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Junkyard Find: 1983 Dodge Ram 50 Prospector

Small pickups sold pretty well in the United States during the Malaise Era, and Ford and GM cashed in by importing and rebadging Mazda and Isuzu trucks, respectively. Chrysler, late to the party, turned to longtime partner Mitsubishi and began bringing in first-generation Forte pickups, starting in the 1979 model year.

Here’s a Dodge-badged version I found last week in a Denver self-service yard.

The Dodge Ram 50 (aka Dodge D50) and Plymouth Arrow pickup were cheap, fairly reliable, and got the job done. Once Mitsubishi started selling vehicles in the United States under its own badging, small-truck shoppers could buy a Mighty Max version as well.

The 2.6-liter Astron four-cylinder engine powered a bewildering assortment of US-market vehicles, from the K-Cars with “Hemi 2.6” engines to the exquisitely 1980s Mitsubishi Starion.

This truck has plenty of body filler and general hooptieness, but doesn’t seem rusty.

A very simple little truck, with simple controls and not much to go wrong. And now its constituent materials will reenter the commodities food chain.

The best EPA fuel economy of all small pickups with optional automatic transmissions? Yes, the D50 and its optimistic 28 highway miles per gallon.

You don’t have to look tough to be tough.

By 1983, the Ram 50 had to compete with the identical Mighty Max.

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