The Ram Truck evolution springs from an all-American drive for excellence. Before there was Ram, there were Dodge trucks - known for their toughness and reliability. "Job Rated" was the proud badge of honor sported by Dodge trucks in the early 1950s. Amidst all the fan-fare of the All-New 2019 Ram 1500 unveiling, Larry H. Miller Dodge Ram Avondale General Manager, Mike Messina, thought about just how far the Ram truck had come.

One of the 2019 Ram's hidden gems is this depiction of a "parade of predecessors" decorating the floor of the center console. But it only showcases recent Ram iterations. Messina had the idea of showcasing an ancestral Dodge pickup at his dealership. His idea caught hold and resulted in an impromptu team-building project as the Avondale Dodge Ram service staff enthusiastically participated in restoring this 1953 Dodge truck that had clearly seen better days. Christened "Stella," this Ram wellspring now graces the Avondale Dodge Ram showroom, the proud matriarch of a long line of hard working, dependable half-tons.

Before you see her in all her restored glory, we'll show you Stella's story - beginning with her rescue from obscurity, her amazing first engine start (before any work was done), and her remarkable transformation, all performed right here at Avondale Dodge Ram.

Arriving at Larry H. Miller Dodge Ram, Avondale on a trailer, our rescued 1953 Dodge truck looked every bit its age, and then some. The classic truck had been sitting idle in Queen Creek, Arizona since the late 1980s or early 90s. Her wiring was eaten away and a pack rat had made its home in her bench seat. This would be a major automotive restoration project for our Avondale Dodge Service & Repair team. The first order of business was to take vital signs and determine the viability of the old truck's in-line 6. There was still life there, and with a little help from a bottle of gasoline, the old girl was awakened. (View video of the first start-up of the engine - before any work had been done.)

This classic truck was purchased on August 1, 2017. By early February, 2018, "Stella" took her place of honor, fully restored, on the showroom floor of Larry H. Miller Dodge Ram, Avondale.

1953 Dodge Truck Ad

When General Manager Mike Messina talks about the Stella project, you can't miss the pride, admiration and respect he has for his entire service team.

This 1953 Dodge truck was taken apart and reassembled right here at Avondale Dodge Ram. We restored the frame and we took out the engine and transmission and replaced all seals and gaskets. Our Service Manager and Assistant Service Manager personally worked on this project, along with our Avondale Dodge Ram service technicians. We conducted the search for parts such as the gauges and steering wheel. Her interior door handles, glass, blinkers, hubcaps and rear bumper are all replicated Dodge parts. We chromed some parts, repurposed others and replaced all rubber seals. We also used all new screws and bolts. Stella's original VIN plate was refurbished and reused. The final assembly was a group effort - our whole team took stewardship of this restoration project.

There were some additions made to the 1953 Dodge equipment. The ram's head hood ornament is one example. Also, while the truck did not originally have a rear bumper or the outer sun visor, which was a commonly added feature of the day, Messina felt that Stella deserved some extra dressing-up. He noted, "We added a rear bumper that did not come on the original truck - she was a work truck - she has incredible low end torque - we believe she could tow the new RAM."