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.

Join the conversation
3 of 31 comments
  • 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.

  • Nrd515 I bought an '88 S10 Blazer with the 4.3. We had it 4 years and put just about 48K on it with a bunch of trips to Nebraska and S. Dakota to see relatives. It had a couple of minor issues when new, a piece of trim fell off the first day, and it had a seriously big oil leak soon after we got it. The amazinly tiny starter failed at about 40K, it was fixed under some sort of secret warranty and we got a new Silverado as a loaner. Other than that, and a couple of tires that blew when I ran over some junk on the road, it was a rock. I hated the dash instrumentation, and being built like a gorilla, it was about an inch and a half too narrow for my giant shoulders, but it drove fine, and was my second most trouble free vehicle ever, only beaten by my '82 K5 Blazer, which had zero issues for nearly 50K miles. We sold the S10 to a friend, who had it over 20 years and over 400,000 miles on the original short block! It had a couple of transmissions, a couple of valve jobs, a rear end rebuild at 300K, was stolen and vandalized twice, cut open like a tin can when a diabetic truck driver passed out(We were all impressed at the lack of rust inside the rear quarters at almost 10 years old, and it just went on and on. Ziebart did a good job on that Blazer. All three of his sons learned to drive in it, and it was only sent to the boneyard when the area above the windshield had rusted to the point it was like taking a shower when it rained. He now has a Jeep that he's put a ton of money into. He says he misses the S10's reliablity a lot these days, the Jeep is in the shop a lot.
  • Jeff S Most densely populated areas have emission testing and removing catalytic converters and altering pollution devices will cause your vehicle to fail emission testing which could effect renewing license plates. In less populated areas where emission testing is not done there would probably not be any legal consequences and the converter could either be removed or gutted both without having to buy specific parts for bypassing emissions. Tampering with emission systems would make it harder to resell a vehicle but if you plan on keeping the vehicle and literally running it till the wheels fall off there is not much that can be done if there is no emission testing. I did have a cat removed on a car long before mandatory emission testing and it did get better mpgs and it ran better. Also had a cat gutted on my S-10 which was close to 20 years old which increased performance and efficiency but that was in a state that did not require emission testing just that reformulated gas be sold during the Summer months. I would probably not do it again because after market converters are not that expensive on older S-10s compared to many of the newer vehicles. On newer vehicles it can effect other systems that are related to the operating and the running of the vehicle. A little harder to defeat pollution devices on newer vehicles with all the systems run by microprocessors but if someone wants to do it they can. This law could be addressing the modified diesels that are made into coal rollers just as much as the gasoline powered vehicles with cats. You probably will still be able to buy equipment that would modify the performance of a vehicles as long as the emission equipment is not altered.
  • ToolGuy I wonder if Vin Diesel requires DEF.(Does he have issues with Sulfur in concentrations above 15ppm?)
  • ToolGuy Presented for discussion: https://xroads.virginia.edu/~Hyper2/thoreau/civil.html
  • Kevin Ford can do what it's always done. Offer buyouts to retirement age employees, and transfers to operating facilities to those who aren't retirement age. Plus, the transition to electric isn't going to be a finger snap one time event. It's going to occur over a few model years. What's a more interesting question is: Where will today's youth find jobs in the auto industry given the lower employment levels?