Junkyard Find: 1983 Dodge Ram 50 Prospector

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin
junkyard find 1983 dodge ram 50 prospector

Small pickups sold pretty well in the United States during the Malaise Era, and Ford and GM cashed in by importing and rebadging Mazda and Isuzu trucks, respectively. Chrysler, late to the party, turned to longtime partner Mitsubishi and began bringing in first-generation Forte pickups, starting in the 1979 model year.

Here’s a Dodge-badged version I found last week in a Denver self-service yard.

The Dodge Ram 50 (aka Dodge D50) and Plymouth Arrow pickup were cheap, fairly reliable, and got the job done. Once Mitsubishi started selling vehicles in the United States under its own badging, small-truck shoppers could buy a Mighty Max version as well.

The 2.6-liter Astron four-cylinder engine powered a bewildering assortment of US-market vehicles, from the K-Cars with “Hemi 2.6” engines to the exquisitely 1980s Mitsubishi Starion.

This truck has plenty of body filler and general hooptieness, but doesn’t seem rusty.

A very simple little truck, with simple controls and not much to go wrong. And now its constituent materials will reenter the commodities food chain.

The best EPA fuel economy of all small pickups with optional automatic transmissions? Yes, the D50 and its optimistic 28 highway miles per gallon.

You don’t have to look tough to be tough.

By 1983, the Ram 50 had to compete with the identical Mighty Max.

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2 of 40 comments
  • Nichodemus Nichodemus on Oct 13, 2016

    I still have an 87 D50 in my driveway. It ran until a few years ago. No power steering, no a/c, no radio, no cupholders, no tint at the top of the windshield, no power anything. Something happened with the stupid Mikuni carb. I took it off, and managed to break it. Yes. The bottom half was plastic. You can buy a Weber carb kit for it.

  • Ogre Backwash Ogre Backwash on Mar 08, 2017

    Great little truck and very tough. There is still a demand for small trucks but for some reasons they aren't being built anymore as far as I can tell.

  • Lou_BC Tassos and EB can each buy one and go in the backcountry to play with their Willys.
  • FreedMike Eighty grand...good lord. All for a truck I'm probably going to actually use once or twice as a truck.No thanks. If I need a truck to haul stuff home from Home Depot, I can rent one for $25 a day.
  • SCE to AUX Physically removing it from the cars they service tells me the company sees radar as some sort of hazard, despite their ability to disable it across the fleet via OTA updates. Creepy.
  • Art Vandelay So if it now actually costs less than the competition, where will the usual haters move the goalposts too now?
  • SCE to AUX Change "dog" to "child", and then tell me what mfr's lawyers will permit deployment of an autonomous vehicle.