The vin­tage D250 that didn’t get away

Ultimate Diesel Builder's Guide - - Contents - Text: Chris Tobin Pho­tog­ra­phy: Chris Tobin & cour­tesy of Ja­son Gunn

Many gear­heads have the story about the truck that got away, or the one they sold and later re­gret­ted. Thirty-five-year-old Ero­sion So­lu­tions fore­man Ja­son Gunn is no dif­fer­ent—the Athens, Ten­nesse res­i­dent drove a 1990 D250 while he was in high school. Af­ter high school, think­ing he was up­grad­ing, he sold the ’90 to pur­chase a 1996 Dodge Ram 2500 4X4 and lived to re­gret it, soon wish­ing he had that 1st Gen Cum­mins truck back. Kick­ing him­self for sell­ing the one he had, Gunn went on a hunt for an­other ’90 to re­place his first love.

Fi­nally in 2010 Gunn’s step­dad found a 1st Gen that he thought might spark his in­ter­est. Af­ter see­ing and driv­ing the truck, Gunn re­al­ized that it was set up ex­actly the same as his old high school truck. Not want­ing to let an­other ’90 slip through his fin­gers, he bought the truck and used it as his daily driver for the next four years. Af­ter four years of qual­ity time in the ’90 he de­cided it was time to give the 24-year-old truck a facelift and the restora­tion and cus­tomiza­tion process be­gan.

Gunn started work­ing from the bot­tom up so to speak, in­stalling sus­pen­sion up­grades and wheels and tires be­fore mov­ing on to the rest. To give the front end some ad­di­tional height he in­stalled a set of Moog 7220 springs while he cleaned and painted all the sus­pen­sion com­po­nents. In the rear, he cleaned and painted all the stock sus­pen­sion com­po­nents along with the en­tire frame to re­ally dress up the chas­sis. For rolling stock he chose to in­stall a set of black and ma­chined alu­minum Race­line Wheels 16X8-inch Rap­tor wheels that are wrapped in Cooper Dis­cov­erer A/T3 LT305/70R16 tires to give the truck an ag­gres­sive look with a lit­tle ad­di­tional height.

With the sus­pen­sion work­ing and look­ing bet­ter, Gunn turned his at­ten­tion to the Cum­mins en­gine un­der the hood. The non-in­ter­cooled tur­bod­iesel 5.9L en­gine was rated at only 160 hp in 1990 so he wanted to boost per­for­mance, but didn’t want to go crazy with it ei­ther as this was for a show and cruise truck not a race truck. He

re­tained the stock in­ter­nals while in­stalling a set of 100hp in­jec­tors as well as mod­i­fy­ing the VP44 pump with a Danny T fuel pin and 3200 gover­nor springs. He stayed with the stock H1C turbo but en­hanced it with a 16 CM tur­bine from BD Diesel to give him faster spool­ing and bet­ter throt­tle re­sponse. To squeeze even more per­for­mance out of the en­gine he added some ad­di­tional tim­ing to the pump. The en­gine in­hales through a Sin­is­ter Diesel in­take and air fil­ter and ex­pels spent gasses through a 4-inch Di­a­mond Eye turbo-back ex­haust sys­tem. He es­ti­mates that it is now mak­ing around 300 hp and close to 600 lb-ft of torque.

Since Gunn had show-truck as­pi­ra­tions with his D250, he de­tailed the en­gine and en­gine com­part­ment by paint­ing ev­ery­thing he could in bright red paint. He also cleaned up and loomed all the wiring and had a cus­tom valve cover plate ma­chined to cap off the red valve cov­ers.

Next, at­ten­tion was given to the body where Gunn and his friend Danny Crass at the Athens Col­li­sion Cen­ter in Athens worked tire­lessly to smooth the body to per­fec­tion. They re­moved the fac­tory trim and badges and filled in the holes to give the truck a com­pletely smooth body. Then Crass and Jeff Graves

laid on sev­eral coats of Colorado Red and PS2 Sil­ver to make the truck stand out in a crowd. Rather than keep­ing with the orig­i­nal wide two-tone de­sign that does not fol­low the body lines, Gunn wanted a de­sign that would match the clas­sic Dodge’s lines. He was also in­sis­tent that the two col­ors meet on the body with­out the need for pin­strip­ing to cover up the union. He spent much time him­self in the paint booth smooth­ing out the fine-line pain­ters tape to en­sure a seam­less fin­ish with no bleed through un­der the tape. When the mo­ment of truth came and the tape was ready to peel, their hard work was re­warded with a per­fect fin­ish where the two col­ors meet smoothly on the sides of the truck.

