Posted by: Mark Polk | 2017

1992 Dodge Dakota Warrior

In the early 90’s Dodge came out with two special edition Dodge Dakota trucks with step-side beds. A company called L.E.R. Industries did the conversions. The step-side beds were constructed out of fiberglass and a product called galvineel was used on the inside of the step-side beds.

These trucks were designed to resemble the popular Li’l Red Express and Dodge Warlock truck’s of the late 70’s. Although the exact number of these special edition Dakota truck’s is not known it is believed that there were less than 500 made.

The Dodge Dakota truck that resembled the black Dodge Warlock truck’s was named Warrior. The black Warrior truck’s are more rare than the Lil red Express Dakota truck’s. These special edition Dakota truck’s were intended to be made in 1990 and 1991, however some of the bed conversions were left over and used in 1992 model trucks. It is said that only about 40 of the 1992 conversions were done. Another thing that makes the 1992 model truck’s unique is the magnum 318 V8 used in some of the truck’s.

I recently found and purchased a one owner 1992 Dodge Dakota Warrior with a 318 magnum engine. It is 100% original from the factory. I have the build sheet and the original pricing from the dealership where the owner purchased it new in 1993.  The truck has 162,000 original miles with a list of all the maintenance that was done on the truck. The clear-coat is peeling off and it could use a paint job. There is no rust except for some surface rust on the roof and there are no dents in the truck. This is a very rare and original 1992 Dodge Dakota Warrior.

If anybody is interested in purchasing the truck you can contact me at mark@rveducation101.


When I went to look at and eventually purchase the 65 Coronet 500 I did not expect it to be a running car. As a matter of fact no vehicle I ever restored to date had a perfectly running engine when I started the restoration. So it was a big plus when the owner told me the 426 street wedge not only runs, but runs really good. He said he removed the valve covers and the top of the heads looked brand new and it was easy to see all the new gaskets and gasket sealer at all the seams in the engine. This alone will save me thousands of dollars in machine work, parts and rebuilding this big block engine.

The biggest problem these 426 street wedge engines had was an inadequate intake manifold and an undersized carburetor. My plan for the engine is to get a better breathing intake manifold, larger CFM carburetor, and possibly a mild camshaft grind, we’ll see. I would like to get the horse power in the 375 to 390 range. I will keep the original parts as well.

The interior of the car is in terrible condition and needs total restoration, to include all new floorboards. What is nice is there are aftermarket parts available for the Coronet like complete floorboard sets, OEM matching seat covers and more. It’s a job removing the old floorboards and welding in the new ones, but having replacements available that are equivalent to the original makes the job much easier and a better looking end product too.

When I restored my 71 Dodge Power Wagon there were no aftermarket parts so you had to locate used parts all over the country and recondition everything. A lot of the Coronet parts are not available either, and if you are lucky enough to find used parts in good condition you will pay a pretty penny for them.


There are other modifications I can make to upgrade the Coronet, like front disc brakes and a rebuilt steering gear box to help improve the driving and handling. When I restore a vehicle it is so I can drive the vehicle, so any suspension, braking, or steering upgrades are beneficial.

The Coronet is in a much better condition starting out then the 71 Power Wagon was so once I get into the restoration project it should go smoothly.

Mark Polk

Auto Education 101


When I purchase a classic vehicle with plans to restore it I like to learn as much history about the vehicle as I can. When I say history I mean historical data about the year, make and model and history of where it originated and who owned the car. Sometimes it is difficult to get this information.

When I got the 65 Coronet home I found part of the original broadcast sheet. A broadcast sheet was used on the assembly line so workers knew how the car would be built and equipped. There were usually several broadcast sheets throughout the assembly process and sometimes you will find one (or more) tucked away in different places in the car. It might be under a front seat, above the glove box or like in my case located in the springs behind the back seat. Only about half of the broadcast sheet survived, but it’s pretty amazing any of it was there seeing as how the back window was out of the car for quite some time.
I could not get any information from the broadcast sheet, but I am glad to have what is there. Chrysler has a historical services department and you can write to them and request the build card for your vehicle. All you need to do is show proof of ownership. They have microfilm records on most cars up to 1967 models. You send a check and they make a copy of the build card and send it back to you. When I got mine they apologized for it not being very clear, and they even sent my check back. I was able to verify everything I thought to be true about the car. It was a 65 coronet 500 and it did leave the factory with a 426 street wedge engine and 727 transmission.
Something else they told me was the original selling dealer was Lynn Cooper Inc. in Clinton SC. When I bought the car the owner, who lived in NC, told me he saw an ad for a tractor in SC and when he went to look at the tractor the family had the 65 Coronet 500. They told him the previous owner started restoring the car and then got sick and passed away. The man I bought it from purchased the tractor and the car. This guy builds 426 hemi cars and he needed some money to buy a 70 Cuda body from a junkyard so he sold the Coronet to me.
I thought it was interesting that we traced its roots back to SC and just for the heck of it I searched the internet for the original selling dealer. Turns out Cooper Motors is still in business after 70 years. Lynn Cooper senior started the dealership in 1938 and passed it on to Lynn Cooper Jr. in 1956 who in turn passed it on to third generation Lynn “Chip” Cooper III who still runs the dealership today. I wrote to the dealership and told them I thought it would be cool if they had a dealership badge that I could put on the deck lid after the car is restored. They immediately got in contact with me and said they were sending a package with several different badges to choose from.
Knowing the history of a vehicle makes you feel more attached to the vehicle. I have to finish a Jeep CJ7 restoration project I am currently working on then I can turn my attention to the 1965 Dodge Coronet 500. I can’t wait and I will do the owner who started the restoration proud!
Mark Polk
Auto Education 101
Posted by: Mark Polk | 2016

