Segment Ten: 1972 to 1980 Lifestyle Pickups Part I
Author: Don Bunn

First off let's define the term "Lifestyle" pickups. In the early 1970s when Dodge engineers and designers developed this new pickup series the nation was deeply immersed in travel and camping (the dreaded first energy crisis did not hit until late in 1973). Pickups, SUVs and station wagons served as tow vehicles for the family's travel trailer or camper trailer. A travel trailer was the same as a motor home except it wasn't self propelled and a camper trailer looks like a tent on wheels and was usually of the hi-low-type. Pickups were much better tow vehicles and they were more versatile. They could also carry the popular pickup slide-on campers and the low cost pickup cover (topper). The topper was good for carrying equipment but was only marginal for sleeping; usually by hunters and other outdoor lovers. In 1972 travel trailers had 33.3 percent of the RV market, camper trailers 15.3, pickup campers 15.4, pickup toppers 21.5 and motor homes 14.5 percent.

As you can see the pickup was a major player in the lives of many Americans. Consequently Dodge engineered and designed the Lifestyle pickups to take advantage of this huge market. Dodge engineers had to walk a tight line. The new pickups retained all the traditional truck toughness, towing and load carrying ability but yet meet the family's demands for an easy-to-drive, comfortable, powerful, attractive pickup with the amenities buyers expected from a passenger car. For the first time women were involved in the pickup buying decision. Lifestyle Dodge pickups met or exceeded all these requirements.

A D200 Camper Special Dodge pickup with a slide-on camper body was a common sight on the nation's highways in 1972. When photographed in 1998 this truck had only accumulated 25,000 total miles. Its drivetrain consisted of the 318 V8 and an automatic transmission. (Photo Don Bunn).

 

The largest engine available for 2WDs in 1972 was the 200 horsepower 400 cubic inch V8, for 4WDs it was the 180 horsepower 360 V8. A choice of automatic or manual transmissions were available. The base engine for all pickups was the 110 horsepower 225 cubic inch slant six, the 160 horsepower 318 cubic inch V8 was an option as were the 360 and 400 V8s. Dodge designers created a modern pickup with a luxurious cab interior. Dodge built two types of pickups -- Sweptline or Utilines -- in half-, 3/4-, and one-ton models in 2WD and 4WD configurations. A 3/4-ton crew cab featured a roomy 4-door cab. Dodge began building crew cabs in its own plants in 1963 which was an industry first. Prior to this time the company had crew cabs built by outside conversion firms.

The Club Cab was new in 1973. The Adventurer Club Cab shown was typical of model years 1974, 1975 and 1976. (Photo: DaimlerChrylser)

 

A Dodge Camper Special pickup was the option of choice for the family who carried a slide-on camper on weekend trips. The hard working Dodge pickup was very often used for business from Monday to Friday, then used for weekend fun. Camper Special packages were available for D200 and D300 pickups. The packages consisted of a camper wiring harness, a 70-amp battery, increased cooling, dual electric horns, oil pressure gauge, Jr. West Coast mirrors, a sliding rear window and heavy-duty flashers.

Wheelbases of the new trucks were 115- and 131-inches for short and long box half-tons, 131-inches for the 3/4-ton and 135-inches for the one-ton Utiline. A one-ton Sweptline pickup was not available.

The 1978 Dodge half-ton Adventurer standard cab pickup shown is a very rare truck because it is 440 powered. (Photo Monty Montgomery)

In 1973 Dodge introduced the best new idea in pickups since the fully-enclosed all-steel cab of the mid-1920s -- the Club Cab. The entire pickup buying public immediately embraced it. Everyone from the hard working construction workers and tradesmen to families who used their pickups for pleasure saw the advantages of carrying certain valuable items inside protected from from the weather, theft or damage.

Dodge pickups got a huge boost in performance when the optional 235 horsepower 440 cubic inch V8 was added as an option for 2WD pickups in 1974. The 400 V8 was dropped. Transmission options continued to be 3- and 4-speed manual transmissions (either Chrysler or New Process) and the 3-speed Chrysler A727 automatic.

Shown is a 1980 Dodge D200 Crew Cab Sweptline pickup. It is powered by a 318 V8. (Photo Don Bunn).

Beginning in 1975 and continuing through 1980, Dodge's pickup lineup consisted of the D100 and D200 Utilines (the D300 Utiline was dropped), D100, D200 and D300 Sweptline standard and Club Cab pickups and D200 and D300 Crew Cab pickups.
The 400 cubic inch V8 was brought back as an option in 1976, 1977 and 1978. The Mitsubishi built 243 cubic-inch diesel was offered only in 1978. D150 pickups were added in 1978. In 1979 the big block V8s were dropped never to return. The Mitsubishi-built D50 mini-pickup was also new in 1979.

Next Segment:

1981-1988: Lifestyle Pickups Part 2