Arizona Ram: 1990 Dodge Ram D150

Is there such a thing as having too many sub-$2,000 pickups for sale? I think not. Especially when they sound as promising as this 1990 Dodge Ram D150 does. This Ram Tough truck is in Tucson, Arizona where I should be right now, and it’s for sale on Craigslist with an asking price of $1,950! This is a lot of truck for that money, a lot of truck. Here is the archived CL listing, this 1/2-ton truck won’t be for sale for too much longer.

There are a couple of reasons why this truck is right around the two-grand mark. You can see that it isn’t a jewel box, it does have some dings and dents. Also, it’s a two-wheel drive pickup. But, for $1,950 it seems like it would be hard to go wrong with this Dodge. And, did I mention that it has a 4-speed manual transmission? This truck has 155,000 miles on it but the seller says that there’s a lot “of transport, trailering and adventure left in this truck!”

This truck was made for hauling, and that’s just what it’ll do, one of these days this truck is going to haul all over you.. That doesn’t have quite the same ring to it as These Boots Were Made for Walking does, but now I can’t get that song out of my head. With its long box, or long bed as they say in some circles, this truck was made for hauling. Unfortunately, there are no photos of the inside of the box. Being in Tucson, I can’t imagine that it’s too rusty but it would be nice to see a photo of it.

The interior, while being a little sun-baked in areas, does look good. A missing brake pedal cover will need to be tracked down and I think the seats are just covered to protect them, not to cover up any cracks or tears, although, the driver’s side does have some issues. The same with the dash pad. The seller says that the “upholstery and floorboards are good and it has had a dash protector all its life.” I know that we sometimes, or more often than not, hype up vehicles having manual transmissions. They may not be the best for commuting duties, but they are just more engaging and just plain more fun to drive, in my opinion. This one is a “great shifting 4 speed (with granny), and good MPGs.” The seller throws out this info: “EPA mileage 16 city, 22 highway (2WD, manual transmission).” I’m guessing that the highway mpg figure may be a little on the high side?

This dusty engine isn’t a big V8 as you probably guessed by the 22 mpg highway number in the last paragraph. This is Dodge’s fuel-injected 239 cubic-inch V6 with around 125 hp. Although, I’ve also seen 170 hp and 180 hp for this engine. The seller says that the “heat and A/C work and blow good, but A/C will need a recharge for serious summer heat. Brakes are great. Lots of power for a V6. CRUISE CONTROL!” Cruise control! Nice, this would be a fun truck to fly out to Tucson and drive home. Are there any D150 owners out there?


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  1. TriPowerVette

    I had a 1990 Dakota Convertible 4X4 5-speed for many years. I bought it with about 40,000 miles on it, and sold it with 186,000 (or so) miles. My Dakota had the same engine. At various times, I thought about a turbo and other power adders. 125 H.P. is correct. It is also (in my opinion) criminally underpowered. The only way to drive the thing is with your right foot more-or-less permanently mashed to the floor.

    I was unable to upgrade to a 318, a la Shelby, because the 4X4’s had a problem with steering box interference (amazingly, it wasn’t the oil pan that was the problem).

    @ about 186,000 miles, in spite of the best maintenance, and the fact that I had never taken it off-road (only engaged 4-wheel-drive mode twice), got nowhere near the redline in the course of my foot-to-the-floor excursions, the engine loudly broke itself while idling in my driveway. It was seized up. I thought timing chain, and removed the front cover. No such luck. It was far deeper and more malignant than a simple fix like that.

    I loved that truck, but HATED the disgraceful lack of any noticeable power.

    I still have the license plate. It says “COOL 4X4”.

    I sold it not running.

    This truck will need an immediate power upgrade to a built 360, in order to do any useful work (again, in my opinion). BTW – My convertible got 18 M.P.G. in town and about 22-23 on the road.

    Oh, and the brakes are too light to haul any real weight, either.

    In my opinion, with the dents, the truck is fairly priced. Just watch out for a really loud ‘BANG’, in a few thousand more miles. Those engines were junk from day 1.

    • mark

      You got 186,000 miles out of your truck after driving it with your right foot “mashed to the floor”…………and of course it is the trucks fault. Figures.

  2. TriPowerVette

    @mark – Thank you for your comment.

    I get high miles out of EVERY car that I keep for a while. I got nearly identical miles (mid 180’s) out of my 1986 Mazda 626 Turbo GT 5-speed. That was the last year for the 626 2-door.

    My brother works at BMW, and says it is common to have to replace the turbo at around 50,000 miles.

    On the day, I sold it, the Mazda blew ‘0’ unburned hydrocarbons at the EPA, had the original turbo, and the head had never been off! I guarantee that I drove the Mazda far more aggressively than the Dakota. With the Dakota, I was just trying to get to the speed limit, and not get run over. With the Maz, it was for the fun of it.

