*This story is still actively being added to as of July ’21*
After I sold my ’70 D300 in ’18 I decided to wait and patiently hunt my next project. On the fence for another truck or a Mopar muscle car. July 2019, I got home one afternoon and starting looking at a few Facebook pages to see what had popped up when I saw the add for this ’70 D200 Crewcab with an 8′ Utiline Bed. My first thought was, well that’s definitely different. I decided to give Robert, the seller a call and get some more information on it. He described it as a running, rust free truck with the worst part being the right rear door. We discussed the price, he sent some more pictures and a video the next day and by the following evening we had a deal. I lined up with a broker to get transport for it and almost a month later while I was out of town for work, I got a call at lunch saying the hauler was on the way to pick it up. The following Saturday afternoon it arrived not to disappoint. The driver lost count of the number of people coming up to him when stopped wanting to buy the truck off of him!
So Robert who I purchased it off of in Nebraska, picked it up out of Wyoming from another guy who got it from a salvage yard (it went through a few quick flips). The truck along with other vehicles from the original families property were purchased when I’m guessing they decided to clean up. Unfortunately the original right rear door was damaged in the salvage yard worse then the door they swapped it out with. The truck had just shy of 75,000 miles on when I picked it up. It’s believed the truck was special ordered in this configuration and retrofitted with two additional fuel tanks under the cab before leaving Detroit. I’m understanding it either had a camper in the rear of the bed or pulled a camper a lot.
Truck specs: 383/3 speed auto. Factory options include A/C, Radio, PS, PB, polished aluminum grille, door panel trim, and west coast painted mirrors.
Once the truck arrived, the first step was to assess what I was working with, determine what direction I wanted to go in and what parts I needed. Fortunately there are more parts being reproduced today then while I was restoring my D300 between ’04-09 but at the same time the demand for these trucks has gone off and with that, the price for both NOS, used and reproduction parts has followed.
The first item on the agenda was a tune-up and to get the truck driving safely on the road.
Once I went through the mechanicals, I started inspecting the wiring. Just as you would see with any almost 50 year old truck, there were a few splices of wiring but surprisingly the overall harness was in great shape. A couple of corrections under the dash, hood and frame and I was good to go. While I was finishing that up, some other items were getting put on. A new set of Mickey Thompson Wheels and new rubber were put on. I had a grille repolished and found a good front bumper to get chromed and chrome a Utiline bumper Dad had for the rear. New reproduction antenna and side marker lights from AMS Obsolete along with a set of reproduction mirror arms from Vans Auto and the truck started looking a bit different.
The transmission had a leak so off to a local shop. After an inspection they determined the transmission was solid and just needed a quick reseal. After that, I got by the exhaust shop for a new exhaust setup front to rear and muffler to clean that up.
Over the winter from ’19 to ’20 I had the dashed pulled, gutted the a/c system and started the rebuild. The dash was off to the painters and the new parts from Classic Auto Air started arriving while I sent the parts for refurb off to them. It took some time but by spring the a/c system was back together, dash in and truck up and running.
By summer ’20 the front clip was off with the core support, fenders and inner fenders getting blasted, primed and painted. Took the opportunity to really clean under the hood, complete final engine detailing and parts replacement and get ready for sheetmetal reinstallation. The firewall paint is original and still in good shape. I’ve compounded and polished by hand and it will be left as is when the remainder of the truck is painted. Original paint color is Mojave Yellow, which was discontinued after Jan ’70 by the paint chip data, so this truck just made it in the window to get the color.
So as of mid 2021, the truck is idle as far as the restoration. I purchased an aluminum bed flooring with printed wood graphics from Smokey Road Rod Shop that I’m hoping to install here in the next few months as a pre-fit and by Spring of 2022 the goal is to finally get the bed stripped apart for body work and paint and finish up the cab interior/exterior paint.
Every time I take it out it get’s its fair share of thumbs up or hold on a minute, I got to check that out.
It’s been over 45 years since Dodge quit production of the big trucks. Over the years, un-restorable trucks have been parted out for good parts for stock and new restorations. Parts sources have been scoured from the east coast to the west coast, parts hoards of NOS sheetmetal and various parts have been located and purchased.