Coolest Jeeps at SEMA 2016

Take a look at some of the coolest custom built Jeeps at SEMA 2016

Posted by: Mark Polk | 2016

Coolest trucks at SEMA 2016

Check out over 100 of the custom built trucks on display at SEMA 2016

Posted by: Mark Polk | 2016

Camaro Celebrates 50th Anniversary

Camaro 50th Anniversary Woodward Dream Cruise

Enthusiasts tour the heritage display as Chevrolet commemorates Camaro’s 50th anniversary during the Woodward Dream Cruise Saturday, August 20, 2016 in Birmingham, Michigan. The display includes the first Camaro built, a 60-foot mural, and rare and milestone examples from the car’s six generations, including the all-new 2017 Camaro ZL1 and 1LE models. (Photo by Santa Fabio for Chevrolet) (For editorial use only)

Posted by: Mark Polk | 2016

Collector Car Appreciation Day

On July 8, 2016, the 8th anniversary of Collector Car Appreciation Day will be observed.

This day is set aside each year to raise awareness of the vital role automotive restoration and collection plays in American society. American’s have had a fascination with the automobile since the first U.S. horseless carriage was demonstrated in 1893 by the Duryea Motor Wagon Company.

The automobile appeals to American’s sense of adventure, nostalgia, perseverance and exploration.  The motor companies tailored their designs to a public that demanded a particular style.  With the Ford assembly line came affordability.  We associate each era with a certain car.  Whether it’s a Prohibition-era Cadillac Sedans, 1950s era muscle cars, our grandfather’s pickup trucks, they take us back.


Post photos of your collector car on social media using #CollectorCarAppreciationDay.


Collector Car Appreciation Day is sponsored by the SEMA Action Network (SAN) since 2009. Per request of The SEMA Action Network (SAN), each year the U.S. Senate has passed a Resolution helping to launch Collector Car Appreciation Day. For more information visit

Posted by: Mark Polk | 2016

Jeep CJ7 Squealing Belt Fix

pulley finishedThis article is for the V-belt on a 1981 Jeep CJ7. The jeep does not have a serpentine belt and it does not have an automatic belt tensioner. Belts on an engine are used to power essential items and accessories like the alternator, power steering or air conditioning. My 81 CJ7 has a 2.5L engine and there is only one belt. The Jeep does not have accessories like power steering or air conditioning so the single belt is  used for the alternator, water pump and cooling fan.

About a year ago I drove the Jeep through some fairly deep water during a thunderstorm and shortly afterwards I had to replace the alternator. Prior to that the belt rarely made any noise. After replacing the alternator the Jeep developed an ongoing problem with a squealing belt.

Belts can squeal for several reasons. The belt can slip on the pulley, it can be out of alignment, the belt tension can be out of adjustment and the belt or the pulley(s) can be old and worn out. My first attempt at fixing the problem was to adjust the belt tension.  In the military we would simply press our thumb in the center of the belt, between two of the pulleys, and if there was 1/2 inch to one inch of deflection it was within adjustment. After I adjusted the belt it continued to squeal every now and then.

My next attempt at correcting the problem was checking and adjusting the belt alignment. It looked as though the belt might be slightly out of alignment, so I used washers between the alternator and the bracket until the belt looked perfectly in line with the pulleys and the alternator. After correcting the alignment the belt still squealed periodically.

belt glazedMy third attempt at fixing the noisy belt was to remove and inspect the belt and the pulleys. What I discovered was the belt and the pulleys were glazed. My thought was the heavy glazing probably caused the belt to slip, making the squealing noise.



pulley sandedI rolled up a piece of sandpaper so it fit in the groove of the pulleys and sanded both pulleys unit the glaze and rust was removed down to bare metal.




pulley paintedI bought a can of black high-heat engine spray paint and painted two coats on both pulleys. I wanted to make sure the paint had plenty of time to dry and cure before testing it, so I let it sit for 48 hours.

I bought a new v-belt, installed it, adjusted it and started the Jeep. No squealing. I drove the Jeep and there was no more squealing. Problem solved. I just wish I checked the belt and pulleys first!


Mark Polk

Auto Education 101

Posted by: Mark Polk | 2016

Jeep CJ7 Ball Joint Replacement

While I waited for the engine to get back from the machine shop I decided to do more front end work. I installed the Pro Comp 4-inch lift on the front suspension and thought this would be a good time to inspect and repair the Jeep’s front end, especially with easy access like this.

