It's a matter of fact that Dodge never had a strong foothold in the truck market until recent years, but for those who own a vintage Mopar, this has never swayed their beliefs in the third of the Big Three. Dodge fanatics have never been into mainstream automotive fads and their enthusiasm for the automaker's products often is genetic. In an effort to keep the Mopar blood flowing through the Meyers family, Jerry Meyers bought a '71 Dodge D100 for his 14-year-old son, Mitch, back in 1986.
Mitch took to the Dodge like a duck to water, learned to drive in it and worked on the '71 all throughout high school as he figured out his way around the shop. After completing high school, the '71 was parked for six years while Mitch attended college. Once he graduated in 1996, Mitch wanted to get back to work on the old stepside and soon got hooked up with Kevin Bowman of Bowman Real Hotrods right there in his hometown of Brandon, South Dakota.
The first thing the two did was swap the last of many slant sixes for a small-block Chevy followed by a custom rear roll pan. For a couple of years afterwards, things moved somewhat slow on the Dodge as the guys would only work on it during the chilly Midwest winter months since Mitch was still driving it otherwise. At the request of Mitch's wife, Amy, their engagement pictures were taken with the Dodge and they also drove it away from the church after they tied the knot. How's that for a keeper?
Next, with the truck at Kevin's shop, they tackled the chassis. In the vein of practicality and a nice low stance, they installed one of Jim Meyer Racing's (no relation) heavy-duty front steer IFS kits along with 11-inch GM disc brakes and Air Ride Technologies 'bags. While the truck was torn apart they ditched the rear leaf springs in favor of an Air Ride Tech triangulated four-link that holds the stock, beefy Dodge 8 3/4-inch rearend in place.
After collecting the best parts from no less than three donor trucks and the decision to move up to a big-block Chevy for power, things started to get serious when Mitch brought the truck back to Bowman Real Hotrods for what would soon be "The Full Monte" as it were. The whole truck was disassembled, parts were fixed, sandblasted, massaged, and finally on their way to be painted. Once the paint on the frame was dry, Mitch began assembling it in his home garage; all the while getting more excited about the truck coming together hopefully for the last time. The chassis went back to Kevin's for stainless steel brake and fuel lines, while the sheetmetal was at the fourth and final body shop getting prepped for the Bell Helicopter Text Orange paint. Once James Rosenau and AJ Nelson were done with the body and paint, Mitch spent from Christmas '04 to well into the spring carefully reassembling and wiring the '71.
Early that summer, the Dodge was handed over to Mark Boelman to have the interior stitched up in soft oatmeal leather. The Spartan interior is now highlighted by the comfortable TEA's Design seat, a set of Auto Meter gauges, and a Billet Specialties HoleShot steering wheel with a polished tilt column that matches the truck's 18- and 20-inch wheels from the same manufacturer.
In the revised engine compartment now resides a '75 Chevy 454 that was machined and built by Tim Mathern using mostly stock GM pieces. It also has a COMP Cams High Energy bumpstick and is capped off with a polished Holley intake and carb. To really dress up the motor, but not overdo it, a polished cast-aluminum air cleaner and valve covers from Mooneyes were employed along with coated Parr headers and a stunning German-Silver radiator made by Kevin who also scratch-built the rest of the 2 1/2-inch exhaust system.