With this, many visitor’s over the years to the site have been able to purchase parts to aid in their restoration. As I mentioned to start, it’s been over 45 years and these parts cache’s have thinned out. New parts aren’t being made for the C-series, the L-series or the Bighorns. The D-series has options with the increase in popularity of the pickups but original items are becoming more difficult to locate.
Tony has good used fenders, quarter fenders, hoods and misc other parts remaining for the C-series trucks. Over the next 6-12 months he’s going to be looking to sell off a majority of what’s left, so if you have particular parts you may be in need of, now is the time. Let us know what you are looking for and if it’s available, he’ll work to give you a great deal. For small easily boxable items, shipping can be available at an additional charge. Any sheetmetal will be required to pickup. firstname.lastname@example.org
Written by: Tony Youngblood / Edited by: Marlayna Gause
Note: In 2012 the truck was sold, this article was written prior to that.
They call me MrBighorn. I guess you could say I’ve earned it though. I’ve owned more Bighorns than any individual that I know of. I’ve probably had the chance to sit in and drive more of these trucks than anyone else out there. I’ve also reproduced rare, new parts for the precious few Bighorns that are left. Chrysler has come to me for new doors and a cab for the short nose Bighorn that they are in the process of restoring.
I have ten Bighorn rams heads and all the literature, posters, watch fobs, belt buckles that can possibly be found. Four photo albums hold nearly 800 pictures out of the 261 produced, I have pictures of at least 130 of the original trucks.
I’ve been fortunate over the years, of that I have no doubt. With only an estimated 90 Bighorns left in existence, most of which rest in the hands of collectors, I have personally bought and sold a total of 17. My luck began in 1989 when I bought my first Bighorn, a 1975 Custom Cab. After seven years of restoration that started from the ground up, it made its first show debut in 1997 at the annual American Truck Historical Society show, held that year in Greensboro, NC.
I chose to keep the next Bighorn that came my way in 2002. It appeared that it was to be another expensive restoration, but one that I saw as being worth it: this was one of the most rare trucks ever built in the history of automobiles. To own one Bighorn is a privilege, but to own two would be very special indeed. This second Bighorn that I choose to keep was also a Custom Cab with a factory 235 wheelbase. Parked in the early 80’s by its original owner, the truck was very intact: it possessed only 186,000 actual miles.
I held onto the truck for a little while, but after considering the cost of restoration and time that would be lost with my family, I decided to sell it. Today it resides in North Dakota with Matt Swenson where it is also being rebuilt from the ground up. When I sold this Bighorn to Matt Swenson in 2003 I knew that the chances of ending up with another one for my collection were not particularly favorable. With so few left in existence, their prices have grown and very few are reasonable nowadays. When I finished my own 1975 Bighorn in 1997, it had to be appraised for insurance reasons. The estimated value came to $95,000—not bad for a truck that cost $31,000 in 1975 and came with a $5,000 rebate. The original owner of my first Bighorn ended up with a loaded truck for only $26,000. Some may wonder why I sold the other Bighorns that fell into my possession since they are so rare, but any collector who restores and plays with big trucks can understand: it takes money and time, and it is most certainly not a cheap hobby. My wife has said many times that she wishes I could find a less expensive one, such as the kind that comes in a box and is assembled with glue. Sorry dear, no such luck.
Now, go back to the year 2000. I am at the ATHS show in Valley Forge, PA where I run into a good friend, David Thompson, also known as Truckin’ Little for the miniature truck models that he builds. David has owned two Bighorns himself, but has since sold them off.
The first thing that came out of David’s mouth when we met that day was a declaration: he had heard of a rumor that stated the number one Bighorn was still in existence and was sitting in a barn somewhere in Minnesota. I told him to let me know if he found anything out.
