It’s no secret that these days, many classic Mopars have become financially out of reach for most, especially young enthusiasts looking to get into the hobby. With record breaking Mopar sales being circulated through the hobby on a daily basis, it can be pretty deterring for folks dreaming of buying one. While many B-Bodies and E-Bodies have become relatively unaffordable, quite a few A-Bodies along with 1972 and up B & E-Bodies still remain somewhat affordable to the average enthusiast. However, even those are climbing in price.
For those wanting to get into the Mopar hobby but have a smaller budget, one of the best bang for your buck entry level Mopars are the mid-to-late 1970s pickups. With plenty of trucks to be found and a massive aftermarket parts offering for them, you just can’t go wrong. Quite often, you can drive down a country road and find a number of them sitting waiting to be rescued.
Jeremy Macdonald of Utah picked up his 1978 Dodge D150 Adventurer that he has lovingly named “Gramps” out of a farmer’s field for just $350. He tells us, “It was a former Utah State fleet two-wheel-drive truck with a 318 4-speed under the hood. It was really cool just being a State fleet truck let alone the fact it was a 4-speed.” Once getting it home, Jeremy went over the truck, invested about $300 into the drivetrain and installed a set of white spoke wheels that he already had with some Cooper Cobra tires.
“It didn’t take much work to get it on the road. Shortly after, I was driving it daily on my 100 mile round trip commute to work and back. I really enjoyed driving the truck and found that it actually handled very well around corners,” he shares.
After about two years of commuting with it, Jeremy found that the 318 was getting a bit tired and showing its age so he decided to do a few upgrades. Out came the 318 and in went a 1972 model year 360 small block with a few upgrades including a ThermoQuad carburetor built by Ken Manley, Edelbrock Performer intake manifold, Accel ignition coil, Accel spark plug wires, Mopar orange ignition box, Hedman Headers and vintage Moroso valve covers.
Up front, the front suspension was totally rebuilt with a PST front end rebuild kit and out back; Jeremy installed a $75 Sure Grip unit into the rear differential. To change up the look, he pulled off the white spoke wheels and installed a set of period-correct Cragar SST wheels. To keep it even more period-correct on the inside, he installed an OEM Tuff steering wheel, Hurst T-shifter handle, vintage Clarion AM/FM cassette tape deck and a Dixco tachometer. He also installed an extremely hard to find set of ’80s vintage rear window louvers from a local guy in Utah.
He shares, “I have done the majority of the work myself with a friend or two and all of the work has been done outside for the most part; with the exception of the rear end and exhaust work that was done at Hawkers A1 in Logan, Utah. This truck honestly amazes me with how well it drives, even looking old and rough as it does. I’ve put over 15,000 miles on it already this year! It’s a blast to drive and does great burnouts!”
“With the mild 360 under the hood, it has plenty of power for street use and is still very drivable. I even drive the truck daily during the winter. I am into this truck as you see it for less than $4,000 out of pocket. That’s part of what make these trucks so cool. You can build them cheap and parts are relatively easy to find. If your patient, you can even purchase a running/driving truck for less than $1,500. If you want to get into a cool old Mopar cheap, these trucks are definitely a great way to go!”