To give the truck a tougher touch Roger Carter fab­ri­cated the cus­tom front and rear bumpers to re­place the fac­tory front and rear bumpers. The front bumper in­te­grates large mounts for shack­les as well as a small pair of LED driv­ing lights and a large light bar in the cen­ter to light up the dark Ten­nessee roads at night. The bumpers are fin­ished in a rugged black tex­tured semi-gloss fin­ish that should hold up to just about any­thing. The fi­nal ex­te­rior touch was to spray the in­side of the bed in black bed­liner ma­te­rial to give it a uni­form good look and pro­tect it in the case Gunn ever does have to carry some tools or cargo in the bed.

Of course, while paint was fly­ing the team also re­painted all the metal in­side the truck’s cab. While the in­te­rior was gut­ted he in­stalled new Mem­phis 6X9-inch speak­ers be­fore re­fur­bish­ing or re­plac­ing the door pan­els and other stock in­te­rior com­po­nents from the 25-yearold truck. For seat­ing, Gunn pur­chased a used split-bench seat with a fold-down arm­rest out of an ’01 Dodge then stripped the pad­ding and up­hol­stery and re­fin­ished the frame. Jeff Brown in­stalled new seat foam and a new fac­tory gray seat cover to match the rest of the gray in­te­rior in the truck. The fac­tory gauge clus­ter is in great shape but he aug­mented it with LED back­light­ing and in­stalled a dual-gauge A-pil­lar pod to house a pair of Au­tome­ter Sport-comp gauges to mon­i­tor boost and EGT of the Cum­mins. To fin­ish off the in­te­rior he re­placed the fac­tory ra­dio with a touch-screen flip-out An­droid re­ceiver to give him high qual­ity tunes.

When Gunn fin­ished the truck in Septem­ber of 2015 he brought the truck to a sled pull and truck show in Greenville, Tenn., that fea­tured a show-n-shine com­pe­ti­tion where he was awarded the Best in Show award jus­ti­fy­ing his hard work. Since then he has en­tered sev­eral other shows and events cap­tur­ing award af­ter award with his ul­tra-clean 1990 Dodge D250. It may not be his orig­i­nal high school truck, but this Old School truck is much nicer and he plans to hold onto this one. In fact, Ja­son and his wife Jen­nifer even­tu­ally want to build a sec­ond truck so that one day his kids Jai­lynn and Jaryn can show the trucks. UDBG

Ja­son Gunn’s Project Old School 1990 Dodge D250 is an award-win­ning show truck that he built with the help of a few friends and fam­ily.

Pop­ping the hood on the D250 re­veals a clean en­gine bay and non-in­ter­cooled Cum­mins VP44 12-valve with bright red ac­cents. IN­SET: Gunn had an alu­minum plate ma­chined to show off the truck’s name of the side of the fender well above the loomed wire har­ness

The VP44 uses a Danny T fuel pin as well as 3200 gover­nor springs to feed 100hp in­jec­tors for more power and bet­ter per­for­mance out of the stock Cum­mins en­gine.

More red paint is splashed across the top of the en­gine in­clud­ing the in­take el­bow as well as the valve cov­ers and cus­tom valve cover plate.

With the re­uphol­stered split-bench seat from an ’01 Dodge in­stalled the in­te­rior of Gunn’s ’90 is a very com­fort­able place. The front grille is not per­fect, but Gunn has been un­able to find a new one, and it is in good shape for a 27-year-old truck. Roger

Gunn in­stalled a gauge pod on the A-pil­lar to house an Au­tome­ter Sport-comp boost and EGT gauge to keep an eye on the Cum­mins. Gunn re­placed the fac­tory ra­dio with a flip-out touch-screen An­droid re­ceiver to give him good tunes when­ever he is cruis­ing alo

The new two-tone paint is rem­i­nis­cent of the orig­i­nal but bet­ter in ev­ery way at the same time. Gunn re­worked the sus­pen­sion in­stalling new springs up front to give the truck a good stance and fit the larger tires and wheels un­der the rig.

While the truck is more of a show truck than a work truck, Gunn still ap­plied a spray-in bed­liner for the nice uni­form fin­ish and to pro­tect it in case he needs to haul any­thing in the bed. The rear axle also sports a Cooper tire Race­line wheel com­bi­na­tio

Gunn has been col­lect­ing tro­phies and plaques with Project Old School since he com­pleted it and en­tered his first show-n-shine in­clud­ing sev­eral for Best of Show and/or Best Dodge.

Gunn’s truck looks good from any an­gle and the cus­tom fab­ri­cated rear bumper works well with the truck while of­fer­ing plenty of body pro­tec­tion from inat­ten­tive driv­ers.

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