Years passed without any new information. February of 2004 rolled around. I was standing in my yard, staring at one of my trucks when my cell phone began to ring. On the phone was a man that claimed to have “Number One” in his possession. Like most muscle car experts, I thankfully knew enough about my subject of interest and “Number One” in general to quiz him about it. Every question that I asked brought back a correct answer. The man said he and his father had been rebuilding the truck when, during the process, his father passed away. The truck had been parked since that sad day in 1984, but in actuality, this was probably a blessing in disguise that somehow saved the truck from an unknown fate. The man told me he had to finish putting some items on the truck and then it would be ready for shipping. The price was settled on that same month. He was to call me when it was ready—because he trucked for a living, free time was short.
The rest of 2004 went by and I pretty much forgot about the truck until March of 2005 when again I received a phone call. The price had changed, but I felt that this truck was worth every penny.
There was more history behind this Bighorn than any other Mopar car or truck to have left the factory. It had been a big gamble for Chrysler to slip their feet into a big truck market previously dominated by Kenworth’s and Peterbilt’s back in 1973. There had been one problem, however. Some big Dodge dealers, such as Ivy Truck Sales in Athens, GA—the largest Dodge dealer in the US at that time—knew that the heavy truck division was coming to an end for this particular breed. From the very beginning, Mr. Ivy, who sat on the board of directors at Chrysler, stated that he would not sell a truck that he could not provide parts and service for. I knew Mr. Ivy personally and he always stood 110% behind his customers.
In April of 2005 I met a transporter at a local truck stop. On the back of his rig rested “Number One.” Just as every Bighorn is prone to do, it drew attention from its starting point, Minnesota, to its destination, Georgia. The trucker told me that the C.B. never shut up. If you ever find yourself in the position to transport a Bighorn, you will discover how true this is: the Bighorn draws more attention than any other truck out there, past or present. There have been times when I have stopped at rest stops and come out to find a swarm of curious onlookers surrounding my rig. Half an hour of answering questions is not an unusual thing. Upon meeting, the trucker and I arranged for him to follow me to my job, where the truck would be unloaded and then reloaded onto my rig, after which it would be taken home and placed in my butler building. Here it would familiarize itself with all of its Dodge brothers that reside in my collection.
The first thing I noticed as the trucker backed up to unload, however, was that the rear ends were air ride. I began to worry that someone had butchered the “Number One” and that the value would be way off. To understand my concern, one must know a few details about the truck.
Stated simply, “Number One” is indeed, number one. It is the prototype of the Bighorns and it is completely different from any of its brothers and sisters. This truck is a 9500 Bighorn according to its emblem, all others are 950. It seems Chrysler couldn’t make up their mind as to what to call it, so they started a system: tandem axles were DNT1000; single axles were DN1000. Another mind change later labeled the tandem axle as CNT950 and the single axle as CN950, for which only nine were produced. And then there are the frame rails. The prototype was the only Bighorn to receive aluminum frame rails. While the option was to be available in late fall of 1975, it never made it to that point: the Dodge Heavy-Duty line was dropped in the spring of that same year.
Research revealed that the frame rails came from the supplier that Kenworth and Peterbilt used. I learned from one ex-CEO of Kenworth, John Bodden, that the CEO before him left due to an argument and later became the head of the Bighorn program. John and I came to the conclusion that the former CEO must have “borrowed” a set of rails from the Kenworth and Peterbilt supplier—to put it nicely. Since that conversation, I have purchased a new set for the “Number One” from Cherokee Kenworth in Columbia, SC. It took 20 weeks of waiting for them to be specially built, but they’re here now. The frame rails that originally came with the truck were salt damaged and sported excess holes from useless drilling. As Bighorns were hand-built, I know that no holes were usually drilled unless they were going to be used.
My original shock from the air ride stemmed from knowledge imported from the original spec sheets that listed all of the options. I knew that an air ride suspension was offered by the name of Western Stabilaire, but research in this area turned up no such company; none of the Bighorns that I had ever seen had possessed this suspension. Closer inspection of “Number One” revealed a large brass tag on the rear bar between the bags. It read Western Stabilaire and listed the specs. I teamed up with a good friend from the ATHS headquarters, Bill Johnson, and learned that Western Stabilaire had been bought out by Peterbilt and sold to Freightliner to become their four bad air ride. A little personal research in a Euclid book on truck suspensions that I own turned up the missing link. There it was, in the section devoted to Freightliner air ride. So far, I’ve been fortunate enough to get all of the other parts that I need new, all the way down to the springs.
