Ever since I was a little kid riding in the passenger seat of this exact truck, I knew one day I would own it. It was purchased new in December of 1988 by a gentleman in Port Republic, MD and used to drive to and from the DC Metro area daily. After 3 years of driving it with no overdrive and 4.10 gears, he sold it to my grandfather in October of 1992, making it the first and only 4 wheel drive vehicle he has owned. At the time, my grandfather had just finished fighting a disease that had destroyed most of his nerve endings, so it was too much of a truck for him to drive, and was used often by my father to drive to college, or by my uncles to haul and tow farm implements. I was born in 1999 and from a very young age fell in love with the truck, with it being my main mode of transportation every Monday afternoon after preschool with my dad taking me to the landfill then to lunch in it.
With it being the workhorse of the household, it was constantly used and abused. Many trips were made to hardware stores to pickup lumber for at home projects, one trip was done in the snow to pick up a gun cabinet 3 hours away in Salisbury, and even a local trip where it was loaded with so much sand that the rear leaf springs were flattened and groaning, and the 15 mile trip home was done in 4-Low. It was at this point in time (mid 2000s) that the age of parts were beginning to show, and the truck began to sit more and more in my grandparents' driveway. It was still used for the occasional dump run or hardware store trip, but it usually was accompanied by a sticking brake or a leaking rear axle pinion seal or rear tire. Then Hurricane Sandy blew through the East Coast in 2012, and my grandfather allowed me to drive it for the first time as we cleaned up debris on our property. That was the start of my reign behind the wheel.
I began to drive the truck around the yard and from my grandparents to my house, giving me my first sense of freedom. But it was at this point the truck began to have a very bad misfire and not want to run properly. After replacing plugs and plug wires (along with cap and rotor), dad and I found gas in the oil and only 5 cylinders firing due to the fuel pressure regulator on the original Holley TBI going bad. She ran alot better at this point, was the tip of the iceberg. It was at this time I turned 16 and got my learner's permit, and I began to see the amounting work needed for it to become a reliable daily driver. I kept practicing and driving the truck on my own during this time, and working part time at a golf course to save up money, but the truck didn't look like it was going to be fixed until one late evening in early October during my senior year of high school when I pressed on the brakes a little too hard and suddenly all the lights came on and the pedal went straight to the floor. That began her revival.
I was lucky to have grown up in a gearhead family, and with that one of my uncles had given me everything to replace the front brakes with for my 16th birthday. Using that money from my part time job, I bought all new brake lines, General Grabber AT2 tires, Rancho shock, a Flowmaster 40 series muffler (I could not afford a full exhaust due to corrosion on the manifold bolts), and a brand new brake booster to start. After working on it every afternoon and weekend in my grandparents' yard with my uncle and dad, we got the truck back on the road in early January and just in time for me to drive it to school on my 18th birthday for the first time with my new license. As time went on in 2017, more and more parts started to break, and the truck developed a backfire when I attempted to floorboard it out the parking lot at school. It got me to where I needed to go just fine, and even got me my first run in with the law (state trooper thought I had a third brake light out but in reality it was my cargo light). In the spring I replaced the radiator with a Spectra plastic one from Summit and took it to my high school prom (my date did not enjoy it). Once I graduated high school, I treated myself and had the leaking rear pinion seal replaced, and it was at this point I bought myself a used winch bumper to begin my vision of creating an older style monster truck from the 1980s and 90s that once graced Petersen's 4WOR.
In July of 2017, after attending with my dad Chryslers at Carlisle for the prior 4 years, I drove the truck 170 miles north into Pennsylvania for the first time and entered for the 100th anniversary of the Dodge Truck, which was something I had set in mind to do at the start of 2017. Luckily it made it there and back (Still backfiring) and the very next day I installed the bumper, changing the overall look of a bone stock, 46,000 mile truck. For the rest of 2017, I spent loads of money trying to track down and solve what was causing this mysterious backfire, including new injectors and a fuel pump, which in the process led to me breaking a hard to find piece and spending a week searching for it across the country. Finally, in January of 2018, I hooked a timing light to it and found that my distributor was set 12 degrees @$%&@$$$ from where it should be, and I had put over 4,000 miles on an engine running at 2 degrees ATDC. Once that was fixed, I found where my missing horsepower and gas mileage was. Throughout 2018, I was still dailying it and taking it to as many car shows as I could. I took my Easter Break to install a tachometer in it, and fulfill an engrained image in my head of a similar setup my cousin had in his K20 when I was 5. I once again made the trip to Carlisle in July, and unbelievably got 12 mpg average on the trip there (in comparison to the 10 mpg the prior year) with still no overdrive and rear gears. In October I made the decision to convert all the external lighting to LED lighting, including headlights by a Canadian company Altitude Lighting. It was December 2018 that I went on my first high speed escorted run with the local Mopar group, where I found out it tops out at just under 100 mph.
2019 was more of just daily driving and doing basic maintenance. In May I graduated from community college with an associates and transferred to an undergraduate school for my bachelors, and with that my grandfather gifted me with signing the title over to me, so that it was officially all mine. I also began driving this truck every day in the summer to commute to and from my job, which consisted of an hour a day each way of stop and go traffic with no air conditioning and all the humidity found in Maryland. Three days prior to my departure to Carlisle, I decided to install a set of KC Highlights and make my own switch panel for it, with it being accomplished less than 24 hours before I left. In October I took it to Endless Summer Cruisin in Ocean City, and cross off a bucket list item I had wanted to do with it since I was a little kid.
And thus 2020 begins with the truck rolling over to 60,000 miles. Very little was done with it throughout the year. In June I replaced u-joints and seals in the front axle after salt water entered them from my trip in Ocean City (half the city was flooded and I may have taken it swimming). Of course it made the trip to Carlisle for the 4th time, with absolutely nothing changed on it and picking up a factory Sport wheel from a 1984 Royal SE for it while there. August a hurricane once again came through and took out our pier for a second time, and the truck once again was put into action with pulling 3 foot diameter logs out of the creek (with very little issue). In October I put on NOS KC Chrysler light covers for the lights and installed the Sport wheel after spending more money to have it rewrapped in leather than what I spent in total on having the bumper bought and shipped to me from Oregon. I also took it back to Ocean City and had a blast (and kept it away from salt water this time). As of now, it has 63k miles on it and is still my daily, but hasn't been driven much due to school and work being online.