The Dallas Dig Out is a regular event held three times a year at Dallas Auto Parts, who are a WW2 Jeep, M201 and Dodge specialists. The event is a combination of a military jumble and an open day at the Dallas Facility. For me the open day aspects and any vehicles that may be on display or an sale is reason enough for a visit.
There is an impressive range of both spares and artifacts on display which are always worth a look.
Also on display is an excellent cutaway 1942 Willys MB which until recently was on display at an army museum.
A nice way to spend a few hours on a sunny October morning
Ram has just announced their intention to build a new midsize pickup truck by 2022. While we may have to wait another several years for a smaller Ram truck – how about this blast from the past?
Based on the Mitsubishi Mighty Max/Forte/L200, the Dodge Power Ram 50 Pickup Truck was the 4-wheel-drive (4WD) version of the Dodge D50 pickup truck. The Dodge D50 entered the U.S. market in 1979, several variants were built including the short-lived Plymouth Arrow and a diesel engine option between 1983-1985. Rare by today’s standards, the ’83 turbo-diesel came with a TC05 turbo making 80 hp and 125 lb-ft of torque. The ’84–’85 TD04 turbo-diesel made 86 hp and 134 lb-ft torque. U.S. production ended in 1994. Four-speed manuals were standard and a three-speed automatic transmission was optional.
A (much maligned) 3.0-liter V6 became available in nearly every market, but it was not a popular power-plant.
In 1981, the Dodge Power Ram 50 4WD was introduced. At the time, all Dodge trucks that came with 4WD were known as “Power Rams.” It came with a carbureted 2.6-liter I4 that produced 106 horsepower and 139 lb-ft of torque. While those numbers were not class-leading, the truck weighed well under 3,000-lbs and was considered very capable off-road. Despite the fact that Dodge introduced the mid-size Dodge Dakota in 1987, sales of the Dodge Power Ram 50 Pickup Truck continued to sell.
The Dodge Power Ram 50 had two bed lengths available after 1987. A 72-inch and an optional 88-inch bed were available with both beds sitting on a 105.5-inch (short bed) or 116.1-inch (long bed) wheelbase. Both beds were 55.7 inches wide.
I just came across all these parts stripped out of a 1933 Dodge Brothers DP Six. Presumably, that’s a sign that the body and frame are in the process of being street rodded. These parts are hardly useless, however, as they’ve got plenty of life left in them. Yes, you could set them aside planning to find and restore another ’33 Dodge, but I think they’d make the perfect basis for that rarest of creatures: a non-Ford speedster.
Early (i.e. pre-1949) Fords are neat. I love them. That said, there are a lot of them out there. Go to a prewar car event and Model T’s, Model A’s, and early V-8s are everywhere. People loved them and saved them and a whole industry (Hemmings included) grew up around keeping them alive long after the point when Ford Motor Company had moved on to more complicated and profitable designs.
Of course, even in the 1920s, when at times the Model T represented roughly half of the new-car market, Ford wasn’t alone in producing capable, affordable cars. One of its biggest rivals was Dodge Brothers, which had started life as a supplier to many of Detroit’s early players and was especially important to the eventual success of Henry Ford’s operation.
The brothers themselves, John and Horace, died in 1920, only six years after debuting their eponymous automobile. Dodge (which didn’t drop “Brothers” until 1938 or so) continued along after their demise, controlled by heirs and financial backers, especially investment bank Dillon, Read & Company, which acquired the Hamtramck-based automaker in 1925 and then sold it to Chrysler Corporation in 1928.
United States car sales slumped in 1958 due to a nationwide recession, but, on the heels of a successful 1957, Dodge rolled out an updated lineup. The division’s 1958 cars were longer, lower, wider, more colorful, and sported an abundance of chrome. Plus, Dodge’s model offerings consisted of the entry-level Coronet, the Royal, the Custom Royal, and a new, top-of-the-line Regal Lancer. Dodge described them as the “Swept-Wing” 1958s in all of its marketing brochures.
Phil Shaw, from Auburn, Nebraska, is a 64-year-old retired UPS driver and Mopar enthusiast of the first order. Phil was looking for a retirement project that spanned the 1957-’59 Dodges when he came across a 1958 Dodge for sale online. The owner was from Norway, the ad was confusing to read, and a gallery of low-quality photos made it difficult to determine the car’s overall condition.
