There’s nothing like that old car smell. And while the patina trend has been discussed to death, the hard truth of the matter is that my favorite old car times invariably involve beaters. When my ’65 Mustang was my one slightly shabby old car, we drove almost to the ends of the earth without a care in the world, and I’m not sure I’ve had as much fun behind the wheel of a car since. Lately, those warm old feelings are enveloping this car mad soul every time I crawl behind the discolored steering wheel of the Dirty Dart. Now I’m wondering if a beater flatbed would be such a bad idea.
“1964 Dodge D300 slant 6cyl 4spd manual trans. New clutch and brake master cylinders. Rebuilt carb. Rebuilt alternator and starter. Runs good. Minimal rust, old city truck. Lots of fun, great patina,” said the Craigslist ad. Damn it. There’s that old “p-word” again, only slightly less irritating than a “rare barn find” that’s “ready for restoration.” Regardless of the owner’s diction, this bodystyle has been twisting itself around my psyche in a double-helix dance of doom. This time, it’s not really my fault–it’s the junkyard’s. But I digress.
Fortunately and unfortunately, this one may be just a little too earthy to bring home. I don’t like the feeling that my car is developing its own ecosystem, and this Dodge looks like a haven for innovative strains of molds, lichens, and mosses. The wooden bed looks like a deck in a Thompson’s Water Seal commercial, the “before” kind. I might be in at $950, but $2950? No thanks.
That won’t by any means stop me from looking for an old Sweptline pickup. It’s weird enough to pique my interest, and it’s underappreciated, kind of like the old Savoy Brown album I’ve been overplaying as of late. Raw Sienna smacks of a ’70s color on a Pinto, by the way.
As for the Dodge, the dual rear wheels must invoke a checkmark in the old nay column. Tires are expensive enough when one has to buy four; six is two wheels too many. And the D300 isn’t really the truck of my junkyard dreams.
Like I said previously, the closing junkyard of a recent visit is responsible for this latest preoccupation, as there were a couple of ’68 Dodge half-tons patiently awaiting the crusher. Idle hands (or wheels, in this case) are the devil’s playground, and these long idle trucks have awakened the old car buying beast within me. I have a soft spots for dilapidated vagrants, and hanging about these old trucks felt like a trip to the animal shelter. Which one can you adopt? What if you can’t adopt any?
Acting as a shelf for an old radiator is this refrigerator white ’68, which was actually quite similar to the 1961 model, the first year of this bodystyle. This basic truck lasted a decade in its familiar form, with the same body being used all the way through ’71 on half-ton models. I have actually driven a ’70 model D200 with a 225 4-speed combination, as one of my students from a while back owned a very clean red example that had been in his family for quite some time. After school, he’d bring it into the school shop to work on it, and he let me drive it around the neighborhood. Nice truck. I wouldn’t mind one of my own.
As for the Craigslist D300 noted above, I’ll have to wait for a D100 with more highway-friendly gearing and an actual bed. Until then, my sweet dreams will involve beater Dodge trucks, and my sweet realities can be fulfilled by my beater Dart.