Dodge Muscle Trucks Are The Latest To Receive The QA1 Treatment

Tired of hearing about Squarebody this and Bumpside that? We get it, you dig muscle trucks, but you’re not necessarily a bowtie or blue oval lover. Naturally, you start looking for the Mopar equivalent. You may have even picked up a Dodge D-series truck project…But, the aftermarket hasn’t exactly caught up, right? Wrong!

If you’re tired of seeing your buddies with slammed C10s and F100s tearing up the autocross, local cruise night, or car show and not being able to join in the fun because options for your D100 are limited, read on. This applies to you.

The folks at QA1 are just like us – they’re car people. That’s why they know the struggles of taking on a less common project. Still, they want to provide for the widest variety of enthusiasts as possible. So much so, they even took on a D100 project to showcase the ability a company like QA1 has to keep pace with market trends.

It’s no wonder QA1’s latest project truck doesn’t handle very well. It’s sitting as tall as a monster truck! With a lower center of gravity and improved suspension geometry, it should handle much better. It will need some QA1 suspension components to get there, though.

This happens often in the automotive industry, and the classic vehicle market to be more specific. We’ve seen it happen with various generations of vehicles and brands as well. As the supply of one generation or brand offering dwindles and the steel those vehicles are made of turns to unobtanium, people gravitate toward a similar model, but of a later generation, from another brand, or even a less popular variant of the same vehicle – like opting for a four-door Chevelle because an original two-door SS costs so much more.

In that same vein of thought, QA1 noticed the popularity of Dodge’s D100 series of pickup growing. Chevy’s C10 and Ford’s F100 have had their days in the sun – it’s time for some Dodge pickup love.

Enter Project Corkscrew / The Walkaround

Dave Kass and the team at QA1 have embarked on a 1969 Dodge D100 Sweptline project. In the video above, he immediately launches into the spirit of the build by saying, ” This D100 rides like a dump truck. Watch us transform it into something you can have a ton of fun with.”

With the dusty old Dodge sitting front and center in the QA1 workshop, Dave goes on to explain the D100 they’ve selected spent most of its life in California, serving as a work truck on a winery (hence the name Corkscrew). Thus, it does not possess much rust to speak of, if at all – making it a perfect candidate for what they have in store. In fact, Dave elaborated on that very plan.

“We have the intention of taking this truck and transforming it into something you can take anywhere, anytime, and do anything with – whether it be on the race track or on the street.”

The plan

Dave and Trevor start by giving a brief overview of the plan, which is to update the suspension with a full coilover suspension system on the front of the truck, update the wheels, tires, and brakes, and maybe look at some powertrain and engine updates. “It should handle the corners much better than it does today.”

Currently, the D100 is bone stock with four-wheel drum brakes all the way around, It’s got leaf spring suspension in the front and back with the factory straight axle. So, as you can imagine, that creates a lot of limitations and effectively hamstrings the overall performance of the truck.

The old winery work truck still has plenty of life left in it, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t handle like a dump truck.

So, the team set out to transform it to be more like a modern-day vehicle – equipped with the latest in performance suspension. That means installing an independent front suspension, complete with coilovers. The QA1 system bolts right on, and enables the team to get the old Dodge down low, and handle much better. Stance is another big factor to consider – aesthetically speaking, the D100 sat like a monster truck from the factory, so to give it some more attitude, the adjustable coilovers will work perfectly.

As we follow along, the team shows us what they started with. As mentioned previously, many old work trucks are plagued with rust cancer, but Corkscrew is relatively clean in terms of bodywork. But after driving the truck around, Trevor and Dave became well aware of the handling issues the decades-old suspension was causing.

As a utilitarian vehicle used for hauling or towing winery equipment, the truck served its purpose well, but a performance machine, it is not…At least, not yet.

Now that it’s in the QA1 team’s hands, they set out to change all that. The leaf-sprung straight axle with drum brakes on either side had to go! By replacing the antiquated system with tubular components and coilovers, it will allow the team to adjust the alignment geometry of the truck which will increase its handling capabilities.

