By on July 28, 2012

When you write about one Malaise Era Dodge pickup, you might as well follow it up with another on the very next day. These days, crew cabs are nearly ubiquitous on big pickups, but the idea of a truck with a back seat in the cab was still something of a novelty in the middle 1970s, so this truck is an interesting truck history lesson.
The idea of using a 3/4-ton pickup truck as a commuter to one’s suburban office-cubicle job hadn’t taken over the country in 1974, and so these trucks were made for hauling construction supplies and large sweaty dudes with hardhats and Thermoses full of bad coffee.
Thus, luxury touches were minimal, and the space behind the front seat was intolerably cramped by 21st-century standards.
Also intolerable by current standards would be a mere 180 horsepower— which is what you got out of this smog-strangled 360— for such a big vehicle.
With a granny-gear 4-speed and a 4.10 gear out back (if we are to believe this truck’s equipment-identification sticker), however, this ’74 probably did just fine hauling cinder blocks around a job site.
Those days are over for this truck. Next stop: The Crusher!

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21 Comments on “Junkyard Find: 1974 Dodge D-200 Club Cab Custom...”

  • avatar
    el scotto

    Bad Coffee? I was filling up my thermos around 5 AM one morning. I asked the cashier when she had made coffee. Her response oh bout 2 when the drunks came in. Bad coffee that had been sitting for 3 hours.

  • avatar

    Someone swapped a valve cover from an older small block onto that one. Beginning in late 1971 all small block chryslers came from the factory painted blue.

  • avatar

    I really don’t remember the year but there was an aftermarket company that was providing a lot of the cab extensions for these. I was closely associated with one in the mid eighties and it was a comment maker.

    OTOH, I had one in my 81 Datsun and nobody thought much of it.

  • avatar
    Firestorm 500

    Look at that big ‘ol gas tank back there in the “Club” portion. What were they thinking?

    And people worried about Pintos?

    • 0 avatar

      I was gonna say! Not just any ol’ fuel tank, either: 25 gallons of fun! That must have extended the range of that beast by at least 100 miles (especially with the 4.10 rear end).

  • avatar
    punkybrewstershubby aka Troy D.

    Interesting how the grilles on this and a Honda Ridgeline match…

  • avatar

    Unmentioned in the article is that Dodge pioneered this design. Ford quickly followed, and GM in its imitable style waited until 1988 with the GMT-400.

    1974 was the dawn of the “camper special” era where families were loading up slide-ins onto eight (or sometimes nine) foot boxes and going camping, often with small humans in tow, hence the legroom-challenged “extra-cab”. You were starting to see more half and 3/4 tons in parks, and fewer station wagons.

    I think most construction sites still used crew cabs, which had been available prior to this innovation.

    In 1975 you saw the advent of the Silverado trim line, and I believe the “Ranger” trim line on F150s debuted right around this time as well, indicating how the buyers for these types of vehicles were the ones moving from passenger cars, and expecting the creature comforts they were used to on their Colony Park.

    • 0 avatar

      Yup, 86er, Dodge came up with the Club Cab…

      I bought a 1974 D100 Manual, 2WD Club Cab, 8-foot box when they arrived…as a commuting vehicle with camping and house-building in mind.

      It was perfect: $3600 brand-spanking new, with a slant-6 engine. You could not buy any conventional sedan or van, and get that same inexpensive ease-of-maintenance, space, ruggedness, and functionality. MY kid loved that little space behind the seat as their “club house” (pun) and play area for trips. (And, BTW, the fiberglass gas tank was underneath, tucked safely BETWEEN frame members (unlike GM, who mounted the gas tank OUTSIDE the frame next to the body side-panels — talk about your “Pinto syndrome”!)

      I loved that truck. Had it for 22 years and 225,000 miles. It had started to rust out – gave it to a monk who drove it another 3 years, and he gave it to a farmer who drove it another 3 years, and….who knows what happened next (^_^)….


    • 0 avatar

      As kids we just spent the entire summer in the back of the regular cab with a shell on it. Dad had laid plywood over the top of the bed and Mom had covered 3, 6 inch thick foam slabs with covers, and we rode back ther cross country all the time. We would slide through the rear windows to the cab if we wanted to get something from up front while we flew down the highway.

