New full-size trucks with manual transmissions no longer exist in the U.S. after the departure of the 2018 Ram 2500. This means, if you want to row your own gears in a big truck, you have to buy used. The good news is that there’s lots of cool stuff on the market, including this single-model year-only Dodge Ram 2500 with a V10 and a stick. Yes, you read that right: a V10 and a stick.
I write this only because, for some reason, I forgot this truck even existed. Hell, I don’t even know if I ever knew it existed, because it’s just so rare. Back when the third-generation Ram debuted in 2002 (for the 1500) and 2003 (for the 2500 and 3500), you could get a heavy duty Cummins with a manual, you could get the Ram 1500 with a 3.7-liter V6 and a manual, and the 4.7-liter V8 in the 1500 could come bolted to a stick.
That’s all well and good, but what really matters is the fact that, under the hood of the gas heavy duty Ram, was an 8.0-liter V10 that could be hooked to a five-speed manual. Yes. Eight liters of V10 fury with a manual transmission. It’s a bit weird, since 2003 was the first model year for the new truck, and it was the final model year with the 8.0-liter, which only ever came mated to an automatic prior to 2003. So for some reason, Dodge decided to keep the V10 around for one year into the new generation, and then hook a manual to it for the first time—again, only for one year. It’s bizarre, but that’s what makes this truck—for sale on Miata.net—so intriguing.
You can learn more about this V10—which was related to the LA family of V8 engines with roots that go back to the 1960s—from the website Cummins Hub. Here’s what it has to say about the mill:
Dodge’s 8.0L V10 is part of the Chrysler LA engine family and is based on the 360 CID V8 platform, but with a lengthened stroke and two additional cylinders. The V10's longer stroke length contributes to its low end torque - 450 lb-ft at a mere 2,400 rpm. The engine was mated to the Chrysler 47RH automatic transmission for 1994 and 1995 model years, the 47RE for 1996 to 2002 model years, and the 48RE for 2003, the last year that the engine was offered. A New Venture NV4500 5 speed manual transmission was also available for 2003, however a manual transmission was not available in earlier model years. The 8.0L Magnum V10 was discontinued following the 2003 model year, being phased out in favor or more sophisticated and fuel efficient engine platforms. While the V10 made respectable horsepower and torque, the market quickly outgrew its large size and aging technology.
With only 310 horsepower from 10 cylinders, the Magnum V10 isn’t exactly powerful, but when it launched for the 1994 model year, it was apparently a big deal, with Allpar saying it had the “highest torque and horsepower, with the broadest usable torque curve (1,000 - 4,000 rpm) of any large gas engine in the field, when introduced.”
That horsepower figure, by the way, was 300, though it increased to 310 in the late 1990s. Torque was 450 lb-ft throughout the engine’s decade-long lifespan. That’s quite a bit of twist going through the NV4500 five-speed manual, and wth a ~5.6:1 first gear ratio, I bet this truck could pull damn near anything.
This particular machine is for sale for $13,500, which isn’t cheap. But that’s a hell of a rig.
Correction June 1, 2020 5:30 P.M. ET: It does appear that the previous-generation Ram also mated the Magnum V10 to the NV4500 five-speed. The 2003 model, though, is the only third-gen with that combo. (Also, since readers want me to mention it: Don’t forget about the Ram SRT-10, which also mated a V10 to a manual transmission).