Every car guy can remember his first drive, and the day they took the test for that all-important driver’s license, but few of us can walk out to the garage and get in the very vehicle that we used for both occasions. Robin Bates is among the lucky ones that still has that first truck. It all began in the early ’70s when Robin’s dad purchased a used ’65 Dodge Utiline (a.k.a. Stepside) truck from the Georgia Department of Agriculture. Robin was 13 at the time and learned to drive behind the wheel of the Dodge. A few years later he took the driver’s test, got his license and became the official owner of the truck. It should be noted this truck was one of the last D100s produced with the early style grille; Dodge would change the front sheet metal in the spring 1965.
As fate would have it, a friend of his had a ’69 Road Runner and he was removing the 383 in favor of a 440 motor. Robin ended up with the 383 and Torqueflite tranny. The old slant six and three-on-the-tree was removed and the Road Runner 383 was transplanted in the old truck. For Robin’s junior year in high school the truck was driven with the 383 and the original faded green paint, a true sleeper that surprised more than one unsuspecting muscle car driver. As a graduation present Robin’s dad had the truck painted along with black rolled and pleated upholstery for the seat, so the truck was finally “finished”.
Robin continued to use the truck as a daily driver and then as the years passed it was more of an occasional driver. That 1980 high school paintjob was wearing thin, and he had a vision to bring the truck to a higher level. By now he had opened an automotive paint distribution business and his contacts with friends and business associates made the process easy, but this time it would start from the ground up.
Starting with the chassis, the front suspension was replaced with a Fatman Stage III front suspension while out back the Chrysler rearend was located with a No Limit Fat Bar system that incorporates large long bars and QA1 coilover shocks. All this rolls around on Billet Specialties Bullet wheels that measure 18x8 up front and a massive 20x10 inches in the rear. The Goodyear tire sizes are 245/45R18 up front with big 265/50R20 found out back.
This 383 was originally found under the hood of a ’69 Road Runner but it has been powering
After twenty years of “spirited driving” the 383 was ready for a freshening up so Lance Fugate turned the crank 0.010-over and bored the block 0.030-over and filled it with new pistons, with Comp Cams components moving the valves. Final assembly uses stock finishes with factory orange paint and the original breather in use. The Edelbrock intake remains as-cast and the March pulley system is brushed, giving the engine bay a very factory muscle car look. That same 1969 727 Torqueflite transmission was rebuilt and connected to the motor before being installed in the fresh chassis. The B&M Quick Silver shifter was also returned to service.
Dodge truck bodies have some unique stampings that add strength to the body panels such as
Engine swaps are a little easier when you don’t have to remove the hood. The vertical open
The custom fabricated stainless steel gauge cluster holds Auto Meter gauges, while Vintage
That seat was originally upholstered over thirty years ago and it still looks pretty good.
Expanded inner wheel houses are the only modification to the Dodge bed, while fresh wood a