“The owner told me he had purchased the car online, from a seller in Bradenton, Florida, and then had it shipped to a shop in Rosenberg, Texas, to begin the restoration,” Phil says. “But after some work had been done he halted the restoration. He found out a short time later that he was terminally ill with cancer and decided not to see the job through.”
At that point, the car had also been completely disassembled and media blasted, and the shop had performed some sheetmetal repair on the floorpans and trunk floor. Reluctantly, Phil decided to bid on the ’58, not sure exactly what to expect since he had not seen the car in person. He won the auction and purchased the car in January of 2011. No other potential buyers bid against him, which sent up another red flag.
“I picked the car up a few days later. All the window glass had been discarded, and all the parts were in boxes and not well identified,” Phil says. “I examined the bare body and saw that a lot of rust repair was needed around the back window, but the rest of the body seemed to be solid and in good shape.”
Believe it or not, the ancestral lineage of the modern four-wheel-drive system dates to 1893. Bramah Joseph Diplock, an English engineer, patented a four-wheel-drive system that year, designed for a steam-powered traction engine. The concept was then adopted by would-be dignitaries in the self-propelled industry, including Ferdinand Porsche (in 1899), Daimler-Benz (1907), Marmon-Herrington (1931), and a host of others, including American Bantam, which designed the prototype general purpose vehicle that famously became the jeep built by Willys and Ford during World War II. Three decades later, the 4×4 drive system – offered by multiple corporations – had attained a long-established reputation for uncompromising off-road durability. In our latest edition of This or That, we’re celebrating 4×4 vehicles from the early Seventies. Let’s take a closer look at four examples for you to ponder, all of which are currently available in the Hemmings classifieds.
Arguably, Jeep made the 4×4 vehicle both fun and affordable for the masses with a contemporary system that was truly battle-tested. Its proliferation beyond what became the CJ was hard to miss, offered in larger platforms such as this Commando-based Super Commando II from 1972. This was one of but a couple years in which the Commando line did not include the Jeepster name, and convertibles, like our featured vehicle, came standard with a removable hardtop, V-8 engine and, of course, the four-wheel-drive system. According to portions of the seller’s listing
The Commando had its own new front end and unique sheetmetal that made it one of the most distinctive Jeeps in decades. What makes this one even more distinct is it’s done in range-topping Super Commando II trim. While we don’t have the paperwork to confirm an SC2, the appearance absolutely shows the premium feeling correctly…The darker blue streak highlights the power bulge in the hood, and the full-length stripe is a reminder that these had flush-fitting front fenders…The sea of blue continues inside, and it shows off quite a comfy interior. You have high-back bucket seats with a velour pattern, and the door panels were even done to match…the dash has a great classic look with a clean pad, factory speedometer, heat/defrost controls, and even the locking hub instructions are still affixed. You’ll also notice well-integrated upgrades for more confident driving, including the auxiliary gauges…This optional 304 cubic-inch unit looks authentic and authoritative under the hood…A three-speed automatic transmission, power steering, and Goodyear tires make for a good all-around cruiser…Plus, don’t forget as a true jeep you have a proper two-speed 4×4 transfer case.
Word on the street was that Detroit was introducing downsized cars for 1977. When NASCAR got wind during the ’76 season, it began exploring the idea of initiating a rule change that would mandate a 110-inch wheelbase chassis, versus the then-current 115-inch design. But once that process began, developmental cost was a concern, prompting Bill France Jr. to issue a statement: “Eventually, we will have to follow Detroit’s trend. In order to curb expenses, the teams will be permitted to use equipment they already have instead of letting new equipment become obsolete in a short time.” The changes Bill hinted at were finally scribed into the 1981 rule book, with one exception: the outgoing cars would be permitted to race at the season opener at Riverside International Raceway (in Riverside, California) on January 11. Bobby Allison won at the helm of a 1977 Chevrolet Monte Carlo. New downsized cars were permitted to compete side-by-side, even though they were not fully mandated yet. Dale Earnhardt finished third in one such Grand Prix, owned by Rod Osterlund.
The dawn of Detroit’s downsized era in the late Seventies was probably long overdue. The bigger-is-better attitude had cost consumers a ton (pardon the pun) thanks to a series of circumstances that included, but were not limited to, a fuel crisis, emission and safety regulations, and rapidly changing CAFE standards.
