Disclosure: This site may receive compensation when you click on some links and make purchases.

Pristine Prospector: 1985 Dodge Long Bed Pickup

One of the problems we currently have in this great country is that new pickup truck prices are skyrocketing.  Even at these inflated prices, finding a new pickup to purchase can be a challenge.   There are alternatives if you are willing to go old school.  If you are looking for a reliable and well-cared-for pickup, then take a look at this 1985 Dodge long bed pickup for sale on craigslist in sunny La Habra, California.  Obviously well cared for, this loaded and pampered pickup has just 96,000 original miles on the odometer and has never been used commercially.  Is $13,950 too high a price?  Is it ethical to make this truck a daily driver again?  Thanks go to T.J. for this minty tip!

The truck market is absolutely insane right now.  The chip shortage has negatively impacted production, and the post-COVID world just can’t seem to get the manufacture of spare parts back on track.  If you are using a truck for business, a wreck can cause a significant loss of income until either a replacement truck or replacement parts are secured.  If time is money for you, then some unconventional options exist.

One such option would be to purchase a much older pickup.  Most trucks live hard lives and end up as razor blades and soup cans at some point.  Others, mainly “old man trucks,” end up being sold as used vehicles to some lucky person and also end up used and abused.  Some, mainly short bed and step side trucks in good condition, end up as collectibles and are seen at your local car shows.  Used long beds have a much higher chance of being used commercially because of their usefulness and they generally are sold at a lower price.  Nobody wants to back a long bed into a tight spot at a car show.

This 1985 Dodge Prospector long bed is a great example of what is available if you look around.  This truck is described by the seller as being in “as new” condition.  The story is that it was always serviced and “respectfully looked after.”  With just 96,000 miles on the odometer, the truck has just gone through a transmission replacement.  Most likely this was due to the transmission going bad while sitting for an extended period of time.  Torque Flights can lose reverse and high gear if left sitting.  Ask me how I learned that lesson.

We are told that this truck has never been used as a work truck and that the interior and the bed liner are immaculate.  The seller also believes that the beige metallic paint is original to the vehicle. This truck was well optioned, with some of the major additions being power steering, power brakes, air conditioning, stereo radio, cruise control, and a 30-gallon fuel tank.

Under the hood is Chrysler’s reliable but thirsty 360 cubic inch V-8.  As you can see in the photo, the power brake booster and alternator have been replaced and a new battery has been installed.  The seller brags that the truck drives beautifully and has no suspension rattles.  Considering that this is the same drivetrain Chrysler used in the Fifth Avenue (with a 318 cubic inch engine), then the car-like driving description is not hard to understand. While it would seem a shame to wear this time capsule truck out, people have to do what is necessary to survive in these crazy times.  The components of this truck are durable, and there seem to be many years of service left on them.  It will eat a lot of gas and won’t have all of the fancy tech gadgets of a new truck.  It will, however, help its owner put food on the table.

Do you think it is wrong to put a pristine truck like this back into service?  Let us know in the comments.


  1. Cadmanls Member

    Those running boards used to go on pickups all the time. Haven’t seen a set in a long time. Truck looks very clean and as Jeff mentioned this could be a cheap truck to use. It might be a shame to use it as it’s survived this long, newer truck prices might justify the purchase.

    Like 6
  2. Howard A Member

    A little history on these. I read, 1981 was the 1st Dodge RAM, an Iococca idea. Still, Dodge played 3rd fiddle( or less with imports) and these were relatively unheard of. Old men or farmers bought Dodges when they couldn’t get IH anymore. Then, in 1989, EVERYTHING changed, with the Cummins diesel. Suddenly, Dodge was on top of the heap, just that name, Dodge, like Rambler, or Studebaker,,gotta go, and in 2009, just became RAM. I think RAM has just about run out of steam with the design they have now, over 30 years old. The fact these weren’t so popular is actually a plus. As shown, most those old guys took care of their trucks, unlike Ford or Chevys that got trashed. Throw the person $10gs, can’t go wrong here.

    Like 4
    • Shawn

      A lot of good points Howard and you’re spot on about the Iococca giving the truck the Ram name with the refresh. 81-93 Rams live in this weird overlap zone of being the 3rd Gen D/W Dodge Truck, and the 1st Gen Ram. While I’d agree with you on the Cummins from a real truck user standpoint, I’d say Ram didn’t really attract the general buyers and take off until the 1994 “Big Rig” restyle. The 1st Gen Rams just look too much like SquareBody Chevys, but of course that’s exactly what they were suppose to do. Even to this day when I see a 1st Gen on the road, it takes me a few seconds to realize it’s not a Chevy. Like you mentioned though, these sold in substantially lower numbers than their competition, so seeing one 30 years later on the road or at a car show is quite a treat.

