope he does, because this truck—especially this particular section of it showing a Bald Eagle carrying a fish over a snow-capped mountain with a huge RAM CHARGER badge out front—might be the most ‘Murica thing I’ve ever seen.
And that’s just the exterior. The inside is also incredible; look at the artwork on the back of the rear bench!:
And behold the wintry motif on the floor mats!:
And look, a Ram on the headrest:
I asked Charles how many bald eagles are on the truck. His answer has me convinced that this V8, gas-guzzling SUV covered in huge mountains, angry Rams and tough-looking wolves may be the holy grail of America-mobiles:
10 Bald Eagles on the body, 2 bald eagles on the back windows and 2 bald eagles on the wind deflectors for the front windows. 14 bald eagles all together.