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Walker Evans 1987 Dodge Dakota Restoration

Rory

Crayola Killer
1st off, don't let the "Thread starter" name fool you, this is NOT my restoration although I will be helping out with it. My good buddy Cody Swanty from Kingman Arizona owns it and we started talking a month back about "Possibly" racing it at this years Baja 1000. Before i get to that, let me start from the beginning:

Randy Anderson at Walker Evans racing was in charge of building this class 8 truck for Walker Evans during the 1987 season. The truck was completed right before the Off Road World Championships at Riverside where it was dominating the field until the steering box broke and sent Walker into the wall on Thompson's ridge and he waded it up...

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The truck was fixed and showed up at the start of the 1988 season in Parker and was one of several new race trucks debuting that year. Here's a shot of it on the Arizona side from Centerline Photo...

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The truck only raced the 88 season as it was deemed illegal for class 8 due to the V8 engine that was not yet in production for the consumer till 1989. This truck was sidelined and used as a display vehicle and then a prerunner until the early to mid 90's. In the mid 90's the truck was turned into a class 7 unlimited for Scott Douglas and then NASCAR racer Brendan Gaughan and JC Dean....


Photo Credit Centerline Photo.

The truck was sold to someone over in South Africa in the late 90's I believe and was raced for a while and then changed hands. The old owner posted here on RDC about 18 months ago and we started talking. He wanted to sell it and buy a buggy to race because a truck like this was hard to run in his series because there was no one to run against. I loved this truck when i was a teenager and really wanted it for myself but that stupid IVAN STEWART TOYOTA was getting the best of me as i couldn't work out a deal for it yet. Picture of the Dakota racing in South Africa (photo credit unknown)...

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I turned to my good buddy Cody Swanty, fellow desert racer (class 7s Jeep and Pro Truck) and also runs Swanty's Dodge/Chrysler/Jeep Dealership in Kingman Arizona. I knew he was a big fan of this truck and he had shown interest in building something to go racing the NORRA Mexican 1000. I was apprehensive about sharing the truck with anyone because of course i wanted it for myself, but we all know we can't have EVERYTHING. Cody was excited about the truck and I put him in touch with the seller. Shipping something from South Africa is not easy, and especially NOT cheap. A deal was struck and the truck was shipped off to America. Here is the old owners set up for hauling to the races...

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And here it is in the shipping container...

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More to come...
 
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Dave_G

Well-Known Member
I made a lot of parts for Walker's trucks back in the day including the knock off wheel hubs. I still have many of the engineering prints from the trucks.
 

JDDurfey

Well-Known Member
Rory, I once made the following statement "Rory can't save them all"

Well, I stand corrected...I remember when this truck was written about while in South Africa. Really cool you helped bring it back to its roots. Can't wait to see what you guys put together.
 

TRAVISD

Well-Known Member
That is awesome. Cant wait to see it up and running. Now get back to the Toyota!
 

Rory

Crayola Killer
As much as I'd like to take credit for getting this truck back to the US, that falls squarely on the shoulders of Cody Swanty. The absolute nightmare he went through getting that truck shipped back was a victory within itself. Seems the shipping company gives you one price and the dock workers another...hahhaa. I'm glad to see a fellow off road racer get this truck and restore it back to the way it was in 1988.

The truck is now safely in Swanty's race shop sitting next to Cody's Dodge Pro Truck. It is here where Cody has started really getting a good look at the truck and see what he has in store for him.

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The rear suspension was changed from the traditional leaf spring set up when the truck was built in 1987 to the upside down leaf spring set up when the truck switched to class 7. This was the same set up both of Walkers class 8 trucks were running at the time.

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These are the rear trailing arms for the rear suspension and were kept on the truck from the original build in 1987.

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Dana 60's were very popular for class 8 trucks back then. This one will need some love.

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The rear hubs have been changed I'm guessing because the knock off's hubs are no longer on the rear. Looking at the fronts (below) you can see the threads for the knock off hubs but they changed over to lugs...I'm guessing parts are hard to come by in South Africa.

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The Dodge ended up with a Chevy LS motor so I'm guessing the V6 motor that it ran in class 7 was pulled when they sold it. It looks like they had to get a little creative on the headers to make them fit...

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The cockpit...

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One of the major scores with this purchase is it came with all the molds for the body. Anyone building a Dodge Dakota wanna buy some fiberglass? Call Cody...

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So there you have it, another old race truck saved from almost being gone forever. Buying an old race truck from halfway around the world, without even looking at it with your own eyes takes some MAJOR Huevos. Kudos to my buddy Cody for pulling the trigger on this historic race truck. The fun starts now if we want to get this truck done for the 50th Baja 1000! Only 277 days to go...
 

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La Tijereta

Well-Known Member
It would very cool to see truck back in the 2017 Baja 1000... 30 years flashback to the water crossing outside of Sta Catarina.. Class 8 was won by Dave Westhem GMC that year..

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@Centerline Images
 

Rory

Crayola Killer
Kristian. GREAT photo (as usual). Cody currently has the truck completely together and sitting on jack stands. The plan was to get the body re-done and rehung, then tear the truck down and start sending out stuff (Engine, trans, rear end, shocks....etc). Luckily for Cody one of his good friends is Richard Cook. Richard use to work with/for Ed Roth.....AKA Ed "Big Daddy" Roth or Rat Fink. Richard took the original fiberglass and smoothed them out, added a little fiberglass where it needed it, then put on a nice coat of primer. We think the original owner (AJ Van Der Walt) had the doors made so they can open and Cody likes this option so he is keeping it...

