NOVEMBER 30, 2014 (DECEMBER 2014): ’63 TOPLESS DODGE PICKUP — ONE OF A KIND TRUCK

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Dodge trucks from the 1960s have a cult following thanks to the passage of time.

 

They were working machines fifty years ago so there was no glamour in a Dodge truck because they were built for the heavy load-not the country club.

 

Fifty years later they’re still not seen at the country club but gearheads love these old Dodges.

 

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Jim Wilbert fell into his relationship with his ’63 Dodge truck many years ago as he recalled: “I was not really looking for any projects in March of 1988, but someone put this truck next to the road and I stopped. It did not have a “for sale” sign on it but a deal was made. The truck was painted white, but I believe it had lime green and before that Industrial yellow under the white”.

 

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Jim took inventory of his project: “The truck is a 1963 Dodge ½ ton, regular cab, (originally 8 ft. box) currently a 6 ft. box. It came with a 6 cylinder, 4-speed. No power anything. It had a bad rear-end, so that was my first order, I replaced it with a newer style mid seventies rear out of a car”.

 

This truck saw more changes:Later I found and installed a 2:91 posi rear-end. I added more leaf springs as I hauled horse feed for several years and would fill the box with feed”.

 

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Even more changes came: “I drove the truck for 8 months and felt a V-8 would be better, I think I paid 300 for a 400 engine and transmission out of a ’74 Chrysler that the junk man said “came in from Miami last night” Funny it did not have any wheels on it and was just inside the gate. I remember the motor was very hard to pull with the car on the ground, no help from the yard. It was a great motor; I drove that for two years, and then wanted to build a small block for it”.

 

This most obvious alteration came at this point: “It was at this time I decided to cut the top. I like convertibles and thought I would keep it longer if I kept working on it. I painted the truck Turquoise, and built a top for rain. I also installed a 6 ft bed and stretched the cab, put jumper seats in back for the kids. People said the truck body would not stay straight without the top… they were wrong”.

 

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Jim’s engineering was put to the test in a big way: “I was hit by a drunk driver (whole other story) and the truck was totaled, I decided it was not and started to straighten it out. This took a few months and I wanted to change colors for the truck”.

 

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More tweaks followed:I found a 318 in a ’70 Plymouth, however, block numbers showed it to be a ’78 motor. I rebuilt it with a mild cam and four barrel, put a A-833 4-speed behind this, I think with the high gears it was not as strong as I thought it should be. It was fun to drive with the four speed, after about a year my knee did not like pushing the clutch”.

 

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The road adventures continued: “I was on the road in Virginia and a person fell asleep at the wheel and rear ended the truck, he had set his cruise at 80 and I was doing 55, sooo the truck was totaled again, I decided to make some changes”.

 

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This was simply another opportunity for Jim: “I pulled the 4-speed and installed a 727, rebuilt. I did paint the truck Viper red, as it is now. I also installed a 1962 Chrysler dash and taillights, This engine and transmission lasted 15 years, still running good”.

 

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More changes are in the future: “Recently I thought I would like to update the engine, I bought a ’96 dodge truck engine, 360 with a 4-speed automatic.. It has the computer and fuel injection. While the engine runs great, I seem to have a problem with the shifting… second goes in and out of 3rd, it is better when I lock out overdrive, and shifts fine when I shift manually. I think it may be the high gears or a shift sensor. The 360 has a better throaty sound than the 318. Not sure about gas mileage, I know this combination will out drive the limits of design for the truck, which still has front axle setup”.

 

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Jim drives his ’63 Dodge enough to make it a road warrior: “I drive the truck about 3000 miles a year… so not a lot. It is fun; I have shown it and did have a boat behind it for a while”.

 

There is a classic car guy philosophy behind this custom ride:

 

“Is it Perfect? Absolutely not, this truck has many flaws; this is a very low budget project… my “Topless Dodge”.

 

Jerry Sutherland

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