our '79 Dodge Power Wagon
It just doesn't get any better than building a truck that
everyone says is a waste of time and then wasting them with that same
truck on the trails. We have been building this truck for our sister
publication, Offroad Exchange, and it was finally time to
ring it out and see what worked and what didn't. We headed to Big Bear, CA
for a little summer fun and testing. Here's what we learned.
|| We were having way too much fun for a full-size
truck. This little gully was narrow and steep. In a Jeep it's
nothing but with the 115" wheelbase of our Dodge it was a
different story. Sometimes wheelbase helps but this wasn't one of
||As you can see from this picture we didn't have any
mud to play with. Everything was pretty much dried out. You can also
see the Superlift 5" suspension and 35" Goodyear MT/R's on
15x8" Mickey Thomson Classic II wheels. We had to cut the
fenders to deal with the copious amounts of flex we are getting on
this truck. We whacked 2" off the rear of the fronts and about
4" off the bottom of the front of the fenders (just below the
marker lights). There's also about 2" chopped off the stock
front bumper. I don't know if that helps at all but it sure looks
The passenger side was fine with this trimming but the drivers
side hit, and hit hard! We are looking at why and how to fix that
but it looks like another 1/2" or so might do it.
||The rear suspension doesn't compress much but it sure
does droop. We added 2" drop shackles to the rear springs to
help level the truck and bam! It's an amazing difference back there.
The longer shackles make for a much better ride and better trail
manners without hurting load capacity. This is the trick of all
tricks on this truck and we are very happy with the way it's
performed so far. We'll be taking it on some harder stuff soon so
look for more updates when we get back.
||Here's why I love Big Bear. You can camp in one of the
Yellow Post sites for free (you still need to get a permit and an
Adventure Pass, go to the Discovery Center in Fawnskin) but you are
alone out there. I'm not telling where this spot is because I still
want to be able to use it too. It gets pretty crowded up there at
times so plan ahead and come early. BTW, that big tree in the middle
of camp is a Ponderosa Pine, long story.
As you can see it's more a matter of determination
rather than right. A full-size Dodge might not have the right to go the
places this one goes, but with enough determination and disregard for
sheet metal it does go where you point it. That seems to be the way most
Dodge owners think anyways and I guess I'm no different. Look for these
trucks to be on a trial near you soon, whether they should be or not!