We’ve been singing the praises of the newer RAM stuff here at CC, but we’ve hardly lost sight of what came before. A prime example of that would be from the days when RAM was still spelled D-O-D-G-E as is the case with this wonderful example from 1978.
Back then trucks were trucks and not afraid to get dirty, men were men and not afraid to ride four abreast in a single cab on a bench seat with the seatbelts carefully tucked away between the cushions, and boys rode in the open bed with the dogs. The single cab regular bed format ruled the roost and 2WD examples were as plentiful as 4WD ones. 4WD was really only chosen by the folks that had a genuine need for it, be it due to actually using a truck in dirt and muddy conditions or if there was plentiful snow and ice. Well, here in southern Wyoming where this truck lives all of those conditions exist, and often all at once, so this is a very appropriate vehicle for the area.
I found this truck over a year ago as I was driving by and noted the writing on the windshield. On some level I was actually interested in possibly purchasing it to the point of calling Jason Shafer on the spot and discussing it at length. That’s probably the only reason I haven’t shared it until now as I drove by again last week and it was obviously gone. At the time I loved the color and how it has worn over the years, not to mention just the overall aesthetics of this truck; that hasn’t diminished with time as I scrolled through my phone this evening and came across these pictures again.
I have a thing for those old aluminum camper shells, they all look marvelous on an older truck even if the lines don’t always complement the truck itself; unlike today’s molded and body-color-painted items these almost always acted as a separate accent piece designed to stand out in some way and not just blend in. But the green paint with those oh-so-70’s white steel wheels (factory option) along with the white stripe and white shell, what’s not to like?
This particular truck with the Power Wagon package sports the 318ci V8 according to the owner whom I called using the number on the windshield rather than opening his hood in his driveway. Back then Dodge offered the 225 slant-six to start things off, then the 318 as the starter course on the V8 menu, followed by 360, 400, and 440ci V8 options. Yes, a 440 which equates to 7.2liters, far larger than the 5.7 Hemi available in today’s 1500’s and larger than the 6.2 Hemi in the 2500/3500 series. But wait, there’s more – New for 1978 was also a 243ci Diesel inline-6. No, this wasn’t a Cummins but rather a Mitsubishi!
I was and still am a bit perplexed by the paint. The dark areas look at lot like Medium Green Sunfire Metallic but the lighter areas especially on the driver’s side look like Mint Green Metallic. At least parts of the truck have been repainted so the brochure I looked at wasn’t too much help and the Mint Green may just be really faded Medium Green. Or something else entirely, but whatever it is I like it.
Inside is a bench seat and since this is a Custom trim cab, it likely started out as green vinyl all over. There’s a very long lever for the 4-speed manual transmission and a shorter lever for the transfer case that on Power Wagons apparently has five positions including one for full time all wheel drive. Presumably the other four positions are the traditional 4Hi, 4Lo, Neutral and 2Hi. I had not previously realized that full time AWD was available this early, but it’s a very handy mode for roads that vary between wet, dry, icy, and muddy, and constantly changing conditions between those.
Yup, that’s a pickup bed from before people got all worried about scratching the paint. I wonder how long some of that stuff has been rattling around back there.
This side isn’t as pretty as the other side and the truck did exhibit a fair amount of rust – according to the owner the floorpans were pretty shot and I could note a few other visible areas that were concerning. In this end this is what put me off along with realizing that while the idea of an old truck sounds great, actually using it for more than just very local stuff is not that appealing.
Looking at these pictures again I’m struck by how perfect this truck looks forty-one years after it rolled off the assembly line and made its way out here. I guess America has always built great trucks, with an option for every need or desire and a solution for every use case. I hope this Dodge ended up with someone who appreciates it, as it seems as honest as a cowboy wearing his hat on a horse.