First Gen Dodge D350
A Crew Cab Dodge Packing An Allison, Air-Ride, And Late-Model Interior
In less than a year, Chris Ohl purchased a First Gen Cummins-powered ’82 Dodge D350, tore it down to a bare frame, and rebuilt it to his liking. In the process, he put together the first-gen dually he’d always wanted. A fresh 12-valve 5.9L Cummins sits under the hood and is ready for a million miles of service. It’s backed by an Allison transmission that has been prepped to do the same. For heavy hauling, the rear suspension is four-linked and bagged. And for utmost comfort in the four-door cab, fourth-gen leather (and power) seats provide a plush ride. It’s a fully functional, old-school dually that was built to tow anything, anywhere—and do it in style.
With an unknown history behind the P-pumped 12-valve that was in the truck when he bought it, Chris erred on the side of playing it safe and replaced the Cummins with the one he had sitting in the corner of the shop. First, however, the ’93 model year 5.9L took a ride to Scheid Diesel for a complete rebuild. From the oil pan to the one-piece, billet aluminum valve cover-up top, the overhaul featured a mix of factory parts and aftermarket upgrades. The block was machined to accept fire rings, the forged-steel factory rods were shot-peened, graced with ARP rod bolts, and topped off with stock compression, cast-aluminum Mahle pistons. Scheid improved the valvetrain with one of its street cams, heavy-duty pushrods, and stiffer valve springs.
Benched VE & 5x13s
Sticking with the Bosch VE pump, Chris had the folks at Scheid Diesel treat it to a refresh as well as several fueling tweaks. The 12mm rotary pump now sports a modified fuel pin, makes use of a 4,000-rpm governor spring kit, and sends fuel to a set of Scheid’s Lightning injectors. Each injector is fitted with a 5x.013-inch nozzle, which is conservative enough to tow with but serious enough to get the truck into the 400hp range. A 100-gph Air Dog II low-pressure fuel supply system routes diesel through ½-inch lines and maintains ample pressure for the VE pump.
Ushering the old-school Dodge into the modern era, a six-speed Allison 1000 is mated to the First Gen 5.9L Cummins. Sourced from Custom Automatic Conversions, the commercial-grade automatic uses a billet torque converter and benefits from a 10.5-quart Mag-Hytec deep pan. The Allison is also kept cool thanks to a 40-row, Derale Performance Hyper-Cool Extreme auxiliary transmission cooler mounted along the passenger side frame rail. Dash-mounted buttons in the cab control the Allison’s Tow/Haul mode and Overdrive lockout.
Bombproof Dana 80
Every tow rig’s most important component is arguably the rear axle. Knowing he would usually have a trailer behind him, Chris contacted East Coast Gear Supply for one of the strongest Dana 80s on the market. The axle has been beefed up with a ½-inch wall, 4-3/8-inch diameter axle tubes, 40-spline axle shafts, and an ARB air locker. It also utilizes 4.10 gears, which with the double overdrive of the Allison transmission provides low cruising rpm. The Dana 80 also wears a layer of bed liner coating that Chris applied before installing it.
Air Ride Rear Suspension & Brand-New IFS Relying on names like Kelderman, Far From Stock, and Wide Open Designs, and thanks to his own homegrown fabrication skills, Chris pieced together a well-designed four-link rear suspension with air ride. The 7-inch diameter Firestone airbags are inflated courtesy of dual Viair compressors and the system also features Kelderman’s manual height control valves to maintain proper ride height. Upfront, the factory IFS arrangement was retained, albeit with new parts and components from head to toe. Among other things, this entailed fresh wheel bearings and sway bar bushings, but also 2-inch taller coil springs, the corresponding extended length shocks, and isolators from Far From Stock, which made the truck sit level.
A Fully Restored First Gen Classic
While the First Gen truck was Cummins-powered and already equipped with an Allison when he bought it, Chris still tore the truck down to a bare frame after he brought it home. During that process, the frame was blasted and powder coated, he undercoated the cab, fenders and bed, repainted the firewall, inner fenders and core support, and then gutted the interior, added Dynamat, and installed fresh carpet. In short, he performed a full-on, frame-off restoration in order to build the truck he envisioned—and he did it all within a year’s time. His fabrication skills, wrenching ability, attention to detail, and overall aesthetic taste are all a part of the finished project. Chris’s Cummins-powered, Allison-shifted, crew cab definitely adds a unique twist to the first-gen’s timeless charm.