Max Factor: Hemi-Powered Dodge D-100 Was a Rebel In Its Time

THESE DAYS, manufacturing facility hot-rod pickups are as commonplace as rock stars sporting guyliner, however all of them owe their heritage to the specifically geared up Dodge D-100 Custom Sports Special you see right here, which debuted in 1964—eight years earlier than Ziggy Stardust painted his face. Yes, in the identical yr designer Mary Quant modified the style world perpetually with the miniskirt, Dodge tried to upend the pickup-truck establishment by introducing a “personal-use” maximum-performance mannequin of the D-100—a Hemi-powered sizzling rod truck lavishly trimmed with bucket seats and a console.

Perhaps some spark of inspiration got here from San Diego DJ Dick Boynton’s success racing his 1963 Dragmaster truck, a Dodge D-100 powered by a 413-cubic inch 420-horse Max Wedge engine that gained its B/FX (manufacturing facility experimental) class on the 1963 Winternationals in Pomona by laying down a 12.71-second, 108.99-mph run. That’s spectacular for a 3,900-pound truck carrying 70 p.c of its weight up entrance. Soon the 413 turned a manufacturing facility special-order possibility as a part of a High-Performance Package. HPP included a 360-horse Street Wedge four-barrel dual-exhaust 413 (outmoded in early 1964 by a 365-horse 426), a push-button 727 LoadFlite three-speed automated, heavy-duty springs, traction bars, energy steering, and a gauge bundle with a 6,000-rpm tach.

The HPP possibility value a whopping $1,235—67 p.c of the bottom value (about $8,700 in in the present day’s cash). To order it, consumers needed to pay in full for the truck prematurely, with out Chrysler Corporation financing. And whereas the advertising literature touts its availability, administration capped complete manufacturing at 50 vans bought and constructed over three mannequin years. That’s most likely as a result of there was little or no revenue in it, as a result of excessive diploma of hand fabrication concerned (customized brackets have been made to connect the Imperial/300 traction bars to the rear axle, a body crossmember needed to be torched out and changed with brackets, the firewall needed to be dented for exhaust-manifold clearance, and so on.).

But there’s far more to the story than that dragstrip drivetrain. The pickup world had been steadily shucking its farmers-and-contractors-only picture for a number of years. Chevrolet’s mid-1955 introduction of the smooth-sided and chrome-bedecked Cameo pickups marked a primary try at critical gentrification. Ford and Dodge responded in 1957 with their Styleside and Sweptside truckbed designs respectively, the latter of which concerned Dodge slapping an ill-fitting two-door station wagon quarter panel onto the prevailing pickup mattress via January 1959. These classier vans appeared extra at house in suburban neighborhoods and vacationland campgrounds, sporting in-bed campers or towing trailers. We famous this development in an October 1964 RV function, attributing a growth in comfort-oriented mild truck gross sales to skyrocketing camper gross sales (up 28 p.c between 1963 and ’64).

Dodge upped its pickup sport for 1961 with an all-new design that included the choice of a correctly built-in, full-width Sweptline mattress (obtainable since mid-’59) in addition to stronger frames, elevated monitor width, plus longer and wider leaf springs and Oriflow shocks in any respect 4 corners for higher experience and dealing with. To appeal to new clients to the phase, Dodge supplied a comfort-and-style oriented Custom Sports Special bundle in 1964, priced at $235. The bundle included black vinyl bucket seats borrowed from the Dodge Dart GT, a middle console from the Polara, twin armrests and sunvisors, a completely carpeted ground and gasoline tank, chrome bumpers and grille, and racing stripes up the hood and cab. The CSS bundle might be ordered with a wide range of engines, any mattress (or chassis-cab) configuration, with rear- or four-wheel drive on half- or three-quarter ton vans in 13 colours.

The fortunate few who sprang for the magic mixture of CSS and HPP purchased the great-granddaddy of each Ram SRT-10, Ford F-150 SVT Lightning, or Chevy Silverado SS454 pickup—and at a reasonably good value. Typically geared up, they went for round $3,500, lower than $25,000 in in the present day’s cash. The unique proprietor of this pristine instance was a gentleman farmer who beloved to street-race his buddies on rural backroads. Lore has it that the supplier or manufacturing facility by some means botched his paperwork and, as a substitute of what he ordered, an identical-looking Custom Sports Special arrived with a measly 230-horse, 318-cubic-inch V-Eight as a substitute of the mighty 426. The supplier apologized profusely and allowed him to drive the 318 whereas the 426 was reordered. He by no means talked about this bureaucratic bungle-up to his streetracing friends, permitting them to beat his supposed Street Wedge beast. Then when the actual factor arrived, he instructed them he’d been tinkering with the carburetor and requested if they’d give him yet one more shot. This time, after all, there was no contest. (He was reportedly adequate to not declare any pink slips.)

A shocking variety of these unique High-Performance Package vans have remained within the households of their unique house owners, together with Benjamin Simons’. His of us stretched to purchase their $3,420 truck (eschewing the CSS frippery) and racked up 450,000 miles on it, crisscrossing the nation with a mattress capper and a tenting trailer in tow. Ben fondly recollects driving together with his mother or dad (they each had lead ft) when some musclecar would cease subsequent to them on the mild. They’d press the “1” button on the transmission selector, and it was sport on. Their sleeper pickup shamed its fair proportion of GTOs, Fairlane 390s, Corvettes, and the like, and was as soon as clocked by a Florida Highway Patrol plane at 130 mph. The trooper on the bottom refused to jot down the ticket, disbelieving such a plain-Jane truck might go that quick. Those have been the times…