The vast amount of differences between the prototype and all other Bighorns are astounding. Thus far I’ve identified these contrasting characteristics: 9500 emblems, aluminum frame rails, altered ram’s head, variations of the hood latches, grab handles, exhaust shields, sill plates, fuel tanks, and mounting brackets; a unique steering shaft, rear suspension, and fan shroud; and a one-of-a-kind rear cab support and wiring job. Due to the fact that this truck toured for the first year of its life, it has chrome plated seat frames, air tanks, luberfiner, and exhaust elbows. Its battery box covers, bumper, exhaust shields, and grab handles were all polished; the front wheels are polished lock rim Alcoa’s. And that’s just what I’ve found so far! I still have to finish getting the truck torn down! Just like the factory, I’ll start with bare frame rails and build from the ground up. Everything all the way down to the grease fittings will be new or rebuilt, and when everything is said and done, it will look just as it did on day one in the infamous, introductory Dodge Bighorn literature. A list of the available options for the Custom Cab can be seen in the accompanying chart. (see Bighorn page for information)
I already knew that the original owner of “Number One” had been Jim Roop, but I learned a few more things from the man I bought it from, Marlin Martin. Apparently, after delivery of the truck, the Spicer had a vibration. The Dodge dealer that it was bought from offered to put either a new one on it or whatever else Mr. Roop so desired. He elected to get a Fuller in the long run. Also, the prototype originally possessed a Mercury sleeper and a full set of fenders over the tandems, but Jim Roop pulled for Bekins Van Lines and they had to be replaced by quarter-fenders for clearance of the van trailers. At one point in time, it as even painted solid white for company policy.
“Number One” was used for pictures in all of the Dodge Bighorn literature, both US and Canadian, and in magazines such as Overdrive, Open Road, and Go West. It was utilized in all of the tests and truck shows.
These days it sits in my building, waiting for the day when it will once more meet the crowds and represent a truck whose beauty and superior quality have allowed it to run not only with the trucks of its time, but of today’s generation as well. I’ve driven other brands, such as Macks, Petes, and even the W900 Kenworth that I currently use for work. They all claim to be the best in the world; but to me, the difference is like night and day. The Bighorn handles with ease; its quiet cab is like no other, and though it may be 30 years old, it is still a truck that was ahead of its time. Built with all the quality of a Kenworth or Peterbilt, using the same options, it was a truck that could have gone a long way had it not been for company complications. Finally, collectors of other truck brands are realizing the collectable nature and value of the Dodge Bighorn. However, with only 90 or so left in existence and a steady increase in their prices, fewer collectors are finding themselves lucky enough to own one of these beauties.
“Number One” will someday ride proud again; only time will tell what the value of these trucks will rise to be.
Never in my life would I have dreamed that I would end up owning “Number One,” especially at the naive age of 13 when my local Dodge dealer sent literature on this gold beauty and I first laid eyes on it. I have been lucky, I have been fortunate, and I have felt the Good Man Upstairs smiling down on me. I have done a lot for this rare breed of truck, and I’ve enjoyed every minute. Maybe one day, with a little more help, it will finally get the extensive recognition that it truly deserves.
To see restoration on this truck and others in my collection, please continue to follow this magazine. You can also go my son’s website at www.OldDodges.com to see more. Hopefully, the pictures provided with this article have given you a little more history and insight on “Number One,” the most famous Bighorn of all.
Note: This story was partially published in Wheels of Times (mid 90’s) and later fully published in Old Time Trucks (’04).
The first two Bighorns were 9500’s. They were prototypes. I don’t think Chrysler could make it’s mind up on what to call the truck, either by name or number. The parts book lists the Bighorn as a DNT 1000 for the tandem axle and DN for the single axle, but behind that it is also listed as CNT950 and CN950.