      Like 4
      • bone

        Since the Dodges square style came out in 1972 and the Chevys in 1973, wouldn’t you say the Chevys were looking like the Dodges ?

        Like 4
  3. Gunner

    As much as many of us love these older trucks, they are not practical unless you are talking about a pleasure vehicle. A V-8, or even a Six in some cases, that is carbureted, is going to want to frequently stop at the local gas station for a fill up. This can become quite expensive, and for most of us, not affordable. 13K and change is a roll of dough that would go a long way to something more that has a higher MPG number. I agree that new trucks are just ridiculously priced and not realistically feasible for many of us, including myself. I am happy with a truck that gets decent mileage and is paid for. Sometimes you just need to ask yourself is it something I need, or want.

    Like 6
    • Howard A Member

      Spot on, Gunner. As the owner of a vintage “carburetted” truck, it’s easy to forget the quirks F.I. has eliminated from our lives. That GD choke, probably responsible for wasting more gas than NASCAR( just kidding) I don’t think mileage on this is any worse than what is offered today, but you do gain the simplicity with these. If it started yesterday, there’s a 99% chance it will start today. My Jeep, I still hold my breath until its running. The whole downside to this truck, for most people today, its horribly out of date, and the folks that would want it are dying off, as in the case here, I’m sure. What, nobody in the family wants dads truck? That they probably bounced on the seat as a toddler? For shame!

      Like 3
    • wally Sabourin

      not only really expensive to drive in the city but just try and get that thing through the commiefornia smog I have a 92 and had an 86 and you have to buy 3 or 4 computers IF you can find them and keep them spare …I have one in a drawer that I swap in just for the smog test

      Like 0
    • Elroythekid

      My square is going to get a little newer set of vortec heads and an edelbrock FI setup. Have a friend did that on a Camaro and it’s a WORLD of difference. The edelbrock is the better system it comes with a distributor also that the ecm controls, unlike the holley sniper.

      Like 0
  4. karl

    I’ve been squinting at the photos , but I cant see if its a half ton or 3/4 ton truck , and its not listed. I’m thinking half ton with those full hubcaps

    Like 1
    • Michael Berkemeier

      Hey Karl, I’m thinking 3/4-ton, those are fairly large wheels and tires.

      Like 2
  5. Troy

    I miss the old trucks like this, where you can put a stack of 4X8 sheets of plywood in the back and shut the tailgate couple bags of cement or some cement blocks on top and drive home with no straps and not worried its going through the windshield of the car behind you, I’m still driving my 93 F150 with the 8 foot bed

    Like 4
  6. Chuck

    Still have my ’84 Ram I bought new in 1984. Just now need to rebuild the transmission. Has a but over 300K on it and no rust. Gonna rebuild the transmission and carb and keep driving.

    Like 7
    • Seth

      No rust means you live in a dry state. Usual rust spot is under drivers feet. If you are light on the gas pedal 10 to 12 mpg. It will be better than the 4 wheel dive. Step hard on the pedal and it will drop. Not a daily driver fuel economy

      Like 1
      • Bolivar Shagnasty

        Some, like me, are not concerned with mpg. I drive my El Camino daily.. when i need to haul something heavy I jump in the HD2500. If you can’t afford gas.. be sure and thank Brandon.

        Like 6
  7. George Birth

    This one looks to be worth every penny. Compared to today’s prices this one is a beauty.

    Like 2
  8. George Birth

    This one is a real beauty!!!

    Like 1
  9. Dennis

    I owned a carbureted 85 Dodge D150 with a 318 engine. That carburetor gave me nothing but trouble and took it to several mechanics and nobody could get it right. In winter I had to jam my snow brush down on the accelerator and let it run for ten minutes before I could go. Otherwise it would stall out immediately until it was warmed up

    Like 0
    • DON

      I had similar issues with my 86 D250 ; I ended up replacing the carb and that was the end of the problems

      Like 0
  10. Pete

    I personally would like to get my hands on a Dodge M-880. I could not get that thing stuck. The Chevy CuCV if it saw mud it would get stuck. I would use the old 880 to drag my car trailer to car shows. That or a Bug Out vehicle should it come to that.

    Like 0

Leave A Comment

RULES: No profanity, politics, or personal attacks.

Become a member to add images to your comments.


Get new comment updates via email. Or subscribe without commenting.