10 Forgotten Things About The Reliable Dodge D-Series Trucks

Long before the Ram trucks reached the top of the industry, there were the Dodge Ram trucks. Before that, the ever-tough and reliable Dodge D-Series trucks provided consumers with a pickup truck that could be used as a daily driver, workhorse, or toy all wrapped into one. Dodge trucks were first seen on the market for the 1961 model year. They went strong until 1993 when Dodge and Ram separated vehicle production and went their separate ways. Dodge started focusing on cars and SUVs while Ram focused on one thing; making the best pickup possible. Let’s take a look back at the Dodge D series trucks to get a better appreciation for it.

Related: 10 Most Reliable Pickup Trucks


10/10 Three generations that lasted 32 years

IFCAR via Wikimedia Commons

Side and front view of a Dodge D-Series pickup truck

Looking back over the years at some of the rival trucks in the industry, we can see that the Chevrolet Silverado with four generations and ascending, and the Ford F-Series with fourteen generations, the Dodge D-Series trucks are unique. They only had three generations of Dodge D-Series trucks, but those pickups spanned over 32 years. For most truck enthusiasts, that means the pickup was so well built that the only reason Dodge made a new generation was to bring a new, fresh look to the market.

9/10 The Hemi was not available for the Dodge D Series

A parked 1983 Dodge D150
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Front and side view of a 1983 Dodge D150

It may seem a little confusing, but the Dodge D-Series trucks have never had the privilege of having a Hemi under the hood. That’s not to say the trucks didn’t get powerful engines, because they did. Some of the options over the years include such powerful engines as the 440 and 400 Big Block V-8, plus the smaller 383 and 318 V-8s known for reliability. There were plenty of options if someone wanted big power and torque or less power but better fuel economy. However, there was no option for the Hemi engine until Ram took over for good.

Related: Everything You Need To Know About The Iconic Chevrolet K5 Blazer

8/10 Custom Sports Special Trucks were more than a truck

A parked Dodge D-series truck
dave_7 via Wikimedia Commons

Front and partial side view of a Dodge D-Series pickup truck

The muscle car craze had hit the three major automakers in the early 1960s, making it imperative that large, large-displacement engines be shoved under the hood of every car they could. But of course some people prefer trucks, “so what could be better than a truck designed to handle the big muscle cars?” they envisioned. Therefore, in 1964, the muscular Custom Sports Special Truck was produced for the market. It had sporty bucket seats, a 413 or 426 V8, a LoadFlite automatic transmission, power steering, a tachometer and a rear axle borrowed from the 1961 Imperials. It was an all-encompassing muscle truck, built to satisfy both worlds, all combined in one design .

7/10 “The Dude” came on the scene

A parked 1970 Dodge Dude
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Rear and side view of a 1970 Dodge Dude

Dodge created the next exceptional truck for the public: “The Dude.” Don Knotts was involved in acting at the time, but he took his time promoting the truck in various marketing campaigns. “The Dude” was designed with some obvious additions to the regular Dodge D-100 it was molded into, such as body side stripes, rear decals, taillight trim that was unique to the brand, and dog dish hubcaps. “The Dude” was only produced for the 1970s and 1971 model years, with 1500 to 2000 trucks built.

Related: 10 Most Unreliable Pickup Trucks

6/10 The third generation D-series stands the test of time

A parked 1990 Dodge Ram
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Front and side view of a 1990 Dodge Ram

Anyone who loves classic cars and trucks knows all about rust and how damaging it can be to a vehicle’s body and frame. It is formed by the combination of oxygen and moisture that causes the metal to slowly begin to erode, creating the rust that is common in older vehicles. However, that is not the case with the third-generation D-series trucks. They are designed and manufactured with excessive amounts of galvanized steel, preventing corrosion and rusting.

5/10 1973 released the Club Cab

A parked 1973 Dodge D200
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Front and side view of a 1973 Dodge D200 Adventurer Club Cab

A trend that started to form and has exploded in recent years is that a truck must have enough space to seat passengers and family members. In 1973, Dodge decided to meet growing demand by offering the Club Cab D Series trucks to the public. This was a pioneering move by the designers as it provided space behind the front seats for passengers, but was not as large and unwieldy as the Crew Cab.

Related: 10 things to know about the tough and durable Dodge Ramcharger

4/10 The third generation of the Dodge D Series offered many special models

A parked 1979 Dodge Lil Red Express
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Side view of a 1979 Lil Red Express

Choices. Choices. Choices. That’s what was offered to consumers throughout the third generation of the Dodge D-Series truck. There were many different special editions to choose from, such as the Macho Power Wagon, the Macho Power Wagon Top Hand, the Macho Power Wagon Palamino, and the Adventurer. They all had their place within the Dodge truck lineup, but there were two more models that created a whole new type of truck, the Lil Red Express and the Warlock, both of which are highly sought after classic collectible trucks today.

3/10 The first Dodge diesel engine in a pickup was introduced in 1978

A parked 1978 Dodge D200
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Side and front view of a 1978 Dodge D200

In the 1960s and 1970s, a work truck had to carry significant amounts of weight in the back of the truck and behind the truck on a trailer. But as demand grew, the need arose for a truck with more torque and better pulling power. That’s where the diesel engine came into the picture. Dodge introduced the first Dodge diesel engine in a pickup truck, meeting the need for pulling power and creating an entirely new section of trucks that consumers consumed as soon as they hit the market.

Related: 10 Work Trucks That Won’t Let You Down

2/10 The D series faded into the Dodge Ram

A parked 1985 Dodge Ram Prospector
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Front and side view of a 1985 Dodge Ram Prospector

In 1981, the long haul of the pickup truck faded as the D-series faded into the Dodge Ram, leaving the D-designated trucks in the past forever. The new Dodge Ram trucks were redesigned and produced with even more corrosion-resistant materials. If you look around in traffic you will see these trucks on the road these days. However, this line of Dodge pickups didn’t last very long, ending in 1993 when the Ram truck became a separate vehicle away from the main Dodge company.

1/10 The Dodge D Series followed its own path

A parked 1980 Dodge D100
Mecum Auctions

Front and side view of a 1980 Dodge D100

One thing that can be said about the Dodge company is that it marches to the beat of its own drum. Naturally, the company follows the trends it sees in consumer behavior to ensure it can still sell its trucks, but the D-Series trucks were built so well that not many changes were necessary between model years. only three separate generations of trucks. The bottom line is that the Dodge D Series followed its own path and created a classic truck to remember.


Q: What is the Dodge D Series?

It is a line of pickups that Dodge produced between 1961 and 1993 when it was acquired by Ram as an independent brand. The D Series pickups paved the way for some innovative ideas that are still used today.

Q: How many 1970 Dodge Warlock trucks were built?

The Dodge Warlock was a special edition truck designed as an ‘adult toy’ that created a striking truck that attracted attention and sold. In total, about 500 trucks were produced and offered for sale in 1970.

Q: What is the Lil Red Express?

The Lil Red Express was a Dodge truck designed for one thing; to compete with the muscle cars of the decade. It was so popular in its first year of production because of a loophole found by Dodge that allowed them to skip adding a catalytic converter because the truck could carry over 6,000 GVW.

Q: Which Dodge diesel engine is the best?

Over the years, Dodge has made some seriously awesome diesel engines. The one that has the reputation of being the best diesel engine developed by Dodge is the 6.7-liter Cummins straight-six diesel engine. This engine stands out from the crowd because it has plenty of power and performance that you can rely on to get almost any job done.

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