Basically there were two styles of Bighorns built. The top of the line was the Custom Cab Bighorn consisting of the following options:
13 Speed Fuller or 16 Speed Spicer. The 16 Speed Spicer had a chrome tower that covered the gear shaft lever and air lines.
12,000 front axle, some with front brakes, which my truck (Tony Youngblood) has. This is very rare. Most are 38,000 rears being Reyco 101 on the ’73 and ’74 models with inboard brake drums , and Reyco 102 on the ’75 models with outboard brake drums.
Other options to keep the weight down were aluminum crossmembers, rear skid and intermediate, front bumper, hubs front and rear, differential carries, battery boxes, centerfuse drums, aluminum cab supports (which I found was only on the ’73 models,) fuel tanks, and a transmission case on Spicer transmissions. Also, the rear wheels were lightweight hi-tensile steel wheels, while the front wheels were lock rim style aluminum wheels. In these areas Dodge was trying to watch the weight of the truck.
Today’s truckers would scream bloody murder if they knew that the hood ornament alone weighed 14 pounds, but Dodge also was working on that problem. The 14 pound original Ram on the long nose was being replaced from stainless steel to a 2 pound aluminum ram. There was also a slight difference in the design of some of the Ram’s heads. I have five ram’s heads and two are different. One is chrome instead of stainless. I know this is original because I bought it from Chrysler.
The nice Bighorn also came with a 1500 Cubic inch radiator, which is one of the biggest if not the biggest radiator ever put in an over the road truck. In front of it were Kysor shutters. The shutters were built to remain open if the truck had air conditioning and it was on.
The 13 speed Fuller was usually a RTO 9513 with Rockwell SQHD rears and a 4.44 ratio. These options were offered by Dodge, but you could get a number of rear axle ratings. The ratings range from 34,000 to 44,000 with a 140,000 turnpike rating. Any ratio’s were offered with the ratings.
The front axle was mostly FF921 on 12,000 and FG on the 16,000 pounds. Shocks were also offered on the custom cab with an air suspension Western Stabilizer on the rear.
Frames were offered at any wheel base and were of heat treated Hi-Tensile Steel- 110,000 PSI on the 10 1/8 X 3 1/4 X 1/4. A 5/16″ thick frame rail was optional. There were 1810 series propeller shafts on most of the trucks I have seen.
Exhaust systems on most Bighorns consisted of a 5″ chrome elbow starting under the vertical muffler curving around and under the rear of the cab where they connected to a flex pipe and then a solid pipe joining the turbo. The muffler was held at the top rear corner of the cab by and aluminum bracket. The lucky Bighorn owners with dual exhaust systems had a better balanced looking truck, making the cab look bigger behind the massive hood. Otherwise without the mufflers and shields the cab looked like an after thought, which was small for the hood.
Fuel tanks on the Bighorn came in 75 and 100 gallon tanks. On the ’73 and some early ’74 Bighorns, the aluminum fuel tank had a very wide step built in making it easier to get in and out of the cab. Also, the tank was made out of better shined aluminum. They narrowed the step half the width for the rest of the ’74 and ’75 Bighorns, making access a little harder and the aluminum was not as good a grade. I’ve seen one Bighorn with original 100 gallon factory fuel tanks, which are very rare. This truck is owned by Tom Corigliano. The tanks were produced by Synder Tanks.
The steering on the Bighorn came two ways. Power steering was a Ross HF-64 Box. The manual steering was a Ross 7D500. The steering wheel in the custom cab consisted of a white 20 inch wheel with the Dodge logo in the horn button. The logo was a yellowish gold color on a white background. This was the only truck ever built by Dodge with the horn button that color. The electric sea shell horns were mounted on the top left corner of the radiator. The high note or low note were not much use unless the truck was not running, but the dual Grover horns made up the difference. Also the steering column was neatly designed with an adjustment on the left side. The column had a custom suede jacket to surround it, hiding the steering shaft and turn signal wires. It looked very neat and high class. Being able to drop the steering column all the way down was also nice.
