Dodge B Series

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Chrysler's Dodge division has used the B Series name on two different vehicles, a pickup truck and a van.

Pickup truck

The pickup trucks were sold from 1948 through 1953. It replaced the prewar Dodge Truck and was replaced by the Dodge C Series in 1954. The B Series trucks came in several different variants. The B1-B were 1/2 ton trucks standard with a 95 horsepower (71 kW) flathead-straight 6 engine while the B1-C were 3/4 ton trucks with a standard 108 horsepower (81 kW) flathead-straight 6 engine. It also came in several other variants such as the B1-T and B1-V which were semi-truck cabs and vans, respectively.

The B Series trucks featured a high-visibility "pilot house" cab with optional rear quarter windows. Weight was shifted forward on the old Truck frame to increase capacity. Shifting the weight to the front also caused an unexpected problem. Over time the stress on the front half of the frame caused many trucks to buckle and break in the middle. This provides one explanation as to why there are very few of these trucks remaining. Another innovation for the time was the use of cross-steering arrangement. This gave the trucks a 37° turning radius when combined with the enlarged 108in wheelbase for the B1-B and 116in wheelbase for the B1-C. The cargo box space was increased over previous models and overhaul springs made optional on all variants to increase hauling capacity. Rear quarter glass were also made optional for the first time to eliminate the notorious blind spots created by pilot-houses.


The B Series also refers to full-sized vans made by the Dodge Division of Chrysler Corporation from 1970 (as early 1971 models) through 2003. During that time, they were originally numbered B100, B200, and B300; the numbers were later upped by 50 (B150, etc.) and finally multiplied by ten (B1500, B2500, B3500) in the mid-1990s. The actual names were Dodge Sportsman, Dodge Tradesman, Dodge Van, and Plymouth Voyager (1974-1983) at first; they later changed to Ram Van, Ram Wagon, and, briefly, Mini Ram Van. There was also a Kary Van extended height model.

The cargo and passenger vans used the same frame and powerplants (both 6- and 8-cylinder engines), but the passenger vans had seats for up to 15 passengers (on the extended length, long-wheelbase Maxivans), dual air-conditioning systems (in later years), and large windows on both sides. The 15-passenger vans are today commonly used by commuters, church groups, scouts, urban camping, and some corporations. Throughout their run, two wheelbases were used: 109 and 127 inches (3,200 mm), with an extended length version based on the 127-inch (3,200 mm) wheelbase. Engines ranged from the 198-cubic-inch Slant Six (available only in 1970-71), to the 440-cubic-inch V8 (only briefly available in the late 1970s), with factory compressed-natural-gas 318-cubic-inch (5.2L) engines available from around 1995 onwards, to fleet buyers only. A popular Kary Van (basically a factory-built cube van, instead of upfitted by an aftermarket company), which extended the cargo area height to 6 feet, 2 inches, was added in 1972. A sliding door was made optional in 1974; that same year, the original stamped aluminum grille was also replaced with a molded plastic part. A one-piece rear door and hard-service interior were made optional in 1975. [1]

For many years, Dodge was the sales leader for vans, including conversions for tradespeople, ambulances, school buses, and campers, working with numerous upfitters to provide alternatives for customers. However, in 1979, the RV market crashed, and Dodge stopped making RV chassis; their van sales also dropped roughly in half. After that, upgrades to the "B-vans" came more slowly, especially as the vans' utility was in some ways duplicated by the company's own popular Plymouth Voyager and Dodge Caravan minivans.

In 1988, a 239-cubic-inch (3.9L) V6 originally developed for the Dodge Dakota mid-size pickup replaced the 225-cubic-inch (3.7L) Slant Six, and throttle body injection was given to the 318 V8. The 360-cubic-inch (5.9L) V8 gaining fuel injection and a roller camshaft in 1989. In 1990, rear wheel antilock brakes were made optional, along with a heavy-duty four-speed automatic transmission.

In 1992, the V6 and 5.2L V8 engines were fitted with sequential multiple-port fuel injection (SMPI) and a "barrel"-type intake manifold, which boosted power dramatically, and the outboard positions of the rear seat gained three-point belts. In the same year, compressed natural gas 5.2L engines became optional for fleet buyers. The 5.9L received the new intake and SMPI for 1993.

Numerous changes to the drivetrain, body, and suspension were made after 1993, as Dodge tried to make the vans more competitive, leading to a fairly sizeable redesign in 1998, which added numerous features, made the vans more driveable and safer, and added power to the 5.9L V8 engine. More, and also substantial, changes were made for the 2000 model year, but little was changed from then until the final vans. [1] Dodge stopped making the vans in 2003, citing the expense of meeting future safety standards and slow sales. The Pillette Road plant in Windsor, Ontario which made the vans was closed down and later demolished.

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