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1970 Dodge Crew Cab - Cummins Swap Power Wagon

“I wanted to keep the Dodge heritage...”

Ron Fresquez
Dec 30, 2013
Photographers: Jessica Wellman
In 2003, Brian Wellman of Southern Indiana saw a '70 Dodge Crew Cab for sale online and knew it had to be his. He envisioned a red truck pulling his red '70 Plymouth 440 GTX to car shows around the United States.
So Brian made arrangements to have the truck hauled to Indiana from its Burbank, California, home—and over the next decade, he tinkered with the truck until it was completed in 2012.
At some point in the Dodge's life, it belonged to the San Bernardino Sheriff's Department in California. When the truck was purchased, it had a Sheriff's Department sticker on the windshield and a unit number painted on top. And Brian found a receipt for a glovebox liner that was originally shipped to someone at Edward's Air Force Base in California.
He contacted both the Sheriff's Department and a few people at Edward's AFB but was unable to narrow down a complete life history for the truck. Its previous life remains a mystery—but it is believed to have been a military service vehicle.
Photo 2/13   |   1970 Dodge Crew Cab
In 2005, after selling the GTX, Brian's plans and strategy for the truck began to change. Since he no longer had a car to haul, he concentrated on making the Dodge show worthy. “I wanted to preserve the Dodge heritage of the truck by keeping it as original as possible yet having the power a Cummins diesel could offer," Brian says.
“I had to fabricate almost everything the truck has today," he says. The truck restoration began with making an engine stand and rotisserie to accommodate the truck. Brian took measurements for the 12-valve so he could plan the fabrication needed to house a Cummins. Once he had a mockup plan for the engine and transmission, he and his son Josh began taking the truck down to the bare frame. Some of the work included in the first part of the restoration was:
•Add all new brake lines
•Add dual shocks (Rancho)
•Paint and sandblast the frame
•Paint the engine and transmission
•Remount the cab and bed to make sure everything was lined up
•Install a Ron Francis wiring harness
•Install a new intercooler, radiator, belts, hoses, and wiring
•F-250 two-wheel-drive steering box and the Pitman arm were both re-fabricated to make the power steering what it is today
•Hydroboost taken from a GM minivan
The truck was occasionally driven over a year's time to make sure all the fabrications were working properly. In 2011, the Dodge was once again disassembled to prepare for the finishing details.
Finishing work finally began in the winter of 2011, when Brian sent his truck to his friend Tom Crawhorn for painting. “I've always thought Dodge R4 Red was a show-stopper color," Brian says. Seeing the finished paint on the truck was all the motivation Brian needed to begin his race with the clock to make the Mopar Nationals in Ohio in August 2012.
Photo 3/13   |   1970 Dodge Crew Cab Interior
Additional touches included sound deadening the entire floorboard, laying carpet, installing seats from a '99 Dodge extended cab, re-chroming the emblems and mirrors, and adding a roll-on bedliner.
The door seals, back window, windshield gaskets, exterior and interior door handles, and all the lenses on the truck were purchased from Easy-Street, LLC.
Ron learned a lot while building this truck, and he credits his contacts with helping him out. “Much of what I learned for this project was from online resources," he says. A millwright by trade, Brian has fabricating experience that benefited him with this type of project, but he owes much of his newfound knowledge to his friends at Sweptline.org. The forum members provided a wealth of information and even helped by sending rare, hard-to-find parts when he was in a bind. To read additional notes about the build, you can see Brian's thread on the Sweptline.org forum.
Photo 4/13   |   1970 Dodge Crew Cab Interior
The project was a rewarding experience for both Brian and his son, Josh. They spent many nights burning the midnight oil, and there was nothing as rewarding as turning the key for the first time and hearing the engine roar. Brian hopes his grandchildren will enjoy sharing the truck as much as he has.

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