Rare Diesel: 1978 Dodge D150 Adventurer

Rare isn’t usually a word that anyone would use when it comes to Dodge and diesel pickups. Cummins has been supplying diesel engines for Dodge trucks since 1989 but this one doesn’t have a Cummins diesel, it has a Mitsubishi diesel, a one-year option. This 1978 Dodge D150 Adventurer diesel pickup can be found listed here on eBay in Bountiful, Utah and the current bid price is $5,100 but the reserve isn’t met. There is also a $10,000 buy-it-now price listed.

The seller doesn’t show us too much of the passenger side but from what they do show, it appears that there’s some work to do on the right side of this half-ton Dodge pickup. There are some dents to deal with and maybe some other repairs if a person wanted to restore this rare truck, which given how few of them there are wouldn’t be the worst idea in the world. The seller does say that there is no rust in the body panels or underneath so that’s good news.

As the seller says, they guarantee that “any car show you go to you will be the only one with this truck.” This is a shortbed pickup (115″ wheelbase) but there was also a full-sized box available in the 131-inch wheelbase truck. The D150 had a 560-pound bump in payload compared to the D100 conventional cab Sweptline trucks and this one is wearing its original Bright Canyon Red paint, according to the seller. Hagerty is at $6,800 for a #4 fair condition truck and $11,900 for a #3 good condition truck, just for the record.

The Adventurer trim can barely be seen on the bottom of the dash and it’s a little fancier than the Custom line. There are no photos from the driver’s side and it appears that there’s some tearing on the plaid seat fabric on that side but the passenger side looks ok. This one has a replacement radio and rear bumper, otherwise, it’s original, according to the seller. You can see the manual transmission but we don’t know if it’s a three-speed or four-speed manual. I’m assuming it’s a three-speed as a four-speed was optional but that’s just a guess.

This is an interesting truck even without the Mitsubishi 6DR5 243 cubic-inch inline-six diesel engine. This optional engine had a mere 105 horsepower and 169 lb-ft of torque at 2,200 RPM. The seller acknowledges the lack of power, saying that this truck “runs and drives great besides the lack of power the motor puts out so it’s great for country and city roads just not the freeways”. This is the exact vehicle that excites and interests me – something different, something with a one-year-only optional engine. The manual transmission, no rust, and short bed seal the deal. If my IRAs weren’t losing more per month than I made per year 25 years ago, I’d be all over this one. Have you heard of a Mitsubishi diesel in a Dodge pickup?


  1. Howard A Member

    Why would Dodge put a slug of a motor like this in a pickup? I’ve driven dozens of underpowered trucks in my life, so that qualifies me to make that statement. Let’s go back, shall we? America was just beginning to feel the pinch of high fuel prices, and typically, diesel was like half the price of gas. The most logical stop gap measure was to jump on the “diesel” bandwagon. Diesel choices were very limited then, and this was the result. The up side, it would get better mileage, but just the wrong application. I went ’round and ’round with bosses, who spec’d trucks with small motors, thinking better mileage, but what happened, is they had to work too hard, offsetting any fuel economy, and burning them out prematurely. But, that’s a boss, for ya’.
    Obviously, a swing and a miss, and something needed to be done, ta-da,,Cummins saved the day. Not so much in fuel economy, but put power back in the operators right foot, what truck buyers wanted all along.
    This is a good find, for the truck proper. Before Cummins, Dodge was not very popular, old men mostly, and today, with diesel more expensive, even a “Slanty” would be more civilized. I read, these only came with a compound ( granny) 4 speed or automatic, and I always got a kick out of Dodge shift levers, and with this motor, you’ll be using it a lot.

    Like 11
    • OzyJohn

      It’s a TRUCK! not a race car. Diesels are designed to be workhorses. Yes, they were slow in times gone by, but I speak from experience when I say I own a Hyundai i40 wagon and it gets me around town very nicely at 6.5/100 and Hwy driving at 4.7/100.
      And let me say, ya don’t need more speed than it can produce. Yes, that’s one make and model, but the economy far out ways the price of diesel.

      Like 2
  2. alphasud Member

    I have seen a couple over the years with this engine combination. More of a marketing exercise maybe or to satisfy a special fleet request for a company. I kind of remember they might have been sent to a vendor where the engine was installed.

    Like 3
  3. Tony Primo

    Yeah Scotty, my retirement funds are tanking too, Might be able to retire by age 75 years old now. This pickup might be more stable than my investments.

    Like 7
  4. Scotty Gilbertson Staff

    Dang, someone must have grabbed it, the seller ended the auction.

    Like 3
  5. Bamapoppy

    The only one with “this” truck? Really? Amazing!

  6. Wolf

    Actually worked on a couple these slugs when I was at the dealership. They were underpowered from the start.

    Like 2
  7. Joe Haska

    I never new about these trucks and the diesel power. I would love to have the truck and I would keep the powerplant, I just wouldn’t keep it in the truck.

    Like 4
  8. Jack

    As I remember they were Perkins engines in these trucks.

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