(Photos by Dave Nutting) – As sure as I am sitting here typing this, I can say that Jim Dayotas’s 1978 Dodge W100 Power Wagon truck is one of the coolest vehicles we have ever featured on BangShift. This truck is a 90,000 mile survivor that has 95% of its original paint, the original engine, transmission, transfer case, axles, wheels, and interior. Outside of some small bits and touchups, this truck is just as it was when it rolled out the back door of a factory in 1978. Jim is technically the second owner of the truck and it is one of a fleet of orange Chrysler products that he owns. Being that this is winter, we didn’t think that his 8-second 1968 Dart, blown street going 1970 Dart, 2WD 1970 Sweptline truck, or in progress 1934 Plymouth hot rod was right to cruise around and shoot photos of. More on those this spring, but today’s star of the show is this completely awesome truck.
For starters, I am of the belief that in the face of everything else, Detroit has never really screwed up on trucks. Yes, this thing has a 440 that makes 180hp, doesn’t get much for mileage, but the reality is that the Omaha Orange Dodge runs like a top, clawed its way though the snow and ice when we shot the photos of it, and looks 1000% cooler than anything being barfed out of a factory today. Even in the darkest hours of America’s car companies, their trucks have been the best. In 1978, Chrysler was in decline and it would become a terminal situation in the early 1980s when Lee Iacocca came in an riled the joint up, cranked out K-cars, and got the balance sheet right. That’s a history lesson for another day. Today, all eyes on that bitchin’ orange machine over there on the left.
From the chrome bumpers, to the tape stripe, to the graphics on the tail gate, this was an image machine if there ever was one. The Power Wagon name did, and still does carry a lot of weight with it. Dodge is still producing a gnarly pickup with that nomenclature attached to it. This truck may seem quaint in comparison but for its time, it was a pretty bad ass piece. It was the last year that a 440ci engine could be optioned and this truck has it. The front axle is a Dana 44 and the rear is a 9.25 unit. The transmission is a 727 Torqueflite and the transfer case is a “full time” New Process 203. Those axles have 3.55 gears in them, which is taller than most of these trucks were optioned with, so it is a little better on fuel than it would be with a 4.10 but perhaps a bit more pokey in all out acceleration.
The suspension under truck is as timeless and basic as it is effective. Leaf springs all around. We shot this feature in a gravel/sand pit that we ummmm….got access to. In the course of shooting it we bounced around various parts of the place, climbed hills, and gave the truck a good work out. Jim even cut some donuts for us to get some action photos. The machine never once whimpered or let us down.
I think the reason I am so in love with the thing stems from my own time as a kid. I learned to read on Peterson’s 4-Wheel and Off Road magazine and back in the early 1980s rigs like this filled the pages. Bright colors, white steel spoked wheels (which in this truck’s case were factory installed), big block engines, and flying dirt were all the things that spun my crank as a little guy. The first time I saw Jim’s truck I knew that we had to have it here on the electronic pages of BangShift. You have to admits that the truck is as right as rain. Proportionally it is 100% dead-nuts, spot on perfect. The larger than stock tires fill the wheel wells completely, the fact that it is a short bed is the icing on the cake.
This truck has a great story and we’re going to tell it below through Dave Nutting’s stunning photos and the captions we have attached to them. I just cannot stop staring at this damned thing!
CONTINUE WITH PHOTOS AND CAPTIONS FOR THE REST OF THE STORY!