Junkyard Find: 1960 Dodge D200 Pickup, With Genuine Flathead Power

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin
junkyard find 1960 dodge d200 pickup with genuine flathead power

Chrysler’s flathead (aka “L-head”) straight-six engine is one of the forgotten heroes of prewar and postwar Detroit, being produced from 1929 through some undefined year in the early 1970s (for stationary use, e.g., in generators and irrigation pumps). There was even a five-bank, 30-cylinder version made for tanks. It appears that it was possible to buy a new Dodge truck with the flathead six through the 1968 model year, though some say that Uncle Sam was the only buyer for the last few years of flathead Dodges. Most buyers opted for futuristic overhead-valve engines by the 1960s, anyway, but here’s a D-series pickup in a California wrecking yard that still has its L-head.

The flathead six that came with my 1941 Plymouth ended up being sold to some Craigslist buyer who drove all the way from Nebraska to Denver to pick it up for his DeSoto project (my car is getting a Vortec 4200 DOHC six out of a Trailblazer and a mid-1990s Corvette ZR-1 six-speed; I thought about keeping the flathead for a future fenderless street rod project, but engine hoarding gets ugly in a hurry).

A 1950 Dodge pickup with 217-cubic-inch Chrysler flathead won the Index of Effluency award at the 2014 Utah 24 Hours of LeMons race. So, I’m a big fan of this engine and it was exciting to spot one at a U-Grab-It wrecking yard a couple months ago.

This 230-cubic-inch engine was rated at 120 horsepower, but it made a respectable 202 pounds-feet of torque. Coupled with the granny-gear manual transmission, this truck probably wasn’t much fun on the freeway but could haul big loads (with driver patience).

Fifty-five years of rainwater sitting in the bed did this. It’s possible that this truck never spent a night in a garage.

This interior had been picked over well, but it didn’t look much different with seats and gauges.

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  • Wantahertzdonut Wantahertzdonut on Oct 14, 2015

    @Drzhivago- now that you mention it, I think the bumper option went even later for some. My brother bought a new Nissan pickup in 1990 without a rear bumper. As a recent grad, he needed to opt down as much as possible so he could afford to get A/C for life in Houston.

    • MRF 95 T-Bird MRF 95 T-Bird on Oct 14, 2015

      Back in the late 80's a friend of mine bought a base model S-10. 2.5 Iron Duke, Bench seat, dog dish caps and the rear bumper was an option. Apparently it was extra until the mid-90's replacement.

  • Jeff S Jeff S on Oct 14, 2015

    My granddad had a 58 version of this truck black with white bumpers and grill with white hubcaps. His was a step side with 3 on the tree and nothing else, not even a radio. He traded it in on a left over 63 IH step side in Jan. 64 with a straight 6, three on the tree, and no radio. The IH was a much better truck. He got a good deal on the IH and a local farmer bought his Dodge as soon as he traded it in. My granddad always took excellent care of his vehicles and they always had lower than average mileage. I do remember this truck being not nearly as reliable and good as his 50 Dodge pickup.

  • Inside Looking Out In June 1973, Leonid Brezhnev arrived in Washington for his second summit meeting with President Richard Nixon. Knowing of the Soviet leader’s fondness for luxury automobiles, Nixon gave him a shiny Lincoln Continental. Brezhnev was delighted with the present and insisted on taking a spin around Camp David, speeding through turns while the president nervously asked him to slow down. https://academic.oup.com/dh/article-abstract/42/4/548/5063004
  • Bobby D'Oppo Great sound and smooth power delivery in a heavier RWD or AWD vehicle is a nice blend, but current V8 pickup trucks deliver an unsophisticated driving experience. I think a modern full-size pickup could be very well suited to a manual transmission.In reality, old school, revvy atmo engines pair best with manual transmissions because it's so rewarding to keep them in the power band on a winding road. Modern turbo engines have flattened the torque curve and often make changing gears feel more like a chore.
  • Chuck Norton For those worried about a complex power train-What vehicle doesn't have one? I drive a twin turbo F-150 (3.5) Talk about complexity.. It seems reliability based on the number of F-150s sold is a non-issue. As with many other makes/models. I mean how many operations are handle by micro processors...in today's vehicles?
  • Ravenuer The Long Island Expressway.
  • Kwik_Shift A nice stretch of fairly remote road that would be great for test driving a car's potential, rally style, is Flinton Road off of Highway 41 in Ontario. Twists/turns/dips/rises. Just hope a deer doesn't jump out at you. Also Highway 60 through Algonquin Provincial Park in Ontario. Great scenery with lots of hills.