OLD SCHOOL

Jason Gunn’s Show-Winning 1990 Dodge D250

Many gearheads have the story about the truck that got away, or the one they sold and later regretted. Thirty-five-year-old Erosion Solutions foreman Jason Gunn is no different—the Athens, Tennesse, resident drove a 1990 D250 while he was in high school. After high school, thinking he was upgrading, he sold the ’90 to purchase a 1996 Dodge Ram 2500 4X4 and lived to regret it, soon wishing he had that 1st Gen Cummins truck back. Kicking himself for selling the one he had, Gunn went on a hunt for another ’90 to replace his first love.

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Jason Gunn’s Project Old School 1990 Dodge D250 is an award-winning show truck that he built with the help of a few friends and family.

Finally, in 2010 Gunn’s stepdad found a 1st Gen that he thought might spark his interest. After seeing and driving the truck, Gunn realized that it was set up exactly the same as his old high school truck. Not wanting to let another ’90 slip through his fingers, he bought the truck and used it as his daily driver for the next four years. After four years of quality time in the ’90 he decided it was time to give the 24-year-old truck a facelift, and the restoration and customization process began.

Gunn started working from the bottom up so to speak. He started by installing suspension upgrades, wheels, and tires before moving on to the rest. To give the front end some additional height, he installed a set of Moog 7220 springs while he cleaned and painted all the suspension components. In the rear, he cleaned and painted all the stock suspension components along with the entire frame, to really dress up the chassis. For rolling stock, he chose to install a set of black and machined aluminum Raceline Wheels 16×8-inch Raptor Wheels that are wrapped in Cooper Discoverer A/T3 LT305/70R16 tires to give the truck an aggressive look with a little additional height.

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Popping the hood on the D250 reveals a clean engine bay and non-intercooled Cummins VP44 12-valve with bright red accents.

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The factory H1C turbo is enhanced with a BD Diesel 16 CM turbine to spool better as well as red paint on the compressor side.

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More red paint is splashed across the top of the engine, including the intake elbow, valve covers and custom valve cover plate.

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The VP44 uses a Danny T fuel pin as well as 3200 governor springs to feed 100hp injectors for more power and better performance out of the stock Cummins engine.

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With the reupholstered split-bench seat from an ’01 Dodge installed, the interior of Gunn’s ’90 is a very comfortable place.

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Gunn installed a gauge pod on the A-pillar to house an AutoMeter Sport-Comp boost and EGT gauge to keep an eye on the Cummins.

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Gunn had an aluminum plate machined to show off the truck’s name of the side of the fender well above the loomed wire harnesses.

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Gunn replaced the factory radio with a flip-out, touch-screen Android receiver to give him good tunes whenever he is cruising along in the truck.

With the suspension working and looking better, Gunn turned his attention to the Cummins engine under the hood. The non-intercooled turbodiesel 5.9L engine was rated at only 160 hp in 1990, so he wanted to boost performance. He often reminded himself not to go crazy since the truck was for show and cruising, not racing. He retained the stock internals while installing a set of 100hp injectors as well as modifying the VP44 pump with a Danny T fuel pin and 3200 governor springs. He stayed with the stock H1C turbo but enhanced it with a 16 CM turbine from BD Diesel to give him faster spooling and better throttle response. To squeeze even more performance out of the engine, he added some additional timing to the pump. The engine inhales through a Sinister Diesel intake and air filter, expelling spent gasses through the 4-inch Diamond Eye turbo-back exhaust system. He estimates that it is now making around 300 hp and close to 600 lb-ft of torque.

Since Gunn had show-truck aspirations with his D250, he detailed the engine and engine compartment by painting everything he could in bright red paint. In addition to cleaning up and looming all the wiring, he installed a custom valve cover plate, machined to cap off the red valve covers.