With this all the way down, the driver was able to pull four screws and lay the complete dash over. The piano hinge system made the back of all the instruments and air valves available. Certified Cummins mechanics and other dealers have said that it was one of the best dash arrangements they have ever seen. There was also a wiring diagram on the back of the glove box that became visible when the dash laid over. There were plenty of gauges in the dash. They were all built by Stewart and Warner and are waterproof bi-torque gauges. Everything from voltmeter, engine oil, trans. oil, axle oil, exhaust pyrometer oil pressure, dual air, amps, fuel and water. The early speed and tachometer had the Chrysler Penstar in the center or the high beam light (in the center). A few came with electric tachometers and speedometers, but there was a lot of trouble with them.
The inside of the Custom Cab Dodge was clean and its systems were close at hand. The seats were any type offered by Bostrom with a Bostrom Viking companion seat. They were pleated and matched the color of the vinyl trim on the door, roof inserts (also pleated), back panel and the console between the two seats. The inside door grab handles were polished aluminum with a square shape. On the 1975 Bighorn the outside grab handle matched the inside grab handle. On the ’73 and ’74 they were round chrome handles on the outside which made the ’75 easier to spot. In the ceiling was a housing storing either AM or AM/FM stereo. The speakers were in the back corner of the cab, just about head level. The glass was tinted all around which along with the integral air conditioning system helped keep the cab cool. The air conditioning used the same housing in the cab as the heater. The evaporator fit in with the heater radiator. The condenser was in front of the shutters. The compressor was a York or Tec with a 3 speed switch.
Outside the cab was all class. This was the best looking and smartest designed trucks ever to hit the road. There were chrome Signal Stat bullet lights on top. An aluminum front bumper had Perlux road lamps, dual horns, stainless steel exhaust shields and a choice of cab, hood and frame color made for quite a site. Choice of four striping combinations were also available.
Polished Aluminum: Front Bumper, Front Wheels, Batter Box Covers (early models only)
Polished Stainless Steel: Muffler Shields, Mirrors, Front Grille and Vertical bars
Chrome: Bullet Lights, Horns, Fuel tank straps
For some reason the American Bighorn came with Aluminum Front Wheels and either Reyco or Hendrickson steel buds on the rear. In Canada most Bighorns came with spoke wheels, those on the rear being Hendrickson.
The type of air lines were Aeroquip re-usable fitting with Parker-Hannefin flex-lines. Nylon lines inside of cab and in instrument panel were color coded and easy to trace.
Crossmembers were original style Dodge used in C-cabs and Cabovers with extra strength. Instead of a single crossmember in place, they took 2 and bolted them back to back with 8 bolts, hardened washers and aircraft type self locking nuts.
Filters were Air-Donaldson Cycolpak 16′ oil full flow 4 qt. Endline mounted plus bypass Fleetguard 14 qt.
Four 6 Volt
Prestoline 12 Volt
PVC with eyeslot terminals
The cab on the Bighorn most people think is the same as the C-cab, but it it not. Of course the doors are the same, but the firewall is different and braces inside the cab are also different. Two outside panel extensions where the 950 emblem goes, fill the space between the door and hood. Full sprayed-on closed cell foam on firewall toe board and under cab floor help keep out heat and noise. Also closed cell foam sheet between metal and floor mat along toe board and dash. Floor mat had double closed backing insulation. The cab of the Bighorn was produced by Checker Cab Company. The part number is 3731-905 where as the C-cab part number is 3731-904.
Back to the difference between the “Custom Cab” and the “Plain Jane”. The cheap Bighorn (as I call it) basically has a 290 Cummins, 10 speed Fuller, 38,000 rears on Hendrickson and 12,000 front with no brakes. There were no shocks, no aluminum crossmembers, hubs, bumper or any other weight saving items. There were no stainless steel mirrors, polished sill plates, center consoles or pleated panels. They had no power steering and the radiator was of the smaller 1200 cu. in version. Also all wheels were steel not aluminum. There was a Texas oil that had about 18 of them. I know 4 were stripped, John Ernest has 2, Asa Hall has 1, some I have stripped out, and a few still exist.
