Diesel Mitsu: 1984 Dodge D-50

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Jeff LaveryBy Jeff Lavery

The original Mitsubishi Mighty Max / Dodge D-50 twins were among my favorite 4WD pickups in the 1980s and still a truck I’d like to own today. Why? Because they represented an era where you could buy a 4WD truck that wasn’t as long as your house (or require a monthly payment approaching most peoples’ mortgages). This Dodge D-50 here on eBay is a rare bird, as not many of these pickups are left – and even fewer with a diesel engine and manual transmission. 

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For 269,000 miles, that interior has held up incredibly well. The seller says that the driver’s seat is not original but who cares? Everything else looks pretty good. And simple, too, thanks to the crank windows and likely manual-everything. The list goes on to include manual locking hubs and a 5-speed stick which likely indicate that this Dodge D-50 has gone anywhere it wanted to go, racking up some miles in the process.

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The 4D55 diesel powerplant has a mere 10,000 miles on it since a rebuild by the seller. The work includes completely new pistons, rings, bearings, sleeves, gaskets, seals, and a resurfaced head. Combined with nearly new tires and the impressive cosmetic condition and you have a truck you’ll enjoy racking up the miles in while pulling down 30 MPGs.

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The reserve hasn’t been met with four days left, but I suspect this truck will sail past its minimum price. Why? Well, it’s for the reasons above and then some: they aren’t making trucks like this any more, and there are only a few left with the right options that haven’t succumbed to rust. Someone out there wants this Mitsubishi / Dodge pickup and it will likely serve them well for years to come.

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Comments

  1. Scotty G

    Dang, that is a rare one, nice find! This era is really going to be the next big thing, of course, not 911 / 356 big, but surprisingly big since none of us ever thought that these vehicles would be collectible.

    What are the vents on the rear part of the headliner? I was assuming that was the AC but there isn’t AC on this truck.

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  2. Bob's your uncle

    I had the next version of that truck, and it also had some odd-ball vents but in the newer version they were part of trim on what I guess you’d call the b-pillar. I always understood they were intended to vent the cabin if you slammed the door, given a small cab space and otherwise tight sealing. Maybe those odd vents in the subject truck have a similar function?

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    • Bobsmyuncle

      Good guess but I don’t think so. All modern cars have those exhaust vents because of the tight fitting seals, and even a high volume SUV doesn’t have that much ventilation.

      I hope someone knows, my curiosity is piqued!

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  3. Howard A Member

    Diesel will be the downfall. Gas job, people would be all over this, but many have scary memories of Oldsmobile and VW ( although both, when properly maintained, were great engines) and diesel is traditionally higher than gas ( Remember when it was t’other way ’round?) Remember, with a vehicle with this many miles, there will issues, electrical, mostly. These were good little trucks.

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    • Dan10

      Given that this truck is manual everything I doubt there will be little if any electrical issues. With a fresh engine rebuild, the only item of concern would be the suspension and that will most likely be an easy and inexpensive job.

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  4. Bobsmyuncle

    Great find, I’d love to find this thing local.

    But something tells me a single winter in the snow belt would have this thing rotting away.

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    • Ralph Robichaud

      Not really so- I have a 1980 Plymouth Arrow pick-up (Mitsu-of course) – a bare bone unit with 2.0 L engine, 4 speed manual, infact manual everything. About 90,000 miles, mostly all original paint, original bench seat in good shape. Undercoating, yes, yes, and yes. And surprisingly, it easily keeps up with traffic on the motorways… will run all day at 80+mph. I don’t do it when windy, not that stable in heavy crosswinds, but still a lot better than a VW bus. Road and wind noise are the major deterrents to long distance travel.

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    • Lester Aptley

      My friend’s father bought a 1984 Mitsubishi pickup like this one. Two tone red/white/manual trans.

      Bought it new in Connecticut.

      After a year, the paint was peeling from the outer rocker panels.

      Within two years, there was outer body rust through, mainly because the Mitsubishi dealer refused to do anything about the paint falling off in the first year because it wasn’t “outer body rust through.”

      Yes, this thing would be a typical 80s Japanese rustbucket in the Northeast.

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  5. Dan

    You really have to check these trucks for rust of the frame. It has a boxed frame that is very strong but the moisture gets trapped in them and rots. I had one and it was a great little truck until it rusted away.

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    • Ralph Robichaud

      Another truly remarkable thing about these little truck, they don’t have an imposing look, nor look all that rugged, but they’ll carry a payload of 1600 lbs.
      I know I loaded mine with concrete slab pavers. 32 of then at 48-50lbs per.
      talk about ass draggin!

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  6. JoeT

    Good small trucks but a little tinny. Check the transmission for whining noises in 5th or jumping out of gear. (I owned an 85 “Power Ram 50” 4×4 from new. It was the 2.6l gas engine which was very reliable. The 5 speed manual was another story altogether. The transmission started making a whining noise at about 15000 miles but the dealer’s service manager insisted they all did it. While returning from a cross country trip late one evening the transmission started howling so loud it nearly drowned out the wind and tire noise on the highway. I took it to the dealer the following day and they announced it needed a new transmission at 24,532 miles/ 2years (24,000 mile warranty). When I brought up the noise reported at 15,000 miles they said they had no record of the complaint in their service record (The service manager had never written up the job after the test drive). Cost me $1,200 out of pocket to have the transmission rebuilt and that failed less than a year later. I repaired it myself after that and sold it after 4 years of ownership. The last I heard from the buyer, it was still going strong after more that 100,000 miles and a head on with a deer. (Smittybuilt front bumper /bull guard I installed saved the front sheet metal).

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  7. chad

    they all had a lill diesel those yrs (luv, corrier, this 1).
    Japanese had the chicken tax so….

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