Dodge D Series

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For Dodge's modern full-size pickup, see Dodge Ram (full-size pickup).
Dodge D Series
Dodge D-Series
Parent companyChrysler Corporation
Also calledDodge Ram (1981-1993)
AssemblyWarren, Michigan
SuccessorDodge Ram
ClassFull-size pickup truck
Body style(s)2-door truck
4-door truck
LayoutFront engine, rear-wheel drive / four-wheel drive
PlatformChrysler AD platform
ManualsService Manual
First generation
1961 Dodge 100
Engine(s)170 cu in Slant-6 I6
225 cu in Slant-6 I6
426 cu in RB V8, 365 hp (272 kW) and 470 ft·lbf (637 Nm) gross
318 cu in A V8
Transmission(s)3-speed push button automatic

The D Series was a line of pickup trucks sold by the Dodge division of American automaker Chrysler Corporation from 1961 to 1980. After 1980, the trucks were renamed as the Dodge Ram and the same basic design was retained until the 1994 introduction of a completely redesigned Ram. The D Series shared its AD platform with the Dodge Ramcharger/Plymouth Trailduster twins.

The body offered the then-traditional step-side bed, with distinct fenders as an option. As default, it introduced the first Virgil Exner-inspired "Swept-Line" bed where the bed was the width of the vehicle and the fenders were inboard, as can be seen in virually all modern pickup trucks.

The D Series used the familiar Chrysler Slant 6 engine in displacements of 170 cu in, 198 cu in and 225 cu in as the base models, depending on the year. (The 198 was relatively rare, available as the base engine only from 1969 to 1973). All of Chrysler's larger engines, with the notable exception of the Chrysler Hemi engine were available as factory options.

Another innovation was the introduction of an alternator rather than a generator for electrical power. A three-speed automatic transmission was a major advance - the truck used a two-speed automatic less than a decade earlier.

Yet another innovation, a "Crew Cab" (four-door) body style was introduced in 1963, a first for a factory pickup. Prior crew cabs were custom conversion jobs. A "Club Cab" was also available for 1973, providing transverse seating for either a single third passenger or two small third and fourth passengers (most often, the Club Cab was used as extra cargo space).

Custom Sports Special and High Performance Package

1964 saw the introduction of the sporty Custom Sports Special. The Custom Sports Special included bucket seats, console, carpeting and racing stripes. The optional High Performance Package could be ordered with a CSS truck or by itself on a base model truck complete with Chrysler's big 426 cu in wedge-head V8. This engine produced 365 hp (272 kW) and 470 lb·ft (637 Nm) - in-line with the muscle car revolution that was then sweeping Detroit. The High Performance Package also included the LoadFlite automatic transmission, a 6000 rpm-rated Sun tachometer with heavy duty gauges, power steering, dual exhaust and rear axle torque rods (traction bars) sourced from 1961 Imperials. Custom Sports Special trucks were produced from 1964 through 1967. The High Performance Package was only offered from 1964 through early 1966.


Second generation
1971 Dodge 100
Engine(s)170 cu in Slant-6 I6
225 cu in Slant-6 I6
318 cu in A V8
273 cu in LA V8
383 cu in RB V8, 258 hp (192 kW) and 375 lb·ft (508 Nm) gross
318 cu in LA V8, 160 hp (119 kW)
Transmission(s)3-speed dash mounted or column mounted lever shifted automatic

The D Series was redesigned for 1965. Big news was a wider tailgate and the replacement of the A series engines with the updated LA series. In 1967 the D Series trucks received big-block 383 2 barrel engines as a standard option.


The 1968 models received a new front grille — two rows of four holes each. A new Adventurer trim package replaced the old Custom Sports Special; basically, it included a padded front seat with vinyl trim (either full bench or buckets with console) and carpeting, plus other hallmarks such as extra chrome trim and courtesy lighting.

By 1970, the Adventurer would be expanded into three separate packages: the base Adventurer, the Adventurer Sport and the top-line Adventurer SE. The Adventurer SE included such things as a chrome grille, wood trim on the dashboard, the padded vinyl front seat with color-keyed seatbelts, full courtesy lighting, extra insulation, dual horns, full carpeting, luxury door panel trim, a vinyl-embossed trim strip ran along the sides of the truck, full wheel discs and a woodgrain-insert panel on the tailgate. The 1970 models also featured a new four-section grille (two rows of two holes each).

'The Dude'

In August 1969 the "Dude Sport Trim Package" was released. This was essentially the D100 already in production, with an added black or white body-side ‘C’ stripe decal; a Dodge Dude decal on the box at the rear marker lamps; tail lamp bezel trim; and dog dish hub caps with trim rings. The Dude's tailgate was unique, featuring a Dodge decal on a flat tailgate surface, without the typical tailgate’s embossed logo. The Dudes were only offered in the 1970 and 1971 model years and only 1500 to 2000 Dudes were produced. [1][2]


Third generation
Dodge Custom 100
Engine(s)170 cu in Slant-6 I6
225 cu in Slant-6 I6
383 cu in RB V8, 258 hp (192 kW) and 375 lb·ft (508 Nm) gross
360 cu in LA V8, 180 hp (134 kW) net
400 cu in RB V8, 200 hp (149 kW) net
440 cu in RB V8, 235 hp (175 kW) net
243 cu in 6dr50A I6 Diesel 105 hp net
Transmission(s)3-speed column shifted Automatic transmission

A redesign of the D Series for 1972 that lasted till 1980; introduced a more rounded look (similar to the 1973 to 1987 GM C/K series). This redesign for the third generation, that spanned till 1993 with minor incarnations, included new features such as an independent front suspension and pocketed taillights (the distinctive reverse on top lights were recessed to 1/4 in to avoid damage in loading docks and confined spaces). Styling cues, such as the scalloped hood and rounded fenderwells, were similar to the rounded, smooth look of the 1971 Plymouth Satellite. These trucks were built with a lot of galvanized steel to resist rust and corrosion making them very durable. Because of this, today these trucks make great restoration projects.

