Santa Fe Railroader: 1962 Dodge D300 Pickup

I was a railroad worker for many years and in spite of that, I never liked the hammed-up tune, “I’ve Been Working on the Railroad.” Today’s Barn Find, a 1962 Dodge D300, has been working on the railroad too, no word regarding how it feels about that old song. I guess it doesn’t matter because it’s now retired, residing in Lancaster, California and available here on craigslist for $3,500. Thanks to Ikey H. for this tip!

As the seller informs us and the not too legible logos on the doors indicates, this Dodge, at one time, belonged to the Santa Fe Railway, better known as the Atchinson, Topeka and Sante Fe Railway which today is known as BNSF Railway and is part of Warren Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway fund. That’s the railroad lesson for today.

Railroad life is really hard on vehicles. They are maintained well but expected to do things frequently they were never designed to do; mishaps run aplenty. This D300, however, looks like quite the survivor. It has the “P” word going on (Patina) and it was either photographed wet or has had its “P” clear-coated. The body is in pretty good shape overall but there is some invasive rust in both doors that should be attended to at some point. The body is surprisingly straight which tells me that it hasn’t crossed the tracks too many times in places where there isn’t a grade crossing (which is where you are supposed to cross them). This Dodge’s most useful feature is probably its nine-foot bed equipped with a liftgate. Speaking of the bed, it has a bit of a “Beverly Hillbillies” vibe going on with the two attached benches but the seller says that they are not part of the sale.

Under the sunbaked hood is an oldie but a goodie, a Mopar 225 “Slant-Six” inline motor capable of 140 gross HP. Power to the rear wheels is courtesy of a four-speed manual transmission. As the seller observes, ” It’s slow but lots of fun to drive”. I’ll take that to mean it runs OK.

Moving inside, what you see is what you get and that’s generally the case with a truck of this era. The seat has some sort of a discount auto parts store cover (can you even get those anymore?) and a period-correct steering wheel spinner, fortunately, a “G” rated one and not like those sometimes seen at car shows on deuce coupes and the like. The bare floor, which probably had a rubber mat at one time, is, well, bare but you can see that it looks intact. The door cards are surprisingly clean and there may or may not have been a headliner at one-time. I can assure you that “quiet operation” was not a planned trait for a truck like this in 1962.

This Dodge is a bit of a conundrum, probably too big and slow for the kinds of things that most of us “retail” truckers would use a truck for and probably too light-weight and just plain old for any serious commercial activity. One thought is that it could be very useful as a prop or an ad for a business. Nevertheless, it’s pretty neat and the fact that it’s a more rarely seen Dodge as opposed to the ubiquitous Chevy or Ford adds to the interest level too. I like it, I’m just not sure what I would do with it. How about you, how can you see yourself using this retired railroad worker?

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  1. geomechs geomechs Member

    You sure don’t see these around anymore. Come to think about it, I don’t remember seeing many of these back in the day. Any 1-tons were dualies with stake beds or grain boxes. Going to be rough so better wear a helmet or buckle in tight. Seeing a Slant Six under the hood is not what I would expect to see in one of these; I would more likely see a 318 Poly-head engine but this goes to show that the six was available in everything. Those wheels look like 16.5 which were rarer than the truck itself. I remember seeing some 3/4 and 1-ton trucks with 9.50×16.5 tires toward the end of the 60s. My dad’s 3/4 ton Binder had those which he changed wheels and tires over to 7.50×16 when he found out how much replacement tires cost. Overall it looks like something that could be restored and put back to work. But like I said, it’s not going to give you that jet-smooth boulevard ride…

    • Daniel G Rawinsky

      I too worked on a RR. Louisiana Steam Train Association. We rebuilt X745, a 1921 Baldwin, built by Southern Pacific in Algiers, New Orleans, LA in March, 1921. Retired to Autabon Zoo in 1956, removed from the zoo in 1984. Rebuilt in 2000 and was in service until 2018 when the super heater tubes needed to be replaced. Check out the website: . We laid out own tracks, worked on the cars and whatever. I was a whatever until I finally made fireman. I did that for too many years and inhaled too much smoke and gave it up. 745 was in the movie .

    • Tom Chaapel

      I have one of these trucks. Mines a 65 D-300 with the nine foot box. Have had it for over twenty years. Still love it.

  2. Howard A Member

    More like left in the desert sun for a few decades. It seemed, the only people that bought these, were either government institutions, or railroads. The general public didn’t go for these, not sure why. I think I saw more Studebaker pickups, well, they sure turned that around. I wanted an older pickup like this before I got my ’77 GMC, but you know, that GMC is still a darn nice truck. This would be a nightmare to drive any distance. Don’t believe me? Buy one of these, and let me know how that works out for you. I thought the “300” had dual wheels and spokes too.