The necessary diet, however, turned out to be a breath of fresh air in some regards, taken in steps and planned appropriately enough so that handling, comfort, and cabin space – all things most Americans thoroughly enjoyed – was not sacrificed.
A perfect example was Oldsmobile’s Cutlass, which set a staggering production record after shedding its bulk. So, in our latest edition of This or That, we’re celebrating the beginning of the downsized era, which was administered in steps that began in earnest in 1977. As always, we’re delivering just four examples to your inbox to ponder, all of which are currently available in the Hemmings classifieds.
If there is a vehicle that built the American economy, it is arguably the pickup. Consider its versatility in basic light-duty form: Farmers could bring their humble harvest to market in the same design that enabled store owners to deliver goods to households in both the cities and suburbs with efficient ease. Everything from animal feed, to building supplies, to small appliances could be transported, and it didn’t take long for adventurous outdoorsmen to convert their coveted workhorse into a weekend camper with a clever aftermarket add-on. Its evolution continues today, serving family needs in more powerful and luxurious ways than once envisioned. Meanwhile, the more vintage steeds have become a hot commodity among old vehicle enthusiasts, so in our latest edition of This or That, we bring you four half-tons from the Sixties to ponder for your dream garage – all of which are currently available in the Hemmings classifieds.
Up first is a pickup that regular readers of our Hemmings Classic Car magazine may recognize: this 1961 Studebaker Champ Deluxe, which appeared in the May 2019 issue, as well as our 2020 Hemmings Vintage Trucks calendar. Studebaker’s half-ton Champ was introduced to the truck market in 1960, and while it may have appeared as an all-new light-duty hauler at first blush, the company’s lack of engineering funds meant that the outgoing model – the Scotsman – was, on the surface, given a new name with a facelift, courtesy of the Lark sedan. Aside from the cab’s front end, save for a four-bar grille versus a mesh design, the Lark’s instrument panel was carried forward to the Champ, too. Two upgrades highlighted our featured ’61 model year: The use of a 110-hp, 170-cu.in. six-cylinder engine in base trim, and the “Spaceside” cargo box. The latter was made possible thanks to old tooling obtained from Dodge, which accounted for the mismatched cab/cargo box body transition. According to the seller of this Champ:
his 1961 Studebaker Champ Deluxe pickup is a nicely restored example. If you are a fan of the Hemmings Vintage Trucks Calendar, it was used for the July 2020 page. The red paint has the vibrant look of a modern quality respray, so the sunlight shows off the well-done bodywork as the Lark-inspired front end flows into a muscular bed design. And speaking of the bed, the finish applied over the oak wood on the bed floor and removable side stakes has a gloss that rivals the paint. This has upgraded chrome on the bumpers, grille, and side trim. The wheels have classic Studebaker hubcaps, and the whitewalls coordinate with the body’s white pinstripe. It’s believed Studebaker produced less than 7,700 consumer pickups across the entire line in 1961. The exterior red returns inside. It’s now joined by a tasteful black on the seat, carpeting, and dash. The experience inside this pickup is truly authentic, right down to the large dual-spoke steering wheel that gives a clear view to the correct classic gauges. The AM radio still cranks out tunes and the heater works. Plus, this one has the rare sliding rear window option. The engine bay has an authentic 170 cubic-inch straight-six backed by a column-shifted three-speed manual transmission.
Winter’s last grip on Detroit had started to loosen. Little by little, the slush piles at the edges of parking lots and the last few pockets of white in the corners of flowerbeds had receded, replaced by shoots of life anew – buds on the trees, green on the grass, a few more minutes of sun every day.
Gregory Qualls stood in front of the garage door at his father’s house once again, this time with only the memories of his father on the other side of the door, memories wrapped up in a black unrestored Hemi-powered 1970 Dodge Challenger R/T SE that had sat for nearly 40 years.”I did get a chance to ride in it,” Gregory said. “I remember it was so loud, it’d shake the whole entire house, even inside. I asked my mom what that noise was, and she said, ‘Oh, it’s just your dad starting the car.’ He then said, ‘C’mon, let’s take a ride.’ He took off and the car pulled me back into my seat. I was so scared, but it was something I’ll never forget.”