1972 also saw the introduction of the 440 cu in engine as a standard option for the light trucks.

The 1972 D Series was made famous in the television show, Emergency!, where it was the featured paramedic rescue squad vehicle for the entire seven seasons of the popular show.

'78 Li'l Red Express Truck

Notable models produced during this era were the 1978 to 1979 Li'l Red Express, the Warlock, the Macho Power Wagon and the Adventurer (Note: All Li'l Red Express Trucks were Adventurers, though not vice versa). Another rare model is the 1978 Midnite Express. This truck was equipped exactly like a Li'l Red Express. The only difference was that the Midnite Express was painted black instead of red. It had the same engine, exhaust stacks, wheels, and gold pinstriping as the Li'l Red and said "Midnite Express" on the door. It was available for the 1978 model year only. All of these trucks were considered "lifestyle" pickups and were marketed to an audience that wanted specialty, personal use trucks. Dodge also saw a need in the market for a "Club Cab" pickup and released an extended cab version of the D Series with extra space behind the front seat while still having two doors on the cab - not to be confused with the much larger "Crew Cab" that had four doors.

The 1978 saw also the introduction of the first Diesel powered Dodge pickup truck. Available as an economy choice in the light duty trucks was Mitsubishi 6dr50A 4,0-liter inline 6-cylinder naturally aspirating diesel, rated at 105hp @ 3500 rpm, and ~230 Nm (~169 lb·ft) @ 2200 rpm. The diesel used standard Dodge manual and automatic transmissions via specially made adapter plate which had the LA V8 bolt pattern. This rare factory option, VIN code H, was the result of fuel crisis and the collaboration of Chrysler and Mitsubishi. The engine, while being trustworthy and having far better economy than any other engine in the Dodge lineup at the time, suffered from its low power output and was considered to be underpowered by American standards, even though it was previously used in the Japanese 3.5-ton cab-over Mitsubishi T44 Jupiter Truck and in industrial applications. Because of the low sales it was phased out quickly and as a result it became practically a single year specialty.

Thousands of D Series trucks entered military service as the M880 series CUCV as part of the government bailout of Chrysler.


'83 Dodge D150 shortbed

This final generation was facelifted in 1981 when the D Series was rebadged as the Dodge Ram pickup around when Lee Iaccoca took charge of the ailing Chrysler Corporation. Such things including an embossed "DODGE RAM" name on the tailgate along with other obvious changes like the grille and hood, the taillights, and the entire interior. More subtle was the addition of a "shoulder" line reminiscent of the GM competition. Beginning in 1981, even more corrosion-resistant steel was used in the construction of the trucks. This bodystyle continued until 1993 and needless to say, many of these vehicles are on the road still. Many body panels are interchangeable for all models from 1972 to 1993, so it is not impossible to see a "hybrid" of a 1978 grille mounted with a 1974 hood and a 1991 cab. In most jurisdictions, the year is dictated by the year of the truck's chassis regardless of the body which has been bolted to it. Also kept was the Utiline step-side model that had the same truck bed that dated well into the 1940s. This was dropped during in this last era of the W/D Dodge trucks.

Also the same engines from Chrysler were available, albeit, in reduced choices: The late 1950s designed 225 slant-6 :now with a hydraulic valve train along with the venerable 318 and 360 smallblock LA-series V8s. The relatively ancient, but extremely dependable, slant-6 soldiered on until 1987 when it replaced by the 3.9L Magnum V6 and the V8s became Magnum engines. Also the sturdy Cummins B Series engine (6BT 5.9 L / Cummins "12-Valve" ) with its 150 lb. seven main bearing forged crankshaft, became an option near at the last years of the W/D-series era offering more torque for those who desired and needed it. This started the era where the big three Detroit automakers started offering a diesel engine with trucks beyond the half-ton rating.

Sales were good during the Swept-Line era and into the late 1970s. A combination of tried-and-true but tired styling that was nearly two decades old (1972-1993) plus brand loyalty (primarily Chevrolet and Ford) during the 1980s and 1990s reduced sales volume for the first generation Dodge Ram. A massive and much needed redesign and restyle was adopted for the 1994 model year.


  • 1961-1969 170 cu in Slant-6 I6
  • 1961-1987 225 cu in Slant-6 I6
  • 1961-1966 Polysphere 318 cu in A V8
  • 1964 426 cu in RB V8, 365 hp (272 kW) and 470 lb·ft (637 Nm) gross
  • 1965 273 cu in LA V8
  • 1967-1979 383 cu in RB V8, 258 hp (192 kW) and 375 lb·ft (508 Nm) gross
  • 1967 318 cu in LA V8, 160 hp (119 kW)
  • 1972 360 cu in LA V8, 180 hp (134 kW) net
  • 1972-1979 400 cu in RB V8, 200 hp (149 kW) net
  • 1974-1979 440 cu in RB V8, 235 hp (175 kW) net
  • 1978-1979 Mitsubishi 6dr50A 4.0-liter I6 naturally aspirated diesel,105hp @ 3500 rpm, and 169 lb·ft (230 N·m) of torque @ 2200 rpm
  • 1989-1993 359 cu in / 5.9L Cummins B Series engine I6, 160 hp (119 kW) and 400 lb·ft (542 N·m) of torque

In Brazil, it was marketed just with the 318 cu in V8

External links