    • geomechs geomechs Member

      GM really had an edge, even back then. A 1-ton ran independent front suspension and some models even had coils in the rear. They rode smooth, even as tonners. So many other trucks had teeth marks in the steering wheel from the drivers getting bounced into them…

      • Howard A Member

        I believe Dodge was the last holdout with a solid front axle. Ford had the Twin I beam in ’65 and Dodge used the straight axle until at least ’68.

      • Daniel G Rawinsky

        My 1971 IH 1310 has an I beam with king pin FA.

  3. Nevadahalfrack Nevadahalfrack Member

    And now the big question-would you take the spinner off the steering wheel? This LOOKS to be in decent shape, Lancaster’s afternoon daily dust storm notwithstanding..but it also looks like a clear coat was laid on recently! Too shiny for a real “survivor” desert truck.

    • geomechs geomechs Member

      I know a few guys who broke their wrists with those spinners. Never liked them myself but I was only one person…

    • Howard A Member

      I think those “suicide knobs” are illegal in some places, or a cop may hassle you about it. I never cared for them, except on a farm tractor.

  4. Kevin Culvet

    Flatbed? Looks like a stepside to me. Otherwise a good article. Keep up the good work.

  5. 370Zpp

    Curious. This one might have also seen “high-rail” use for patrolling (on) the tracks back in the day.

  6. Gaspumpchas

    LMAO we used to call the spinners “Necker Knobs”. You could keep your arm around your girl and steer. That leaning tower of power would have gobs of torque hooked up to that 4 speed granny gearbox. 370zpp, I don’t see any sign that this had Hyrail gear on it, but that could have been taken off a long time ago and the rims and tires changed. Fresh paint and a properly reproduced door logo would make this beauty shine. 9 foot bed, room for lots of ties and spikes!

  7. F Again

    That bench is a work of pure genius, meant to reside in a shady spot, the shade provided by a car hood used as a porch roof.

  8. JOHN Member

    I get that there are so many attracted by patina, but by applying a gloss clear you are pretty much taking away the patina effect in my opinion. If you want to preserve it, at least use a matte finish. Gloss rust just doesn’t cut it.

    • William Parker

      Yes while not my favorite appearance the clear coated patina is “in” but for goodness sakes make it satin. (Don’t know that actual flat clear would preserve it that much?)

  9. Del

    Buy it for the body. Drop it on a newer Powrer Wagon frame and drive train

  10. Don H

    I really like the Chevy bench ‘may just make one like that ,the trucks ok to.

  11. Eric

    Only one pic shows it being glossy, so either that one photo was taken with it wet or they cleared it after taking some photos of it raw. Hopefully it’s just wet. Sounds like a deal to me, but of course it’s out west. I need to move.

  12. Wayne

    This is perfect for “short runs to the hardware store or lumber yard providing there are smooth roads in your meighborhood. ( when I originally typed this lumber came out lumper yard which is where you might think you went if you don’t have smooth roads!) cool old truck. I thought high rail also. But tough to have with a non-rail style lift gate. If the life gate works, it would definitely be handy and the weight would help with the ride somewhat. Even with the “leaning tower of power” engine. This is an 8 to 10 mpg vehicle. Which is probably why this truck has survived. Poor fuel economy, terrible ride make no fun for just normal use. “Real truck use only!”

  13. Al Kress Member

    I was in the vending machine/ jukebox business and this truck would be great with that liftgate. In addition it has a large liftgate
    platform so great for pool tables.

  14. Glenn Schwass Member

    As a ex- railroad engineer , conductor, and presently just a railfan, this is really nice. You just don’t see old Mopars, but I’m in Philly and RR trucks are ridden hard, abused, & never washed which makes this truly amazing. I hope it goes to someone who appreciates it for both..

  15. BR

    FYI: A single share of Warren’s charge is worth $342,775.00. I’d rather have one of those.

  16. stillrunners Stillrunners Member

    Priced right….didn’t Lassie ride around in a 1 ton stepside ?

  17. Mountainwoodie

    Look, this is a truck for a real man.

    If I didnt already have a half a real man’s truck in the shed I’d be all over this. All I want it for is to drive to the store and piss off all the 60 K heated seats suburbanite F150’s hogging the road. And that lift gate, hell you can make some coin hauling junk and look like junk too :)

    Can’t beat it with a stick

    Where does that liftgate reside while driving?

  18. TimM

    A good friend of mine has one of these restored and it is a fine looking truck but as so many of you say it drives like a lumber wagon!! Crazy torque but would bounce you out of the cab if there wasn’t a door there to keep you in!! Still over all a cool body style with great early sixties written all over it!!!

  19. Thomas Chaapel

    I have one too. That’s about the fourth one I’ve seen in over twenty years.

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