With the demise of the A-Body...
With the demise of the A-Body platform, the F-Body would make its debut. These were some rough years for Chrysler, as these cars were prone to rust problems. If you can find a nice one to start with, they make great show, cruise in, or dragstrip cars.
7 - '76-'80 F-Body and '81-'89 M-Body
In the late '70s, Mopar fans knew that-with the same powertrain-the A-Body was faster, but the F-Body Plymouth Volare and Dodge Aspen handled better. They didn't have the A-Body's five-inch difference between front and rear track, but it did have transverse-mounted torsion bars that gave them more of a big-car ride than their A-Body predecessors (or competition) had.
The Road Runner nameplate migrated from the B-Body to the F-Body for 1976, and stayed there through 1980. (Same with the R/T badge, last seen on B-Body Dodges in 1971.)
F-Bodies were also the choice of many cop shops around the country, which picked Volare or Aspen sedans with the A38 police package instead of downsized offerings from the competition. A lot of that chassis hardware, including the slotted "police" wheels, wound up under the '78 and '79 Volare/Aspen Super Coupe and Street Kit Car, along with the E58 360 and heavy-duty 727.
The F-Body morphed into the M-Body (Dodge Diplomat, Chrysler Fifth Avenue, and Plymouth Gran Fury/Caravelle) for '81, but the two-door version is a rarity. After 1983, the 318's Carter Thermoquad four-barrel carburetor went away, replaced by a Rochester Quadrajet. Production carried on through 1989.
The M-Body was a mainstay of municipal and state cop car fleets during the 1980s, and code AHB police package Gran Furys and Diplomats had the E58's heads from 1981 onward on their 318s
Make sure that the one that grabs your eye still has its transverse torsion bar front suspension. That setup is a favorite item for the fat fender (1948-earlier) folks to swap into their cruisers.
And if you find a Street Kit Car, look for the original "43" decals that were shipped in the trunk for dealer installation.
The ideal combination of work...
The ideal combination of work truck, project Mopar, and show-worthy cruiser: the '94-'01 Ram pickups, which you can dress up in any way you can imagine.
8 - '94-'01 Dodge Ram pickups
These are the trucks that changed everything, especially that of pickup buyers' perceptions about Dodges. Ram was now a state-of-the-art rig with more power, towing, and carrying capacity than its competitors-and it looked better. In no time, the aftermarket came up with parts to improve their performance, add to their utility, or dress them up-or all that at the same time.
The 3.9L V-6 was standard in the base Ram 1500s, but most 2WD Rams came with a 5.2L or 5.9L Magnum V-8 that's easily upgraded, as is the Cummins Turbo Diesel that was now a mainstay of the line. The Ram's Club Cab version arrived in 1995, followed by the Quad Cab in 1998.
Not only do the Rams make for great project vehicles in their own right, but they can double as a parts-chaser and hauler for that next Mopar project!
Do not adjust your eyeballs....
Do not adjust your eyeballs. This is a late '70s Dodge B-Series van outfitted in the custom-van style of that time. (Fortunately, not as outlandish as some Bow Tie and Blue Oval vans were!)
9 - '63-'70 Dodge A-Series and '71-'03 B-Series/Ram Vans
Designed to out-work their competition, the A100 and long-wheelbase A108 vans (new for 1967) did that, in cargo van and window van versions, along with a pickup that drag racer Bill "Maverick" Golden made famous as the "Little Red Wagon." Most had Slant Sixes for power, but the 318 Poly was an option in '63 and '64, with the 273-inch LA small-block replacing it in 1965.
Not all A-Series vans were work trucks. The well-appointed Sportsman vans borrowed a lot of interior parts and trim from Dodge's car interiors, and the Travco-converted, pop-top Camper Wagon was a Sportsman ideal for '60s-style "roughing it." Other Travco A-Series conversions to look for include the "Executive Suite" and "Host Wagon," which were like an office-or living room-on wheels.
The van that best fit the "room on wheels" idea was the A-Series' successor: the B-Series that debuted in 1971. Most notable of these is the "Street Van," an option group that included high-back bucket seats, plenty of bright trim, plus templates for the floor, sides, and roof to help buyers customize them.