Overheated & Restored: 1984 Dodge Ram 50

Jeff LaveryBy Jeff Lavery

Not too long ago, Barn Finds writer Scotty G. found a Dodge D50 Sport near his homebase in Minnesota. That truck was a great find, with a clean body and awesome period graphics running down the side. Well, another survivor-grade D50 has shown up, also known as the Ram 50: this one here on eBay was acquired by the seller after long-time family ownership that ultimately failed to notice they overheated it after the radiator failed. 

How exactly does that happen? Well, more to the point, the seller claims this Ram still had its original coolant in the tank! If that’s true, it makes you wonder how else this little Ram was neglected. Truth be told, however, I can see it happening. My folks are older and long-time original owners of a 1997 CR-V that hardly gets driven anymore; I had to point out to them that the radiator had let go and coolant was pouring on the floor! Thankfully, this Ram’s California location has seemingly protected it from catastrophic rust.

Despite the original family owners missing the telltale signs of a failed radiator, they did strive to take care of the rest of the D50. The interior is immaculate, along with the body. To address the mechanical woes of the previous owners, the seller has tackled a boatload of maintenance. Given the Dodge’s shared heritage with the Mitsubishi Mighty Max lineup, this little Ram should provide years of reliable performance – especially with only 36,000 miles from new!

According to the seller: “I completely removed the engine and rebuilt it with all new OEM parts. Cylinders were bored up .010 and all new pistons,rings bearings and head were installed. No detail was overlooked.” It certainly seems like all the hard work has been done, and the seller claims it passes smog easily. Now, if you want it, all you have to do is place an opening bid of $2,400 – and keep an eye on the guy from Minnesota.

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Comments

  1. ron tyrrell

    When these were new either with the 2.2 or 2.6 they had a cracked head issues and the head was so expensive you could get used engines from Japan cheaper than fixing the head. Wholesale Engine in Tacoma sold these engines as I remember for less than 200 bucks. So I am not surprised it is over heating, pretty common thing with this truck

    5+
    • Dave Wright

      What are the odds that the radiator failed and not the head gasket or water pump………it is pretty tough to screw up a radiator, usually something else takes it out. Why would it need bored, pistons and the like at 36,000 miles? It must have been so hot as to score the cylinders. These are good looking little trucks with soft mechanicals from new. In LA it was K Wantanabe that sold the imported engines, they were a great deal. Mark……over 100,000……if it was a Toyota, it would be over 500,000 and I am not an oriental car guy.

      7+
      • Mike

        The water got in the oil and the cylinder was .002 out of round so to bring back to spec I overhauled completely. Owners left paper trail of maintance so it was not neglected till son drove it which was not long……

        2+
      • Dave Wright

        Mike……..Water gets in oil via a blown head gasket or a cracked head, not a bad radiator. Water and oil in a cylinder will not cause it to go out of round either. It either has a lot more miles on it or it got really hot or both. So hot it.softened and deform the cylinder.

        5+
      • Mike

        Yes sir Dave, The radiator was the start. The overheating cracked the head.The head was cracked which cause the oil in water. I put a new genuine mitsubishi head. New oem water pump even.

        2+
    • Mike

      You don’t know what you are talking about, these trucks never came with a 2.2

      0
    • Don

      Thats not true. They overheat when people who do not understand maintenance drive them for years and many miles with not doing anything………. There are still many on the road and toyotas will do the same thing if you neglect them

      0
  2. mark

    My Dad had one of these for years. He has since given it to another family member. Base model with a 4 speed. Great daily driver. The last I knew it had way over a hundred thousand miles and was still going strong although it does have some rust issues.

    1+
  3. LAB3

    Had one of these I used as a hauler, bought it for $400. Cut and moved a whole winter’s worth of oak firewood with it! It squatted and strained but never gave up, got rid of it when the door linkages gave out and had to climb through the window opening to get in and out. Sold it to a high school kid who monkeyed with it and drove it a couple more years, gotta give it some respect for how long it lasted.

    2+
  4. sparkster

    A buddy had one these with a 2.6 engine at work. He kept telling he’d kick my 1981 Toyota’s ass in a drag race. One day after work I said” bring it on”. No match , smoked him off the line and never looked back. Love those 22r engines

    2+
  5. Wilbur Burns

    Had a mitsubishi pickup in high school, the same truck as this. The 2.6 lasted less than 6 months before overheating and blowing the engine. I remember my mechanic telling me the cylinder walls were too thin, a cheaply built engine to start with, and I think a faulty oil pump. I asked what was the best option for repair, he said drop in a toyota 22r or chunk the truck. I rebuilt the 2.6 and had overheating trouble until I flipped it into a creek 2 years later. As a throwaway teenager first vehicle, it was ok. Beyond that, no thanks.

    6+
    • Mike

      Your one of the few who disagree with the 2.6 engines. Ive had 3 and never overheated a single one.

      1+
  6. gene

    Still driving my ’86 Mighty Max with 2.0l engine and 5 speed, never any issues in 25 years, except front fender rust, but it’s never seen inside of a garage or barn.

    4+
  7. C Carl

    My first new vehicle was also an 86 Mighty Max, 2.0, 5sp and it was a winner. Not as fast as a Toyota, not the best mpg but it was better looking than other mini trucks and it lasted 190k miles before I passed it off to my sister. $5995.
    Good times.

    2+
  8. Scotty Gilbertson Scotty Staff

    Nice!

    I need that air cleaner assembly, mine has the funky, rectangular, Weber air cleaner and I want it to at least look original.

    1+
  9. steve

    I alwarys liked that body style better than its contemporaries.

    2+
    • Ralph Robichaud

      Love my 1980 Plymouth Arrow p/u. with no power options whatsoever.’ just a 2.0 engine and manual tranny..
      A real trooper, runs like a new unit with over 80K on it

      6+
  10. Steve

    I had one with the turbo diesel, and that truck was AWESOME. With tinted windows the AC got so cold in the middle of Florida summer you could see your breath.

    0

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