      My kids are so missing out.

  • avatar

    Growing up in Seattle it seemed every other Dodge pickup was either a Forest Sevice truck or an ex-Forest Service truck. They were all painted that awful light green.

    • 0 avatar

      If you paid attention, an ex-forest service truck was a pretty useful vehicle. The thing to do was to find one that had spent its life in central or eastern Oregon or eastern Washington, for two reasons: First, there is a lot of open country in those parts and rigs had to be well maintained to avoid breakdowns far, far from the barn. Second, that is dry country and there’s less chance of body rust. If the seller doesn’t know where the truck was used, look for red dirt on the undersides of things…that’s a good indication of an eastern Oregon back-road vehicle. I don’t think I ever got all the red dirt off my ex-forest service 1968 Chevy pickup.

  • avatar

    These trucks also had what were referred to as “jump seats,”the type that faced inboard, providing ample room for smaller children.
    Our neighbors had a 75 or 76 3/4 ton with those. They had a big overhead slide in camper that they hauled with it, the camper also stuck out past the rear of the truck by about 2 feet. I can’t remember the year, but Dodge was also the first to feature a tailgate that could be removed without using hand tools, it came out sometime in the mid-late 70’s. They also brought out the first 4 door 6 passenger truck, in 1963 I believe, or possibly 64. What alot of younger people don’t know is that during the 70’s and up into the 80’s ford and gm 4X4’s used New Process transfer cases, which were made by chrysler.

  • avatar

    Chrysler built this body style for ages, we just took a ’92 Ram off the road at work that was still essentially the same truck as this ’74. I used to love driving that thing, very basic, very utilitarian, but with the 4WD it would climb anything, and in terms of towing, payload capacity, and bed length, it was every bit as utilitarian as the new breed of modern mega-sized trucks. A new F-150 towered over the thing, despite them being allegedly in the same size class.

    We’ll keep it as an off-road plow truck until something really expensive breaks, so it will live for some time yet.

    What really killed it (besides the board putting money in the budget for a new truck for the first time in like a decade) was the fact that its been getting harder and harder to get parts. For as many of these trucks as Dodge (and Fargo) sold between 1972 and 1993, its really amazing that dealers and parts warehouses really don’t keep much in stock for them anymore. It took 3 weeks to get new straps for the fuel tank.

    These days, if you want to keep an old truck on the road, it had better be a Ford or a Chevy/GMC, Dodges are getting surprisingly tough.

    • 0 avatar

      Around here the 73-87 Chevy/GMC trucks either out-sold or out-lasted everything else, because there are still tons of them driving around and yet Fords are rare and Dodges before the mid-80s are completely nonexistent.

      • 0 avatar

        Dodge trucks are the favorite of Mexicans south of the border. GM are their least favorite, but that’s where millions of our aging trucks go, greater that 10 years old.

        • 0 avatar

          That reminds me of something I heard about older medium and heavy duty trucks being sent to third world countries because they become too expensive to maintain here in the US.

          Dunno if that’s true or not.

          • 0 avatar

            True. Replacement parts for medium duty and up, commercial trucks are junk. In fact, junkyard OEM parts are the better choice, when you can find them. Then, aging trucks become obsolete by new safety, emissions and capacity.

            California is the process banning older diesel engines, pre 2010 emissions. It’s unknown which states will follow, but yeah, lots more trucks for the 3rd world.

  • avatar

    Mechanical parts for these are as close as your nearest Auto Zone. Unfortunately body and trim parts weren’t reproduced for them for many years until lately. Now a company by the name of Raybuck Auto Body Parts makes every body panel for one, including rockers and floor pans. Precision Restoration Parts is now beginning to make trim and weatherstripping pieces.
    The original radiator went in my 77 about 4 years ago, so I got a Modine unit from Auto Zone for $160.00.

    • 0 avatar

      Many parts and even body panels for older vehicles are becoming harder to find since the bail outs of GM and Chrysler. Many small suppliers have gone under since they were not bailed out.

      A buddy of mine told me yesterday that he had a hell of a time finding an AC low-pressure cut-off switch for his ’92 S-10 because the only place to get that part now is from a GM dealer, at a GM price, out of old, pre-bailout stock.

      All you can get from the parts houses now are switches with the huge connector housing on them.

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