Posted by: Mark Polk | 2013

1971 Dodge W100 Power Wagon Build

Hello and welcome to my 71 Dodge Sweptline W100 Power Wagon build thread.

1971 W100 Power Wagon

1971 W100 Power Wagon

My name is Mark Polk and I am the owner of RV Education 101. We produce RV training videos on how to safely and properly use and maintain Recreation Vehicles (RVs). In 2011 we produced an online TV series titled Mark’s RV Garage. It was a 17 episode series, and the feature segment was a vintage travel trailer restoration project. We took the trailer down to the bare frame and over a 7 month time period rebuilt it from the ground up.

1967 vintage Yellowstone trailer after

1967 vintage Yellowstone trailer after

It was a fun father and son project, but when it was over I vowed to never get myself into a project like that again. Well “never again” only lasted about 15 months. I started thinking about how cool it would be to find an old classic truck from the same era as the vintage trailer and restore it and then use it to tow the trailer to some RV and auto shows.

I am a product of the muscle car era. As a kid in the 60s and 70s I grew up surrounded by cool old cars from the time period. I hung out in local auto body shops and at my dad’s garage, learning how to work on cars at a young age. I liked just about any muscle car, but was always partial to Mopar. Back then you could buy a used muscle car for $1,000 or less, so I had the opportunity to own and drive lots of cars from this time period. I just wish I still owned some of the cars I bought, traded and sold without giving a second thought.

When I started looking for a project truck I was really excited to find an ad on Craigslist for a 1971 Dodge W100 Power Wagon. From 1961 to 1971 Dodge used the Sweptline body style that I always liked. I preferred the 4X4 short bed version rather than the 2×4 longbed D100 version, and that’s exactly what I found.

The owner was asking $3,900 for the truck and didn’t seem willing to negotiate. We corresponded by e-mail for a couple of weeks and eventually I decided to make the 2 hour trip to see the truck first-hand. During my first visit the plan was to look the truck over and if I was still interested make an offer on it. In the world of restoring vehicle’s I am on a very limited budget, so whatever truck I ended up with the purchase price would be a very important consideration. I want this project truck to be more of a daily driver than a show vehicle. After carefully looking the truck over I offered the owner $2,000. He said not no but %#** no!

Over the next month or so I continued to email the owner, pleading my case as to why the truck was not worth more than the 2K I offered him. I began to notice a trend where every week or so he would respond to my emails by lowering the asking price by about $100 to $150. I didn’t want to lose the truck so I slowly upped my offer to $2,250, with the end goal of not paying a penny more than $2,500. Eventually the owner dropped the price to $2,900. I told him I would bring $2,500 cash, no questions asked, and take it home with me. He said $2,600 was the absolute bottom dollar, so that is what I paid for the 1971 W100 Sweptline project truck.

71 Dodge W100 power Wagon

71 Dodge W100 power Wagon

This truck originated in California. It was used as a shop truck at a gas station and as a push truck at a local race track to push broken down cars off the track. The previous owner was in the Coast Guard and brought the truck from California to North Carolina. It originally had a 318 engine and 727 automatic transmission. At some point in time the engine was replaced with a big block 383. The truck runs okay, with no noticeable smoking or knocking. The original fuel tank that was located behind the driver’s seat in the cab of the truck was removed, as were the two smaller saddle fuel tanks on each side under the bed of the truck. The replacement fuel tank is now in the bed of the truck, but hopefully not for long. The body is in fair to rough condition. There is little to no rust on the body with the exception of the floor boards, which were repaired using sheet metal and pop rivets.
71 Power wagon interior

71 Power wagon interior

The interior is in rough condition, but all of the gauges seem to work when Idrove it home. It does not have power steering and with the old 3- speed 727 transmission it was screaming to shift, running about 3,000 rpms  at 60mph. Without an overdrive transmission I am concerned that running at higher RPMs will not only waste a lot of fuel, but limit my highway driving speed too, so this will need to be addressed. The rear 8 3/4 Chrysler axle gearing is designed more for work than crusing, contributing to these fuel and highway driving issues as well.

One thing I will tell potential Dodge Sweptline project builders is don’t expect to find original or aftermarket parts easily. Ford and Chevy both offer better OEM and aftermarket parts availability for classic trucks than Dodge does.

After a great deal of research on the Internet I realize the challenge in front of me, but I would not trade this old Sweptline Power Wagon for another truck.

Thanks for joining me on the power wagon build and join me again next time when I come up with some sort of  plan on where to start this build.

 Click here to continue to next post: 71 Power Wagon Build-Up – The Plan

Mark Polk

RV Education 101

RV Consumer

Join us on Facebook



%d bloggers like this: