Restoration: Dodge — Part 21

By: Lyndsay Whittle, Photography by: Lyndsay Whittle

The latest updates on the Dodge restoration project

Rhys Holland and Jeremy Tagg

With the thought of having to make an emergency dash to Australia this month to see an old mate who has more medical issues to deal with than you’d wish on your worst enemy, I was wondering if I was going to have any restoration progress to write about in this issue.

Although I did make it on time to see my old ‘partner in crime’, sadly I’ve resigned myself to the fact that it was our last interaction.

Arriving back in New Zealand, I thought I’d better put some real effort into getting things moving, given that that ever-encroaching content deadline has a horrible habit of sneaking up and punching you on the nose with monotonous regularity.

Ironically, this time round I discovered that the huge amount of effort I’d put into getting bits and pieces back on the truck prior to the Aussie trip had produced a heap more results than expected.

Perhaps there’s a valuable lesson to be learned from this experience, in which if you go at a task on autopilot you get far more done than if you try to be too precise about the process.
I don’t know, maybe I’m just rambling, which is nothing new, I hear you whisper.

Making headway

I had my first surprise when I walked across to the truck to drive it out of the shed for the first time in a couple of weeks. I automatically went to climb under the cab to connect the cable that I’d been using to start the engine, only to realise this was no longer necessary.

I’d forgotten that on the very day I left for Australia, we’d connected this function via a fantastic innovation called an ignition key, a device that is attached to the steering column.

This ‘modern’ feature, which was now at my disposal, immediately made me realise that progress was finally being made with what to date has been a protracted and slightly dangerous process.

Starting the truck was now something that required little-to-no effort instead of being a bit of a mission; and to cap it off, another surprise awaited at the end of the 50-metre drive to the workshop.

Instead of having to exit the cab to turn the engine off, we’d also installed a length of electrical wire that can be tugged on from inside the cab – okay we’re still a while away from having this function operating courtesy of the stop solenoid, it is nevertheless a step in the right direction.

To further appreciate the driving experience, I need to go back in time a month or so when the only way to get in the truck was to climb up on the driver’s step, reach inside the cab and operate the door via the inside latch.

Closed-in cab

The seats have now been re-upholstered

As if being able to now open and close the doors from inside and out wasn’t enough, at the eleventh hour prior to heading off to Aussie, Jeremy Tagg and his off-sider Rhys Holland from Bespoke Auto Glass, had paid a visit to fit the driver’s and passenger windows, this part of the restoration has completed the task of closing-in the cab, Finally having the cab closed-in will now allow us to complete items inside the vehicle, such as completing the electrical wiring, fitting the dashboard and the seats, which were reupholstered some months ago.

The mats aren’t new, but they do the job

Writing the words in the previous paragraph has been a prompt to my aging thought process (a mechanism that wasn’t great to start with) whereby I’ll have to sort the floormats out before the seats can go in.

The floormats, I have to say, are going to be a bit of a mission because they’re going to require a fair bit of patching to get them looking reasonably tidy.

I’m going to have to live with the fact they’ll never be perfect though, as new ones for some strange reason are no longer being manufactured. I guess I’m lucky to have original floormats in any condition, as they were missing completely from the cab of the restoration truck.

Noel Galloway

If it wasn’t for the fact the donor cab my mate Noel Galloway found for me had a half-decent set of mats, I’d have had to start completely from scratch with this part of the restoration.

Still playing catch-up

Mud guards half finished

As nice as it is to finally be making some progress, there’s still a lot to do at the cab-end of things before we can move on to the rear chassis, mudguards etc.

Unfortunately, the extra time taken on the restoration due to the inordinately inclement summer weather of 2023, when combined with the work being carried out outside, has left us with a lot of parts needing to be repainted.

If it was simply a matter of a quick repaint, that probably wouldn’t be so bad, however much of the work has to be taken back to bare metal so we can start all over again, something that is frustrating to say the least.

Anyway, it is what it is, and we just have to bite the bullet and get on with it. There’s the sun visor and the stone guard that have to be titivated before being fitted to the cab, along with some inside upholstery, although thankfully there is little of the latter thanks to the austerity of British-built trucks of the day.

Lindsay’s brand-new 1980 RG11 Dodge

Ironically, I remember well the day I sat in the cab of my brand-new 1980 RG11 Dodge for the first time and thinking how posh it was compared to the 1968 TK Bedford it was about to replace.

Thinking back to even earlier days to when I owned a 1947 OLB Bedford, I would’ve thought the TK was a pretty flash machine, which all goes to show how amazing our perception of luxury changes as time goes by.

Anyway, what we do know is that when I’m finally able to drive down the road in the Dodge I’m sure as hell not going to think I’m travelling in style.

Find more trucks for sale in NZ

Keep up to date in the industry by signing up to Deals on Wheels' free newsletter or liking us on Facebook