The team also elected to address the steering of the old farm truck. It previously had power steering which is not the most common feature on a truck of that vintage, but nevertheless, it was equipped. However, that system, albeit an upgrade, is highly outdated. So, Dave and Trevor explained the rack and pinion system they plan to install.

Dave goes on to mention the plan for the brake upgrade. The QA1 kit supports going with a larger disc brake. The key component one needs to consider if they are opting for a setup like that is the spindles. “You can go mild or wild [with QA1 spindles]. If you want to go with a really basic 11 or 12-inch brake setup or, heck, even a 14-inch setup, whatever your heart desires QA1 has options for that.”

Pre-Build Drive

The pre-build drive we mentioned previously was also documented by Dave and Trevor. The second video in the series takes us for a ride in the derelict ’69 D100. In stock form, it doesn’t do so well around cones, although it did provide a great baseline.

With a steering wheel that rotates five times from lock to lock it’s no wonder, the truck tends to wander all over the road once it gets up to speed. The steering feel is likely non-existent.

The two gearheads even take the dirty Dodge out on a dirt road to see if it behaved any better in its natural element, where it’s spent most of its life. Unfortunately, it was less than exciting…they couldn’t even lock up the brakes on a gravel road.

And when they took it to the slalom…that proved to be a real hindrance. To quote Dave, “it’s kinda like steering the Titanic. You’re like two seconds behind whatever input you give it. It’s pretty clear this truck was built for utility. With that said

By replacing the D100’s front suspension with coilovers, it will allow for a serious altitude adjustment, and much greater handling performance. The next time Dave and Trevor tackle the slalom, we’ll bet Corkscrew does much better!

With Trevor at the helm, the slalom was quite a bit of fun, but also quite a bit of work – as he put it. It also required a lot of steering input.

Right after, Dave got behind the wheel and gave the cones a go, but he had something tricky up his sleeve – a good ‘ol trucker knob. With the steering wheel attachment, the five and one-half turns the steering wheel requires to go from lock to lock, seemed much less difficult to manage. Still, it meant operating the truck like some sort of forklift hybrid.

Suffice to say, the two of them were eager to tear into the truck and get the build started after the whole ordeal on the slalom.

The Teardown

With Corkscrew in the shop, ready to go up on the lift, Trevor and Steve from the QA1 tech team, got to work tearing out the stock suspension.

One interesting thing about the early Dodge is that you don’t actually have to take the wheels and tires off to remove the suspension. It can all be taken out as one unit, as Steve says. Although, as most people at home would likely remove them, the team did so as well.

With the straight axle, front leafsprings, steering components, and everything else out of the way, the crew at QA1 is ready to install some coilovers on Project Corkscrew!

With the front suspension exposed, the team supported the front axle and leaf springs for safety. After, they started removing things like the sway bars and steering linkage. Lastly, they unbolted the leaf springs from their respective perches, put the wheels back on, and as mentioned previously, removed everything left over as one unit.

The only question left, was “where are we going with this junk?” and “Where’s the drain pan?!”

One of the cool things about these old Dodge pickups is the fact that the front end can come out as one whole unit. It makes teardown simple and preparation for the new suspension components to go on, a breeze.

The final steps included the removal of shocks, rear leaf spring mounts, and the relocation of some unnecessary power steering components. Once that was taken care of, the disassembly was essentially wrapped up, which made way for the new suspension.

The installation of the new suspension will follow in another video, but the team at QA1 is super excited to get this truck underway. The installation will be fun for everyone at home to follow along with, ourselves included. The QA1 crew will be working on the truck over the coming months, so keep an on the company’s social media platforms, and check back here at Street Muscle as we follow the build series as well.

Article Sources

About the author

Vinny Costa

Fast cars, motorcycles, and loud music are what get Vinny’s blood pumping. Catch him behind the wheel of his ’68 Firebird. Chances are, Black Sabbath will be playing in the background.
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