REAL STEEL

Un­der the skin of a diesel-pow­ered Power Wagon

Ultimate Diesel Builder's Guide - - Contents -

Vin­tage pick­ups are en­joy­ing a resur­gence in pop­u­lar­ity th­ese days. They rep­re­sent a more sim­ple ap­proach from a more sim­ple time in Amer­i­can his­tory. And both truck and diesel en­thu­si­asts are latch­ing on to them to add some mod­ern touches of their own to im­prove power and driv­abil­ity.

One such en­thu­si­ast is Brian Well­man of Cran­dall, In­di­ana. A life-long Mopar fa­natic, hav­ing owned such Ply­mouth clas­sics as an AAR ’Cuda and ’70s GTX, Brian spot­ted a 1970 W200 Dodge Crew Cab in Cal­i­for­nia for sale on­line and jumped at the chance to get his hands on it. The truck was in de­cent shape, with the ex­cep­tion of a few dents, and even had ev­i­dence of a civil ser­vice his­tory with the Sher­iff’s Depart­ment.

Once the truck was de­liv­ered back to In­di­ana, the project be­came a nine-year la­bor of love for Brian. Restor­ing the ride to near-new con­di­tion was the goal, along with adding Cum­mins power un­der the hood, which took some notch­ing of the fire­wall to make it fit and still keep the ra­di­a­tor cross­mem­ber in the stock lo­ca­tion.

A Hy­dro­boost brake sys­tem was added to ac­ti­vate the orig­i­nal drums at all four cor­ners while the steer­ing setup from a 4x2 F-250 was also in­cor­po­rated. Taller-than-stock leaf springs with dou­ble Ran­cho shocks at each Dana 4:10-geared axle make for plenty of room to fit 37-inch Dick Cepek ra­di­als mounted on 17x9-inch Race Line wheels.

With the fire­wall mod­i­fied, Brian was able to slip the ’93 12-valve Cum­mins into the Power Wagon’s huge engine bay thanks to cus­tom mo­tor mounts. A cus­tom air in­take with a con­i­cal fil­ter feeds the stock turbo while a 4-inch, cus­tom-fab­ri­cated ex­haust routes out spent ex­haust gases. Other than a cool Cum­mins bil­let dres­sup plate, and the in­take and ex­haust up­grades, the 12-valve is stock. Be­hind it is a ’92 A518 over­drive au­to­matic mated up to the orig­i­nal “di­vorced” 205 trans­fer case. In true retro Mopar style, Brian shifts the auto with an au­then­tic ’70 Chal­lenger pis­tol grip shifter.

What re­ally makes Brian’s Power Wagon stand out in a crowd, other than the R-4 Red paint job, is the at­ten­tion to de­tail in restor­ing the truck. New door han­dles were a must and Brian added an ’80s Dodge W-se­ries pickup chrome bumper

to the rear as well. On the in­side, Jay White of Dog­wood, In­di­ana, is cred­ited with up­hol­ster­ing the ’99 Dodge seats. A cus­tom Ron Fran­cis wiring sys­tem re­places the well-worked stock stuff while a Vin­tage Air sys­tem keeps the cab cool. And be­fore the cab was as­sem­bled, East­wood sound dead­en­ing was added.

We caught up with Brian’s Power Wagon at the Scheid Diesel Ex­trav­a­ganza, where it turned a lot of heads in the Show and Shine area. Best of all, his la­bor of love makes for a cool vin­tage daily driver with all the con­ve­niences of a more mod­ern pickup, and the power and re­li­a­bil­ity of a diesel to boot. UDBG

The ’93 Cum­mins 12-valve fits fairly well in the Dodge’s huge engine bay. The fire­wall had to be notched and re­worked to keep the engine far enough rear­ward to re­tain the fac­tory ra­di­a­tor cross­mem­ber. A cus­tom steel in­take fit­ted with a con­i­cal fil­ter helps get clean air into the turbo more quickly than a stock air box.

The new leafs make plenty of room for 37-inch Dick Cepek tires wrapped around 17x9inch Race Line wheels. Re­worked leaf springs, dual Ran­cho shocks and a steer­ing setup from an F-250 are uti­lized in front. The rear Dana 60 axle also uses re­worked leaf 4 Ran­cho shocks. Both axles are fit­ted with 4:10 gear­ing.

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