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Here's the outside of the drivers door all finished up...

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Front Fenders...

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And the rear fenders...

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Richard is still working on the hood and the top of the cab but it is turning out nicely. The truck is set to go to Bear race cars in the next week or so and have the entire body rehung to better line up the body lines since being shipped to South Africa 2 decades ago.
 

Rory

Crayola Killer
Travis, Cody and i would LIKE to race the truck in class 8 but we would have a few hurdles to jump to make that happen. SCORE is currently talking about running a vintage class at the 1000 but that also remains to be seen. For class 8, the truck is legal to run as a Mid sized truck but we are not sure the tubing size matches the new rule. It's possible the truck could get grandfathered in since it ran many seasons in both class 8 and then class 7. The other issue would be the fuel injection on the stock LS motor. When Cody has the motor gone through in the next month or so we will find out more whats in it. Cody was told it's a stock LS motor so that equals about 400 hp and would run on pump gas. I'm thinking the only REAL issue will be with the stock LS motor and EFI. We are hoping that SCORE will let us talk to the other class 8 racers and see if they will let us run with them (not for points) with a truck that is 30 years old and lacking in the technology and HP department. If they will give us a thumbs up I'm thinking SCORE will let us race. If all else fails we would have to go to the sportsman class but we don't want to do that.

Any class 8 guys reading this have any insight? If you are planning on running in class 8 at the 2017 Baja 1000, would you give us a thumbs up to race with you? Your input, for or against, is wanted. Thanks for the question Travis.
 

TRAVISD

Well-Known Member
I do not see why you couldn't run in 8, there is not that big of a turnout in the class these days anyways. Put the 6 cylinder back in it and race 7!

On a side note, SCORE is thinking of a Vintage class? I would definitely be interested in that.
 

Rory

Crayola Killer
Richard Cook finished the hood and the roof so the entire body is finished being repaired...

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One of the rear fenders was too far gone to fix so a new one was made out of the molds that came with the truck. The next step is to have the body hung to tighten up the gaps form damaged panels and mounts over the last 30 years. Also, the Goerke brothers (Collins Motorsports) plan on being in town in a week or so to give the truck a good once over to see if any major improvements need to be made before stripping the truck down. Tick-Tock, Tick-Tock.
 

bullock1

Well-Known Member
Just my 2 cents! I get the LS package it's a great platform and coupled to a Turbo 400 there is probably no better combination and bang for your buck in motor sports BUT I feel this truck is a piece of Mopar and off-road history and having an LS engine in it just does not sit well with me. Before you label me as another purist Mopar nut let me ask you this, would you like to see the Hayhauler with an LS in it or Arnold with a Ford power plant? Probably not.
I am not sure if the Dakota had a big block Mopar or small block when originally built but I feel that's what this truck deserves and if you want to modernize it go with the 5.7, 6.1 or 6.4 HEMI and a 727 Torque Flight will bolt right up to these three options. I know you guys already have the LS that came with the truck and as always money talks but like I said at the beginning of my rant this is just my 2 cents.



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NIKAL

Well-Known Member
Just my 2 cents! I get the LS package it's a great platform and coupled to a Turbo 400 there is probably no better combination and bang for your buck in motor sports BUT I feel this truck is a piece of Mopar and off-road history and having an LS engine in it just does not sit well with me. Before you label me as another purist Mopar nut let me ask you this, would you like to see the Hayhauler with an LS in it or Arnold with a Ford power plant? Probably not.
I am not sure if the Dakota had a big block Mopar or small block when originally built but I feel that's what this truck deserves and if you want to modernize it go with the 5.7, 6.1 or 6.4 HEMI and a 727 Torque Flight will bolt right up to these three options. I know you guys already have the LS that came with the truck and as always money talks but like I said at the beginning of my rant this is just my 2 cents.



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I'd have to agree, since this is a restoration build. Also I would think with Cody owning a Dodge dealership, getting a MOPAR V6 or V8 engine for it should not be to hard. I would guess fitting it back it the chassis would be the biggest cost, but IMO worth it. I vote for Mopar power, even if it delays the finish build date.
 
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sb4pro

Well-Known Member
Not sure about the year or if this even the same truck ( cause the guy posting the vid says its 91 ) but this might be the wreck you were talking about .

On another note wouldn't be cool to get Walker and Ivan to start both trucks for the race .
 
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bullock1

Well-Known Member
I'd have to agree, since this is a restoration build. Also I would think with Cody owning a Dodge dealership, getting a MOPAR V6 or V8 engine for it should not be to hard. I would guess fitting it back it the chassis would be the biggest cost, but IMO worth it. I vote for Mopar power, even if it delays the finish build date.
Ok! If this guy owns a Dodge dealership there should be no reason not to install a Mopar engine! IMO.


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Rory

Crayola Killer
Knowing Cody it will have a Dodge engine in it in the near future but trying to change out everything on an already tight schedule might put us out of racing it at the 1000 altogether. Soooo, the easiest thing to do with the time permitted is to freshen up what is there and run it. I get what you're saying, when i saw Walkers class 8 truck at NORRA a couple years ago with an LS7 I was a little bummed....
 

Mark Newhan

Well-Known Member
Knowing Cody it will have a Dodge engine in it in the near future but trying to change out everything on an already tight schedule might put us out of racing it at the 1000 altogether. Soooo, the easiest thing to do with the time permitted is to freshen up what is there and run it. I get what you're saying, when i saw Walkers class 8 truck at NORRA a couple years ago with an LS7 I was a little bummed....

If I had the time, I'd put the new LT4 in the Ramcharger, ;)
 
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