Hugh’s Truck: 1991 Dodge Ram 250 Cummins Diesel

This next car come as a seller submission from Hugh, who wants $500 or trade for Miata for his truck: It is time to deaccession this Dalton highway spec Dodge Ram 250 Cummins turbo diesel pickup from the family fleet. My uncle, who crewed on the Garretson Enterprises LeMans ( Paul Newman) and IMSA (1981 24 Hours of Daytona win with Bob Garretson Brian Redman and Bobby Rahal ) teams, drove on the one lap of America a few times, and did the great American cross country race in a Studebaker Indianapolis race car and numerous other auto adventures, bought this for a trip to the Arctic circle because he really liked driving to out of the way places.

Patina not for the faint of heart.

The Dalton highway, to quote a couple of grafs from Wikipedia:“ directly parallels the pipeline, is one of the most isolated roads in the United States. There are only three towns along the route: Coldfoot (pop 10) at Mile 175,[4] Wiseman (pop 22) at Mile 188,[4] and Deadhorse (25 permanent residents, 3,500-5,000 or more seasonal residents depending on oil production) at the end of the highway at Mile 414.[4] Fuel is available at the E. L. Patton Yukon River Bridge (Mile 56), as well as Coldfoot and Deadhorse.[4] Two other settlements, Prospect Creek and Galbraith Lake, are uninhabited except for campers and other short-term residents.

The road itself is mostly gravel, very primitive in places, and small vehicle and motorcycle traffic carries significant risk. The nearest medical facilities are in Fairbanks and Deadhorse. Anyone embarking on a journey on the Dalton is encouraged to bring survival gear. Despite its remoteness, the Dalton Highway carries a good amount of truck traffic through to Prudhoe Bay: about 160 trucks daily in the summer months and 250 trucks daily in the winter.[4] The highway comes to within a few miles of the Arctic Ocean. Beyond the highway’s terminus at Deadhorse are private roads owned by oil companies, which are restricted to authorized vehicles only. There are, however, commercial tours that take people to the Arctic Ocean. All vehicles must take extreme precaution when driving on the road, and drive with headlights on at all times. There are quite a few steep grades (up to 12%) along the route, as well.”

“Truckers on the Dalton have given their own names to its various features, including: Taps, The Shelf, Franklin Bluffs, Oil Spill Hill, Beaver Slide, Surprise Rise, Sand Hill, Ice Cut, Gobbler’s Knob, Finger Mountain, Oh Shit Corner, and the Roller Coaster. The road reaches its highest elevation as it crosses the Brooks Range at Atigun Pass, 4,739 feet (1,444 m).

The highway is the featured road on the third, fourth, fifth and sixth seasons of the History reality television series Ice Road Truckers, which aired May 31, 2009 to present. It is also the subject of the second episode of America’s Toughest Jobs and the first episode of the BBC’s World’s Most Dangerous Roads featuring Charley Boorman and Sue Perkins. Polar bears are known to traverse the Arctic region of Alaska and can be seen wandering the outskirts of Deadhorse at the terminus of the Dalton Highway.”

My uncle had some oil company connections and was able to continue past the end of the highway to Prudhoe bay, because well why not?

I would have washed it but then someone would think that there was some leak that I was hiding so there you have 29 years worth of grime.

So what does a Dalton highway spec pickup have besides the obvious Cummins engine for reliable motoring at 4,739 feet on the “world’s most dangerous highway” (the author has obviously never driven on the Long Island Expressway on a Friday night)?

Radio works!

A ridiculously over-built and high numerical ratio rear axle and a Getrag 5 speed transmission with a parade gear first, stump puller second, I might get a speeding ticket in a school zone third, reasonable speed around town fourth, and fast enough to not get a ticket for driving too slow on the freeway in most states fifth.

Hella headlamps that point down for some reason.  

A really impressively big fuel tank.

Honest to god no messing around truck tires.

After the Dalton highway trip my uncle used the truck as a daily driver, to tow race cars, and improbably enough competing in Porsche Club of America rallies and winning. When my uncle died in 2000 the truck was outfitted with a Timewise rally computer system. In the ensuing 21 years we never figured out how to get the speedometer / odometer reconnected and working but it was really superfluous when my mother was using it as a farm truck towing walnut trailers for a couple of years and then to go to the dump or the steel yard or the galvanizing place for art stuff.

It’s been pretty much parked for the last two years, on account of my mom being 92 and not needing a truck like this. I just drove it about 50 miles to pick up a bandsaw a week ago and it drove quite nicely for being something of a beast.  The brakes were done just before we convinced my mother to stop driving it a couple of years ago and they seem fine although the ABS light stays on. Windows go up and down.

So what’s wrong with this if you want to drive it on normal public roads?

The quality of Mopar paint circa 1990 is laughable. On this truck it mostly is not there at all. I ground out actual holes in the roof near the drip rail over the windshield and patched it with epoxy a few years ago. The tailgate also has holes in it. Heater looks like it has been disconnected. Turn signals seem MIA. Many cracks in the windshield. Tires need to be replaced. If you want to know how slow you are going you would want to do something about the speedometer.

I tried to teach my son to drive in this many years ago, he very slowly in the parade gear drove into an empty canal and when I pulled it out with a caterpillar tractor the side of the bed got a dent. Says AC on the dash but who knows?

What’s cool about this if you want to drive it on normal public roads?

People come up to you and just start talking about Cummins turbo diesel pickups. It’s almost like the people who talk to my sister about her 1967 21-window VW bus except people talk to her in crosswalks when she stops for a light. At least with this people strike up a conversation when it’s parked. They are also stranger then the VW people although nobody has claimed to have been conceived in a Cummins turbo diesel pickup the way the VW folks do. The largish turning circle is compensated for by its complete obliviousness to curbs. Fundraising carwashing cheerleaders leave you alone. It’s got a big tow hitch.

If it were up to me I would run down to Tractor Supply and get some Allis Chalmers Orange paint and a big brush, paint this, and fix things up. If I were a little more ambitious, I would find a dead milk truck and do a body swap.

Unfortunately we need to get rid of this before the registration and insurance run out on april 28, and If we can’t sell it by then it goes to the local pick and pull.

I really got tired of the stupid tailgate latch, removed it, and upgraded to a more secure pin.

Hitch house is not a drive through wedding chapel.

What’s LE stand for? Lowered Expectations? Note Fire extinguisher. Note mysterious wiring. Electric brake controller for trailer is a vestige of it’s race car hauling days. Probably does not work.

Needs new tires

Big diesel tank.

Secret hood opening bailing wire to inside fender

Windows go up, windows go down, power locks work. Compares favorably to a Mercedes Benz diesel. Working vent windows!

Tailgate is quite rusty but the bed itself is not. The rust is probably the result of filling the bed with dirt for a few months at a time to make it tow farm trailers better.

Truck bits.

This Leer bed cap comes with it.

So there you have it, a truck that has both driven the Dalton Highway in 1992 and beaten Porsches in competition.

$500 or a Miata

Clean title ( for a relatively dirty druck) in hand