This ’61 D-100 packs the bite of a Viper!
Words By Louis Kimery • Photos By Corey Ringo
Trucks were designed to work. Farm trucks, supply trucks, delivery trucks, and just about any other vehicle with a single cab and a bed were put to task. They were a tool of the working man and served their purpose until they couldn’t keep up, and then they were put to pasture (literally, in many cases).
There are rare cases when a truck simply refuses to die and becomes part of the family. Wayne and Marcella Powell of Albuquerque, New Mexico, own such a truck.
His father, Wilburn, bought this first generation ’61 Dodge D-100 Sweptline with just 2,000 miles on the odometer in 1962 and promptly put the pickup to work. The Dodge hauled lumber, firewood, roofing supplies, gravel, and manure on demand. It went camping and served as playground equipment for a neighborhood full of children.
It was used as daily transportation for years – Wayne began driving it when he received his license, and it saw use when his daily drivers were not functional. Eventually, Wayne and Marcella’s older son, Adam, drove it to school and, later, for his roofing job. The Sweptline continued serving the Powells well beyond its twilight years.
The pasture was never in the cards for this Dodge. Instead, it was treated to updates, bigger engines, and modifications. In fact, it’s been through about five different updates. The original slant-six engine was ditched years ago in favor of a 318,, which eventually gave way to a 360. At one point, after breaking the original chassis with an excessive load of gravel, Adam and his dad merged it with a 4X4 half-ton frame and the running gear from a donor Ram Charger.
Once Adam sailed off to college in the late-’80s, the Dodge did get parked for a number of years. Later in the decade, Wayne started to resuscitate the D-100, but moved on to other projects, including restoring a ’55 Olds his parents bought new (and in which Wayne and Marcella dated and honeymooned). Finally, the time was right for the Dodge to be treated to a complete makeover.
Wayne wanted the family truck to be something more (much more) than a truck with a family background. He noticed a couple builds with Viper V-10 engine swaps and, with some research, found there were donor cars and pieces available. Why not make the Dodge handle like a Viper?! He contacted the team at Mild to Wild Classics of Albuquerque, who had built the family Olds, and the transformation began.
Inside and out, they left no bolt unturned, and the results of their efforts speak for themselves. The body was peeled from its second two-wheel-drive D-150 chassis, and the crew set about developing a new frame to secure the 2005 Viper drivetrain.
But, it wasn’t just the V-10 and trans that were incorporated into the Sweptline. The team also used front spindles and brakes, as well as the independent rear suspension from the same 2005 Viper Roadster donor. The basis for the new chassis was an ’87 Dodge pickup frame that was obviously heavily modified by the Mild to Wild team.
The last part of the cadaver Viper that lives on in Wayne’s D-100 is the gleaming factory Mango Tango Orange Pearl. This vibrant color seems to contain a certain undeniable solar energy that is trapped under the clear coat. The bright tropical hue changes with the sun, and sometimes, due to the trucks body lines, you’d swear it was two- or even tri-toned.
This Sweptline features a full slate of custom body modifications, though the truck still retains its heritage. Every panel has been modified or enhanced in some way. The extensive work on the bed included taking the outer sheet metal from a donor bed and transposing it onto opposite sides on the interior of the bed. Subtle, yet a magnificent touch.
Many of the factory Viper components were sourced from X2 Builders of Maryville, Illinois. They provided the third generation, 505-hp 10-cylinder, and the four-speed/overdrive transmission for the project. A custom wiring harness from Hotwire Auto in Mena, Arkansas, kept the maze of wiring easy, and the factory ECU was re-programmed by Chris Jensen.
As for the interior, it received the same attention and updating as the chassis and body. Storage compartments were created behind the seats, a custom console was crafted, and Sweptline styling cues were incorporated throughout. Power windows, locks, mirrors, and A/C bring luxury to the pickup, and the factory gauge pod was updated with Dolphin components.
The finished all-steel truck is completely Dodge, though a combination of two models that had absolutely nothing in common. One was a heater-delete, no-frill truck designed to serve and haul. The other was a modern American-bred sports car designed for speed, agile handling, and an intimidating presence.
Thanks to the Powell’s vision, the talent of Mild to Wild, and the advice of countless other hot rod pros, the family Sweptline has a new lease on life. May this fine blend of performance and utility haul in style for generations to come. SRL
See more of Corey’s photos at Double Barrel Photography