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Second Time Around: Cheap Truck Challenge

Posted in Features on May 20, 2005
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A few days after writing the recollection of my first attempt (and failure) at a Cheap Truck Challenge truck that actually ran, I stumbled upon a '75 Dodge W200 extended-cab 3/4-ton 4x4 for $1,500. A huge grin crept across my face as I remembered my tax return that had entered into my life only the day before. With a swiftness only paralleled by gaudy women at a half-price shoe sale, I snapped up my cell to confirm with the owner that this was indeed the correct information.

Sure enough, he described it just as in the ad. Six or seven people had called to go take a look, and all had said they would buy it, but none had even given him a deposit. One thing I knew for sure: Money talks. And with that attitude I made an appointment the next day. Pockets filled with green, I headed to Corona, California, for the best deal possible on a Dodge that, if as the owner described it, would be mine by the end of the night.

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How Does It Work?
This second time around at the Cheap Truck Challenge proved to be more fruitful, as an 80-mile drive back home assured us of this truck's reliability. If anything can test a vehicle's reliability, it's the busy stop-and-crash-and-go Southern California freeways.

The W200 has a good amount of power, but the thing basically blows goats off-road. The longer the wheelbase, the more it's suppose to flex? Well, check out the total lack of articulation and twist when this rear 33-inch tire lifted as the front tire went up onto a foot-tall rock like 10 freakin' feet in front of the rear.

In the last few days, we've been driving our new Dodge Lawg to work and back to find any potential problems fast. A cooling problem has arisen at higher speeds, with temperatures jumping to almost 250 degrees on the freeways, but it seems to cool itself off once back below 50 mph. We'll look into this further, but it is most likely a worn-out thermostat, a hose collapsing, a bad water pump, a belt slipping, or a tranny cooling issue, as the engine seems to run great and no fluids are burned up or spilled out.

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