Jeep CJ 7 front axleBy the look of things I was convinced none of this has been touched since the Jeep was new. I decided to replace the 36 year-old ball joints, the U joints in the front axles, go through the front hubs, repack the wheel bearings and check the brakes. I also want to drain the front axle, replace the pinion seal and refill the axle with new gear oil. I plan to use this Jeep as a daily driver so fixing things now will save me headaches down the road.


Jeep CJ7 front spindleThe first step, after jacking it up and removing the tires, was to remove the brake calipers, the brake rotors, disassemble the front hubs, remove the spindles and the axles. Other than dealing with some rusty bolts it came apart fairly easy, and I was surprised to see a good amount of grease on the bearings and front hubs. But now that it’s apart it only makes sense to clean the wheel bearings and races so I can check their condition and then repack the bearings and replace the wheel seals.


jeep cj7 steering knuckle removedI realized the only way I was going to remove the lower ball joint was by removing the entire steering knuckle. I used a small pitman arm puller to separate the tie rod ends from the steering knuckle. I usually use an old pickle fork but this new puller worked great. I did need to use the fork to break the ball joints loose from the steering knuckle though. Eventually I got the steering knuckles removed and can do the rest of the job at the vice.


Jeep CJ7 ball joint removalI rented a ball joint remover set from the auto parts store and soon discovered it wasn’t ideal for removing Jeep CJ7 ball joints. It took a little creativity to make the tool work and to figure out which ball joint to remove and then install first so I had room for the tool. After getting the new ball joints pressed in I decided to use the ball joint tool to remove the old U joints from the front axles before turning the tool in.


jeep cj7 ball joints installedI got the new ball joints pressed in. Now it will take another day or so to clean all these parts up, sand, prime and paint some things and to do the reassembly. All in all I’ll be glad I did this after the Jeep is all put back together. Next I want to remove the T176 transmission and try to figure out why it’s popping out of gear. I never rebuilt a manual transmission, but I am considering it after seeing how much they charge for a rebuild. I can get the rebuild kit for about $130 and they want $800 to $1000 for a rebuilt T176. That seems ridiculous to me unless it’s a lot harder than it looks.


Mark J. Polk

Auto Education 101



Posted by: Mark Polk | 2016

Winter Jeep CJ7 Project

jeep 80I am anxious to get started on my 65 Dodge Coronet 500 build, but first I need to get my 1980 Jeep CJ7 project finished. I found a good deal on a 1980 CJ7 with a 304 and power steering, so I picked it up. My plan is to do a clone of the 79 Silver Anniversary Renegade. It will be a daily driver, so the restoration does not have to be show quality.

I want to rebuild the 304 engine and install a 4-inch Pro Comp lift I have at the shop. The transmission pops out of gear so I will more-than-likely rebuild it and then go through the brakes, hubs, and axles. When the Jeep it is mechanically correct I will finish the body work and paint to match a 79 Silver Anniversary Renegade.

jeep in shop ft end removedThe first step was to get the front end off the Jeep for easy access to the engine. I made room in the shop for the Jeep and got busy removing the front end. Removing the front end serves several purposes. I can access  the engine easier, start on rust repair on both front fenders, clean and prep the firewall and front frame section for primer and paint, and when I get ready to paint the Jeep I have access to everything so no red paint will be noticeable when it’s finished. The Jeep does not have a lot of rust, but there are a couple spots on the fenders and grill that require some patch panel fabrication and welding.

jeep engine outWith the front end off I got the engine out and disassembled it to have a look inside. I was hoping I could do a basic rebuild and use any parts that were still in good shape. When I got the pistons out I noticed a pretty large ridge at the top of the cylinder walls and my hopes of using existing parts quickly diminished. The cylinders would need to be bored, so the engine will get a complete engine rebuild kit.


jeep engine disasebbledThese old 304 engines did not put out much horsepower, especially by 1980. I am hoping to squeeze a few more horsepower out of it by adding a mild cam, headers and a slightly bigger carburetor. Depending on the budget I might spring for a new intake as well. I loaded the engine parts in the truck and headed to my favorite machine shop.


jeep install liftThe machine work will take awhile so I got busy installing the Pro Comp 4-inch lift while the engine is out of the Jeep. I also started welding some small patch panels in and doing some of the body work. At some point in time somebody painted over the original red color with a lavender color and the paint is difficult to sand. I am not looking forward to sanding the entire Jeep but there is no way around it, especially when you plan to change colors completely.


jeep rust repair patchBodywork and rust repair are probably my least favorite jobs during a restoration, but if you are going to do it you might as well do it right. I learned along time ago if you don’t fix rust the right way it is just a matter of time before it starts coming back through your new paint job. The best way to deal with it is to cut it out completely and weld new metal it its place. This stops the rust from spreading and you use less filler when you do the body work.


Mark J. Polk

Auto Education 101

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