There were 261 Bighorns produced, and I believe there to be between 70-80 still in existence. Since it was a small scale production and 25 years since Dodge has built a truck the Bighorn has become a widely sought after collectible. They say in the near future a fully restored, or original unrestored Bighorn could bring around $100,000 , which is very possible. Not bad for and old truck!
All past and present Bighorn owners will tell you they think this is the best all around truck produced by anyone. When produced it was so far ahead of its time that is would blend right in with today’s trucks. Chrysler itself was partly to blame for the down fall of the Bighorn. The dealers wouldn’t stock the or service them. The Federal Government developed an anti-skid law that Chrysler couldn’t meet to their specifications. I have been told by a Dodge Dealer owner that as Dodge was introducing the Bighorn to dealer’s in Detroit, word was being spread around that Chrysler was going to end production on all of their Heavy-Duty trucks.
In this post will look at the 1969, 1970-1971, 1972-1973 and 1974-1977 serial # breakdowns. *1969 through 1971 and 1974 to 1977 are completed, 1972 to 1973 will be soon*
1969 consisted of a 10 character serial #.
Model Code – 11
No. of Cylinders – 6
Assembly Plant – 1
Sequence Number 872000
The information below relates to the engine but does not provided data for anything larger than a 1 ton truck:
6 – Denotes six-cylinder engine. This could be a 251 L-head six or a 170,198 or 225 Slant Six. Conventional pickups and A-series compacts came with the Slant Six while the WM-300’s came with the L-head sixes.
8 – Denotes V8 engine. This could be the LA-273, A-318, LA-318 (’67 and up), B-361 or the B-383.
1970 consisted of a 13 character serial #.
Model Code – A1
Body – 3
GVW – A
Engine – A
Model Year – 0
Assembly Plant – U
Sequence Number – 100001
Model Year would be 0 for 1970 or 1 for 1971
1972-1973 consisted of a 13 character serial #.
Model Code – R9
Body – 1
GVW – H
Engine – W
Model Year – 3
Assembly Plant – T
Sequence Number – 000001
Model Year would be 2 for 1972 or 3 for 1973
1974-1977 consisted of a 13 character serial #.
Model Code – R9
Body – 1
GVW – H
Engine – W
Model Year – 5
Assembly Plant – T
Sequence Number – 000001
Model Year would be 4 for 1974, 5 for 1975, 6 for 1976 and 7 for 1977
1974-75 Plant assembly sequential number. All plants will commence model.
1976-77 year production with 000001.
Over the years there were noticeable changes to the Vehicle Identification Plates in the trucks.
1974-1977 Truck Vehicle Plates
From ’72 and up, this sticker became more of a common item found on the trucks. The Equipment Identification Plate. It could have been mounted on the interior of the fenders or interior of the cab door sill area on the larger trucks. It would provide the production items or special equipment codes and description as to how the truck was equipped.
The June ATHS National Convention in Virginia was the first major outing at a show for Tony in over a decade. He drove up in his ’85 Kenworth W900B with the 1973 CNT900 on the trailer. Both trucks were shown and were part of a good grouping of Dodge Bighorns and other Dodge trucks, 3 of which were past Dodge Farm residence. I believe John Kessler may have even setup an autograph session for Tony at one point!
It was the largest gathering of Dodge Bighorns of any show that we know of to date, total of 8. Getting to see several of these allowed for serial number verification and truck history updates. Great show overall!
We had heard over the years that the Shortnose Bighorn from the literature still existed but hadn’t been able to put eyes on it or confirm. (In 1990, Tony located one of the other prototypes and helped a collector in Florida get it.) In 2004, Tony was contacted by Chrysler in need of parts for the Shortnose Bighorn. You just read that right, Chrysler, the manufacturer themselves, needed a source for parts and confirmed the truck was still alive. They were looking to do the restoration themselves on the Shortnose Bighorn, which when Chrysler quit the trucks in 1975, took the truck from the magazine and the literature and put it on the Chelsea proving grounds hauling a trailer. The group at the time knew a little bit about it and it’s prototype status but not much more. Based on that, they decided it was time to save the truck.