Next, attention was given to the body, where Gunn and his friend Danny Crass at the Athens Collision Center worked tirelessly to smooth the body to perfection. They removed the factory trim and badges and filled in the holes to give the truck a completely smooth body. Then Crass and Jeff Graves laid on several coats of Colorado Red and PS2 Silver to make the truck stand out in a crowd. Rather than keeping with the original wide two-tone design that doesn’t follow the body lines, Gunn wanted a design that would match the classic Dodge’s lines. He was also insistent that the two colors meet on the body without the need for pinstriping to cover up the union. He spent much time himself in the paint booth smoothing out the fine-line painter’s tape to ensure a seamless finish with no bleed through under the tape. When the moment of truth came and the tape was ready to peel, the hard work was rewarded with a perfect finish where the two colors meet smoothly on the sides of the truck.

To give the truck a tougher touch, Roger Carter fabricated the custom front and rear bumpers to replace the factory front and rear bumpers. The front bumper integrates large mounts for shackles as well as a small pair of LED driving lights and a large light bar in the center to light up the dark Tennessee roads at night. The bumpers are finished in a rugged, black-textured, semi-gloss finish that should hold up to just about anything. The final exterior touch was to spray the inside of the bed in black bedliner material, to give it a uniform good look and protect it in case Gunn ever had to carry some tools or cargo in the bed.

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The new two-tone paint is reminiscent of the original but better in every way at the same time. Gunn reworked the suspension installing new springs up front to give the truck a good stance and fit the larger tires and wheels under the rig.

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A large set of Cooper Discoverer A/T3 tires are wrapped around a set of Raceline Raptor wheels to give the truck a modern custom look while still fitting in with the classic lines of the old-school Dodge.

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The front grille isn’t perfect, but Gunn has been unable to find a new one, and it’s in good shape for a 27-year-old truck. Roger Carter fabricated the rugged front bumper. To give the front of the truck a modern flair Gunn installed a set of aftermarket headlights with LEDs ringing the outside of the reflector.

While paint was flying, the team also repainted all the metal inside the truck’s cab. While the interior was gutted, he installed new Memphis 6×9-inch speakers before refurbishing or replacing the door panels and other stock interior components from 25 years ago. For seating, Gunn purchased a used split-bench seat with a fold-down armrest out of an ’01 Dodge, then stripped the padding and upholstery and refinished the frame. Jeff Brown installed new seat foam and a new factory gray seat cover to match the rest of the gray interior in the truck. The factory gauge cluster is in great shape, but he augmented it with LED backlighting and installed a dual-gauge A-pillar pod to house a pair of AutoMeter Sport-Comp gauges to monitor boost and EGT of the Cummins. To finish off the interior, he replaced the factory radio with a touch-screen, flip-out Android receiver to give him high quality tunes.

When Gunn finished the truck in September of 2015, he brought the truck to the sled pull and truck show in Greenville, Tennessee, that featured a show-n-shine competition where he was awarded the Best-In-Show award justifying his hard work. Since then, he’s entered several other shows and events capturing award after award with his ultra-clean 1990 Dodge D250. It may not be his original high school truck, but this Old School truck is much nicer and he plans to hold onto this one. In fact, he and his wife Jennifer eventually want to build a second truck so that one day his kids, Jailynn and Jaryn, can show the trucks.

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Looking under the truck you can see the 4-inch Diamond Eye turbo-back exhaust system as well as the restored chassis.

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From the rear you can see the rest of the clean chassis as well as the stock rear axle and 5-inch slash-cut polished stainless steel exhaust tip.

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The rear axle also sports a Cooper tire-Raceline wheel combination to match the front.

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While the truck is more of a show truck than a work truck, Gunn still applied a spray-in bedliner for a nice uniform finish and to protect it in case he needs to haul anything in the bed.

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Gunn’s truck looks good from any angle and the custom fabricated rear bumper works well with the truck while offering plenty of body protection.

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Gunn has been collecting trophies and plaques with Project Old School since he completed it and entered his first show-n-shine, including several for Best of Show and Best Dodge.

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A lot of body work and keen attention to detail were required to straighten the body and fill all the holes from the emblems and molding.

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While the truck was disassembled the chassis was restored as well.