Gallery Page 143

Mike Patterson's 1976 True Spirit Renovation

Before and After Renovation

Mike bought this 440 powered 1976 True Spirit from a local wrecking yard where it had been sitting for 15 years. The original plan was to do a quick rebuild and paint job and turn it into a shop truck. That changed when he researched what was left of the True Spirit decals on the truck.

According to Skip Gibbs book “Truckin thru the 70’s” less than 200 True Spirits were built in 1976 and those, along with the original batch of Warlocks were sent to dealers in San Francisco and LA to test market reaction to a factory custom truck.

Making the truck even rarer is that of the 3,521 1976 D100 2wd Shortbed Stepsides built, only 70 were 440 powered (D codes) and Mike's still had the original engine. (Galen Govier “Dodge Light Truck Code Book, second edition”).

With the truck quite possibly being the only 76 D code that also had the True Spirit package, the quick rebuild turned into an intense 10 month frame-off resto-mod project.

The two biggest visual changes were the color change from Sable Brown Metallic (the Arizona sun can really heat up the interior of a dark colored truck) and an aftermarket seat. NOS parts were used wherever possible and original and quality used parts were used to complete the truck. Factory AC, cruise control, tuff wheel, factory tach and volt/vacuum gauges, aux gas tank, aluminum diamond plate bed floor were some of the other changes. As no True Spirit Stripe kits are currently available lots of pictures and rubbing of the original decals were made and a local graphics shop reproduced and applied the stripes.

The 440 was rebuilt with forged pistons (9:1 compression), a 69 Chrysler 350HP cam and intake and an Edelbrock AFB. The engine was topped off with era correct Direct Connection chrome valve covers and air cleaner. The non-original transmission was replaced with a TCI RV transmission and the 3.55 open rear was changed to a 3.21 sure-grip.

The truck is just too much fun not to drive, although if Mike needs to haul an engine or transmission it is put on a trailer (thanks to the concealed receiver hitch behind the license plate) rather than in the bed of the truck.

If you would like to know more about Mike's 1976 True Spirit he can be reached at:

Before the Renovation

After the Renovation

Are you proud of your Dodge truck or car? Want to show it off? Please email me a pic along with a description of your vehicle and I will add it to the Gallery.

Joe Leonard 2008-07-24