In July of 2004, we attended Chrysler at Carlisle where we met several members of the team heading up the restoration project. They purchased doors and some other misc parts and had a good discussion on the truck and that it wasn’t the only one existing. Tony has been told previously 9 prototypes existed originally, but most were damaged/destroyed during the skid pad testing for the new braking system requirements. Not everyday you can sell back parts to the OEM and educate them on their former product!
About a year later, sometime in the summer of 2005 they contacted Tony again and realized the original cab was too far gone to be saved. Too many years of Detroit winters and salt exposure had rotted it out. At the time, Tony was buying and parting trucks out and had a good cab become available. He had some work done to it, blasted and primed and ready for Chrysler. In Jan 2006 they had it picked up and sent north.
Fast forward a few years. Chrysler was going through financial issues thanks to there 51% ownership by Daimler and the restoration was canceled. It was being worked on at a college in Ohio with minimal working having been completed. Tony was contacted and updated as to the situation. In order to sale, they had to put it out for bid. They did in 2009 and was the paperwork was completed, Tony was off to Ohio to get the truck. In the coming years he would begin and complete restoration on it. More on the restoration in another post.
For a brief period of time, the Dodge Farm contained both literature trucks under one roof, 35 years after they were built. What are the odds? While the 9500 restoration hasn’t been completed just yet by the new owner, one of these days when it is, hopefully the stars will align to get these two trucks back together, restored and looking as good if not better as the day they had their photo ops for a long lasting legacy.
In 2000, I purchased this truck from the daughter of the original owner with a whopping 104 ORIGINAL MILES! You read that right, 104 original miles. Let’s backtrack to 1971 briefly. The original owner purchased the truck to use to go fishing in. The 1971 model was the last year of the Sweptline trucks and this particular model was a Sweptline Special. Bare bones, no thrills, no options. It was a cheap truck to compete against Ford and Chevy for a basic work truck.
It was purchased in Sept ’71 at Bitzer Dodge-Chrysler in Collinsville, IL. for $2,332.15. The owner drove it home from the dealership and parked it in the garage with 23 miles on it. Two additional payments were made in Nov and Dec to pay off the truck. Shortly after he purchased it though, he became ill and never got to drive the truck again. For the next 28 years, the truck stayed garage kept and if it was moved from one to the other, it was trailered.
Fast forward to 1999, the daughter inherited the truck and decided it was time to sell. She had it hauled to a local mechanic shop where they replaced the muffler, tires and a few hoses due to dryrot. They got the truck tuned up and ready to go. She proceeded to put additional miles on it in the neighborhood just keeping it active until it was purchased. In early 2000, I found the truck on one of the Dodge Sweptline forums for sale. We came to agreement and Granddad, Dad and myself loaded up and went to St. Louis, MO. Went to bed that night with good weather only to wake up in the hotel the next morning with snow coming down quickly.
We met with the owner, loaded the truck up with 104 miles on the odometer, exchanged paperwork and money and proceeded back through what was the worst winter snowstorm we had ever been in, which much of the interstate in Indiana and Illinois nothing more than a two rut road. Needless to say, if the truck hadn’t experienced snow during it’s previous 29 years of life, it definitely did then.
For the first few years of the truck’s existence in my possession, it did get driven. There were a few truck shows near Columbia, SC that I attended with the truck and a few local as well. After the first few years, it was decided to trailer the truck from then on due to the survivorship of the truck and just trying to prevent anything from happening to it.
Over the years, it ended up in multiple magazines:
Mopar Muscle Magazine
Dodge Truck World Magazine Issue #30
In 2011, I decided to sell the truck. It sold on an ebay auction to a collector in Canada where it resided until 2021. In May, it rolled across the auction block with some of Moe’s other survivor Dodge products for over $30,000. Not bad for a truck that cost just over $2,300 50 years before. If your curious, the truck still had that new truck smell when we picked it up in St. Louis through the day it loaded up on the truck headed to Canada.