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1966 Dodge trucks and vans

1965 tilt cab

Dodge had a full line of trucks in 1966, ranging from the A-series compact vans and pickups to the L-series heavy duty rigs — not to mention a popular range of campers.

Dodge LN-1000 heavy duty tilt-cab

The high-tonnage, heavy-duty tilt cab series (including the LN-1000 above) had arrived in February 1964, ready for work with numerous options. It came in tandem and single axle models, with diesel engines including those from “Dodge-Cummins,” and choices of wheelbase, weight ratings, and chassis components. In 1965, Dodge claimed to have several makes and sizes of diesel engines available in addition to the inline-six Cummins.

The LN-1000 pictured had a GCW rating of 76,800 pounds, and was powered by a 250 horsepower Cummins diesel hooked up to a five-speed Spicer transmission and a two-speed rear axle.

A new medium-duty tilt-cab was also introduced, in February 1966.

1966 dodge a-van

At the other end of the spectrum, and far more popular, was the A-series van and pickup line, tipping the scales at under 3,000 pounds (with slant six). Options included payload capacities of over a ton and a V8, while standard features for 1966 included wider cargo doors and a full-foam bucket seat as standard equipment.

1965 dodge a-100 van

Normally these were powered by a slant six engine — over 35,000 slant six powered A100s were sold, compared with under 10,000 V8s. The vans were more popular than the pickups; half-ton A100 pickups, which had been introduced in 1964, continued without change, with just over 22,000 sold in the US.

D100

The lightest entry in the standard-sized trucks was the D-100. The half-ton and three-quarter-ton models had a new 128 inch wheelbase model for better weight distribution, and a choice of Sweptline or Utiline bodies; for 1966, the Sweptlines got a new full-width tailgate that could be opened or closed with one hand. The truck shown above is a D-100 half-ton with Sweptline body. The various D and W series trucks (D series were rear drive, W were 4x4) came with dome light, a single sun visor, painted front bumper and hubcaps, seat belts, dual-speed wipers, a single outside mirror, and front and rear shocks — unless you got a one-ton, which only had front shocks.

1966 Dodge D300 pickup truck

The Dodge D-300 pickup above had a 140 gross horsepower slant six engine; the 300 horsepower 318 V8 was optional. The pictured vehicle had a 9-foot stake body, GVW of 10,000 pounds, and payload of 5,240 pounds... all powered by a slant six with a roughly-estimated 110 net horsepower. (In the interests of accuracy, we note that around 4,000 slant sixes and around 5,000 V8s were sold in the D-300 line. W300 buyers were far more likely to get a V8, but there were only around 850 of them!)

Most of the lighter duty trucks had a base slant six, with a 273 cubic inch, 174 horsepower V8 option for compacts and D-series trucks. The 413 was added to the lineup for some medium duty models, with 217 gross horsepower at 3,600 rpm and 373 lb-ft of torque at a low 2,000 rpm. Diesel engines were made by Cummins; new diesels for 1965-1966 were the V8E-235 and V8-265, both naturally aspirated four-cycle engines.

By this time, Dodge was making running changes rather than waiting for new model years to introduce new features and improvements. In August 1965, Dodge had introduced a new, close-ratio manual transmission for light duty trucks, which allowed for more efficient, economical operation and higher speeds than the standard transmission.

  1st 2nd 3rd Reverse
Close Ratio 4.56 2.28 1.31 5.64
Standard 6.68 3.34 1.66 8.26

For 1966, the number of basic heavy-duty diesel trucks was cut from 14 to 6, ostensibly to streamline ordering procedures and speed up delivery time; the number of available driveline components and options remained the same. Two fresh air heaters were added.

tilt cab

The company had closed out the 1965 model year with just over 130,000 domestic truck sales, a 36% increase over 1964 and close to Dodge’s record; in 1966 they sold nearly 120,000 trucks within the US, and international sales ran to around 150,000. The division had been steadily building sales; in 1961, just under 41,000 trucks had moved. By 1964 Dodge had sold nearly 96,000 trucks, and Dodge compact pickups had 18% of that segment; overall they had a 9% U.S. market share for 1966.

Investments for the future included a new light-duty truck facility in St. Louis, a heavy-duty diesel installation near the Warren truck plant (though they sold fewer than 2,000 diesel-powered trucks), and a 300,000 square foot addition to Warren Truck itself. An expanded distribution system was created in 1965, with a national network of truck branches and servicing centers. Field engineers were assigned to 23 regional sales offices to help customers order the right truck for the job.

The new St. Louis plant was designed to be able to build 100,000 light trucks per year, by late 1966, with up to 1,000 employees on a single shift. In contrast, heavy duty diesel trucks were to be manufactured in a new facility near, but not in, the Warren plant; this new factory took up a renovated 92,000 square foot building, and was taken to allow for making twice as many of the big diesel trucks.

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