by Richard Henley
For the first week polls were open, three trucks were running neck-and-neck for this special truck-only car of the month: a 2005 Dodge Ram Daytona, a 1984 Dodge Ramcharger, and a 1970 Dodge D200 Camper Special. By the time polls closed, the D200 featured here had won with 41% of the votes; the 2005 and 1984 trucks tied for second place with 20.6% each.
My '70 D200 Camper Special is my latest Mopar, and got off to a bit of a rough start. The second day I drove it, the A-727 transmission went south, but it was rebuilt locally and works fine. The truck still has its original 383 2-barrel engine, Dana 60 rear axle with 4.11:1 ratio, power steering, and power brakes. It has the optional 25 gallon fuel tank and heavy duty suspension like all the camper specials, and rides real nice in spite of it. It has a period-correct rear step bumper and Kelsey-Hayes electric trailer brake controller.
Previous owners were pretty hard on some things, and I had to rebuild quite a bit of the wiring and replace the dash where it was hacked for a car stereo. One of them painted over the original burnt orange with yellow. I reinstalled the factory AM radio, and had to remove the factory A/C setup and replace it with the standard heater as I couldn't find the heater core for the A/C setup; heat is much more important than originality.
In spite of going through several previous owners, the truck still has the owner’s manual in the glovebox and the orignal ingnition key. I added a Sun mini tach and an electric windshield washer bottle and transmission cooler from a 1985 Ramcharger. The windshield washer is operated by a 1976 Duster wiper switch, modified to accept the stock knob for the pickup. The original jack and tire tools still reside in their holders under the hood.
The truck was purchased in September 2008 to haul all my chains, binders, straps, tarps, and other equipment back to Springfield, Missouri after I was released to go back to work after being off for a year because of an injury. While waiting for the paperwork to clear so I could go back to work, the truck fed us by hauling scrap metal and cars for the local classic car wrecking yard.
Some might think I was crazy for heading out on a 750 mile road trip in the rain and snow with a 39 year old mostly original truck, but it made it without a hitch, and fuel economy was better than expected. By keeping the speeds down around 45 or 50 I got over 7 mpg, not bad for an old big block with 4.11s and no overdrive. Fun thing with the truck, even loaded it gets off from a stoplight faster than most cars, although they usually catch up around 45 mph.
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