Driving the 1964 Dodge D-100 Custom Sports Special

Our ivory Custom Sports Special check automotive was lovingly restored by its present proprietor, the Walter P. Chrysler Museum in Auburn Hills, Michigan. Climbing aboard, it takes some reminding that this was among the many poshest pickup vans available on the market in 1964, given the sybaritic requirements set by in the present day’s Laramie Longhorn, King Ranch, and Denali trim grades. Most of the inside is painted metallic, together with the door-access panels, that are (appropriately) shiny white—as jarring a mismatch with the ivory because the mocha brown door armrests are towards the black seats (additionally appropriate). That distinctive 6,000-rpm tach doesn’t match the opposite gauges both, and the (optionally available!) flip sign stalk can’t be reached with out eradicating a hand from the steering wheel. There’s not a lot “bucketing” to those thrones, however they’re properly padded, and the large console affords loads of storage. The rattan headliner is a pleasant contact, coordinating properly with summer season cowboy hats. There’s no inside rearview mirror, because the regulation stipulated solely two mirrors, and every door bought one to make sure visibility ought to the rear window be obscured by a load.

The massive block fires immediately and settles into a pleasant lope. A little bit of “stiction” within the throttle linkage makes it almost not possible to roll away from a cease with out spitting gravel from the tall, slender bias plies whereas parading for the digicam at a suburban Detroit horse farm. The steering feels as if energy help was merely added to a guide gear, and with 5 turns lock to lock, it’s astonishing how a lot enter is required to barter the gentlest of bends. Keep flailing, nevertheless, and it turns tight sufficient to barter a U-turn on a two-lane street with ample shoulders. The brake pedal travels a ways earlier than the guide drum brakes kick in, however they really feel sturdy and are simply modulated. Ride high quality is consistent with half-century-old solid-axle, leaf-sprung expertise—purposeful however not overly harsh. A quick spin on the paved roads across the WPC Museum the subsequent day reveals the problem of routing 470 pound-feet of torque via two exhausting contact patches which are 4.25 inches huge every. Feather the gasoline via most of first gear to stop complete tire immolation, and dither it once more on the 1-2 upshift or danger one other massive dose of wheelspin. But, wow, does that bellowing Wedge sound candy drowning out the Goodyears’ squeals for mercy.

After approach too little of this hi-po hooliganism, the rising shriek of an unraveling speedometer cable joins the refrain, chopping the check drive of this historic manufacturing facility muscle truck brief. But it’s been sufficient D-100 426 seat time to color a smirk on this face that mere chilly cream might by no means clear off. (Editor’s NOTE: This story initially appeared within the Spring 2011 challenge of Motor Trend Classic).

1964 Dodge D-100 Custom Sports Special Specs

Engine: 425.6-cu-in/6974cc OHV V-8, 1×4-bbl Carter AFB3611S carburetor
Power and torque (SAE gross): 365 hp @ 4,800 rpm, 470 lb-ft @ 3,200 rpm
Drivetrain: 3-speed automated RWD
Brakes: Drums entrance/rear
Suspension: Solid axle, leaf springs, entrance/reside axle, leaf springs, rear
Dimensions (l x w x h): 214.1 x 79.9 x 67.1 in
Weight: 3,874 lb
Performance quarter mile: 14.1 at 102 mph (Valdosta Raceway run, Simons household truck, operating a 3.55:1 SureGrip axle and stock-size, race compound tires)
Price when new: $3,500


BENJAMIN SIMONS is a Web designer and photographer for the University of Florida college of enterprise by day, and an oracle of Sweptline high-performance truck info by night time.

WHY I LIKE IT: “I came home from the hospital in this truck and grew up with it, taking innumerable family camping vacations in it.”

WHY IT’S COLLECTIBLE: Only 50 Street Wedge Sweptlines have been constructed, they usually’re traditionally important as the primary manufacturing facility high-performance pickups.

RESTORING/MAINTAINING: New or repro elements for Dodge pickups of this classic are almost nonexistent, so discover a good truck or an ace physique store and fabricator.

BEWARE: Quick-rusting footwells, cowls, and door edges. Valve covers are distinctive to the vans, and are extremely uncommon, as are the hand-fabricated rear axle traction-bar mounts.

EXPECT TO PAY: Concours prepared: $90,000; strong driver: $25,000; drained runner: $12,000

JOIN THE CLUB: Walter P Chrysler Club (, 1961-1971 Dodge Truck Association, (, Custom Sports Special & High Performance Package Registry (


THEN: “Acceleration, even with the rather conservative 318 engine, wasn’t just brisk—it was pleasantly alarming. Tires chirped at the shift from low to second, even on normal starts. Coupled with the light body and heavy-duty suspension components, the Palomino offers a maverick choice.”—Carl Isica, Motor Trend, April 1964

NOW: In phrases of energy, efficiency, engine word, and dealing with, Dodge’s Street Wedge D-100 is each bit as a lot a “muscle truck” as any ’49 Rocket 88 or ’64 GTO is a musclecar—it’s only a entire lot extra attention-grabbing as a result of there are so few of them.


At about the identical time Boynton was tearing up the West Coast together with his Max Wedge Dragmaster, a purpose-built Ford F-100 “unibody” pickup was tearing up the Eastern U.S., outfitted with a 425-horse Galaxie drag engine operating twin four-barrel carbs, a Borg-Warner T-10 transmission, a closely modified suspension, and 4.86:1 gearing. Dearborn Steel Tubing, which pitched in on many Ford Racing packages, engineered and constructed one truck and printed advertising materials touting the XL as a dealer-orderable possibility bundle, transformed at DST and priced at $3,400 above the bottom truck. This literature claimed the F-100 XL was unbeaten in 16 begins operating in the identical B/FX class because the Max Wedge Dodge with almost an identical quarter-mile runs of 12.72 sec at 108 mph. Sad to say, the 2 vans by no means met and no extra F-100 XLs are believed to have been constructed.

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