    The Dakota had never towed ANYTHING. I had a 1 ton Ford F350. That thing towed a 5th wheel and heavier its entire life. It had over 325,000 miles and ran like the day I got it (its previous owner was a trucker who would think nothing of jumping in it and running to New York, down to Florida and back to Arizona… more than once a month, sometimes.

    I maintain my stuff. I never pushed the Dakota even to its limits, much less past them. Besides; the transmission was so balky, that you couldn’t shift particularly aggressively (unlike most of the cars I’ve owned).

    There was NO EXCUSE for that engine blowing, other than the fact that it was junk the day it was ‘manufactured’ (slapped together). It made NO POWER, and was proud of it.

    It was the WRONG engine for a reputedly 1/2 ton truck. It is the wrong engine for this truck. The engine is just plain wrong.

    As for my statement about keeping my foot to the floor to get to the speed limit, if I tried that in nearly ANY of my other cars, the Hemi, the 427’s, the 440 Six Packs, or heck, even my 1970 Olds 98 Convertible, I would have had to constantly replace back tires, and answer to the long arm of the law. And they would have been as reliable as ever, while doing it.

    But it wasn’t necessary, was it? Because they had good power for their purpose. Unlike the Dakota 3.9 L.

  3. Nrg8

    Had the 90 Dakota 4×4 convert too. V6 5 speed was terribly sucked out. Did the V8 swap without issue. Just went and bought a 5.2 V8 AT 4×4 Dakota write off. Ordered a flywheel and clutch kit for for the V8 and the rest was straight forward. I bought it 2 years old 17k and like you disappointed. All I knew was I was going to have this one long term, and barely chirping the tires around the corner wasn’t gonna cut it. Buddy has it now still his summer runner. I guess having the same model truck for the swap helped.

  4. Matt Member

    I have an 83 that is my daily. Being in high school having a slant 6 with a three speed stick, i get made fun of. However, the others cant drive stick or work on their own cars and trucks. I did all the body work on mine and had it painted, got new rims tires, replaced all hoses. Im proud of it. The biggest issue i have with it is that old 1 barrel carb, never worry about the lean burn, as it was taken off when my father bough it 20 years ago. Gas milage is anther problem, 11 is the average mpg…

    • TriPowerVette

      @Matt – You were blessed with parents, instead of best friends or worse, strangers.

      My wife used to work at Jack-In-The-Box a long time ago. We had a 1973 Trans-Am at the time, and I had gone to great lengths to acquaint her with that little corner of the automotive world.

      One day, two high school kids pulled up in a 1978 or 1979 T/A (fairly new, at the time). She is a very social person, and just beamed at the prospect of asking them about their car. Her question was, “What engine does it have?” They replied, “I think it’s a V8”. This was stunning to her that boys didn’t know as much about cars (that they owned) as she did.

      Your knowledge will stay with you and build over the years. They have none, and will never have any, until it is too late and they breed, passing their arrogant vacuity along to the next generation.

      Be glad you had parents. It is a rare gift.

    • TriPowerVette

      @Matt –
      BTW – That slant 6 can be made to perform pretty well, with the right add-ons. Kay Sissel makes a lot of goodies for it. Look for it on the web under “6=8”. Done right, your little truck might surprise more than a few of those punks. Besides, girls always like the guy with the truck.

  5. Troy s

    Compared to Ford and GM, Dodge seemed to lag behind with their full size pick ups in terms of mechanical development back then, although they had converted to throttle body fuel injection by the very late eighties. Power got better when they came out with the Magnum engines but I’m thinking of the 318 and 360 engines, and of course the turbo Cummings diesel sure helped out a bunch. The truck posted here would be greatly helped by a newer powerplant, they can be dangerously underpowered. I learned that from experience with two similar trucks.

  6. James

    I drive daily a 99 ram 1500 4×4. It has 89 thousand miles and runs like it is new. I really like my truck and have taken care of it properly. Problem is, because I live in Western New York (about an hour from Buffalo) and they salt the roads, the frame is starting to rust. I can get another year out of it b4 it will not pass Safety Inspection. Then I will be seriously looking for an older Dodge like this one to transplant the powertrain into. This truck would benefit greatly from my V8. Don’t think I would even worry about the body work on this one, it has some dents but that adds character.

  7. john kuvik

    I bought that Truck around Feb 2018. My daily driver, work truck, I scrap metal. She hauls 1800 lbs in the bed and pulls my 18 ft dual axle car trailer loaded with appx another ton. Cant kill it. Replaced clutch, deleted all emmissions equiptment, tires X2, and brakes. Just hit 340,000. Shes a little tired so I no longer work her. To all yhe naysayers, you missed out.

    Like 1

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