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1968 Dodge W200: Vitamin C

This Repowered W200 Dodge Is Part of a Balanced Diesel Diet

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Repowers are cool—and that’s a fact. Just take a modern, turbocharged diesel engine and toss it between the fenders of classic sheetmetal for the best of both worlds. In recent years this has been made easier with adapters from Destroked and Ford Cummins, mounts from Diesel Conversion Specialists, and standalone harnesses from Painless Performance. While parts and knowledge are available, don’t be fooled into thinking a repower is easy, particularly one as nice as Shannon Owens’ ’68 Dodge W200.

You see, Shannon didn’t just take a high-mileage Cummins engine and toss it in his classic Dodge. Nor did he put a high-horsepower engine into a clapped-out barn find. It took a lot of time and energy, but Shannon created a truck that stands out from the crowd. His machine started as a gas-powered ¾-ton Camper Special with a 318ci engine in it. Shannon used the truck as a beater in the winter around his home in Lake Tahoe when he parked his Duramax-powered GMC—until he decided to give the W200 a new lease on life five years ago.

Shannon started with a 12-valve Cummins from a ’94 Dodge that had been rolled. The head was fire-ringed by J&H Diesel and fitted with 60-pound valvesprings before Adam’s High Rollin’ Customs fixed it to the block with ARP head studs and a marine head gasket. These precautions ensure the head won’t lift off the block when the 64mm High Tech Turbo pushes 40 psi of boost through the engine, but the engine modifications leave at least another 20 psi on the table. The boost is routed through a custom intercooler and piping from Trent Fabrication to ensure the engine’s air is cool and dense.

To keep up with the added oxygen, a host of fueling modifications was made, starting with a FASS 150-gph pump mounted under the hood in an aluminum enclosure to keep noise down. From there, the P-pump was enhanced with more parts from J&H, including its fuel plate, DDP 4,000-rpm governor springs, and DDP delivery valves to feed the DDP Stage IV injectors. The power is routed through an NV4500 manual transmission and NP241 transfer case to each end of the truck.

Trent Fabrication modified the Fifth gear in the transmission for added reliability and put a South Bend clutch in front of the tranny. The rear Dana 80 axle came from the same ’94 Dodge that donated the rest of the drivetrain and is fed power from a one-piece driveline from Bayshore Truck Equipment. It is filled with a Detroit Locker and 4.30 gears to spin the 40-inch-tall Goodyear MT/R tires.

The front axle uses the same gears and an open differential in a high-pinion Dana 60 sourced from a ’79 Ford F-350. These axles are prized for their kingpin knuckles and locking hubs, and no narrowing was necessary to retrofit the axle under the front of Shannon’s Dodge. The steering is handled by a Saginaw box from an International Scout that connects to a steering arm from WFO on the passenger-side knuckle via the custom draglink. The crossover steering keeps bumpsteer to a minimum with the lifted GM leaf springs and Rancho RS9000 shocks.

Time and effort went into more than just the engine and drivetrain. The great thing about vintage sheetmetal is that every part has a story. The hood on Shannon’s truck came from Santa Clarita, California, the left door and front fender came from Texas, the tailgate came from Kansas, and the turn signal lenses are reproductions from Thailand.

An enormous number of hours were spent transforming the interior and exterior to show quality. This is no accident, as Shannon’s late father Owen was a well-respected car collector whose work won awards at shows like the prestigious Concourse d’Elegance in Pebble Beach. Alex Upholstery in Moundhouse, Nevada, recovered the factory bench seat and Taylor Tracy built a custom gauge cluster to house a whole host of Auto Meter gauges.

Altizer Powder Coating worked its magic on the grille and side mirrors, while Trent Fabrication created bumpers to match the classic lines. Dave Matthews smoothed the old sheetmetal and discretely opened up the fenders to accommodate the 40-inch tires before laying down the eye-catching paint. “It is Vitamin C Orange,” Shannon notes. “This was a factory Mopar color on ’69 Plymouth B bodies.”

The end result is a combination that is as powerful and comfortable as a modern truck, but with style that stands out in a crowd. “You can’t take this truck for a quick drive,” Shannon jokes. “It starts conversations everywhere I take it—even if it’s just to the corner store for a sandwich.” In our opinion, that is a small price to pay for a one-of-a-kind diesel powerhouse like Shannon’s ’68 Dodge W200.

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