In August of 2012 I did a report about a yard I found that was full of all sorts of interesting big tucks. There were old Macks, an REO, a gaggle of old farm trucks from the 1940s and 50s and lots of other interesting bits. And then there is the one, the big orange Dodge Bighorn. A real gem, a rare gem. Once word of my initial report got out (see below for link) I was inundated with requests – the truck fans asked, no they begged me to take more pictures of it – please, please, please, get more pics!
Just kidding! I am more than happy to comply and here is some snaps from my second trip to see it. This time I had a better angle and a better camera.
The Dodge Bighorn was that company’s largest vehicle, a massive tractor unit meant to complete with similar offerings from other big-rig makers. Produced for only a few years, it was not made in large numbers and in fact only 261 examples were built between late 1972 and the spring of 1975 when production of all medium and heavy duty Dodge trucks was suspended. Of the number made only 70 were known to have been sold in Canada new. So here we are, one of seventy. But it gets better, a knowledgeable expert has estimated that only 70-90 examples still exist overall (that is Canada and the US combined). This makes our big orange machine a super rarity. That colour alone makes it unique!
And to think, we originally found this truck by dumb luck while out for a walk. I never knew it existed before and judging from the emails I have received, neither did the Bighorn experts.
As was the case with other similar duty trucks from other makers, this model could be ordered with all manner of optional equipment. Different engines, transmissions, interiors and creature comforts, and each one built was essentially a custom job tailored to the specific needs and wants of the customer. Who knows how this one is equipped?
I have seen the specs on this model and as hard to believe as it is, the base line plain-Jane offering had no front brakes (I have been told that in the 1970s this was not uncommon – wow), manual armstrong steering and other strange sounding options. Of course it’s doubtful if many ordered the truck so plainly equipped.
This truck has a massive radiator, perhaps the largest offered at the time. It’s simply huge and is really something to see up close. The huge front end, the big fenders and cowl make the cab look tiny in comparison, almost comical (IMO). And that cab is interesting, looking very much like a Dodge pickup truck cab from the 1950s. Not completely the same I am told, but very similar, the doors from one can be used on the other!
Throughout the years Dodge built a reasonable number of medium duty trucks and even some larger ones but this was their biggest by far and a flagship model. Ultimately it was not that well received though – Dodge was new to this field and to many an unknown. They were a pickup truck maker after all and most trucking companies were more comfortable buying from the more established big rig makers, like Kenworth, Peterbilt, Mack, International and others.
Production of Dodge trucks over one ton, including this model, were suspended around mid 1975 (note: I have been told 1977 for some export examples). New safety rules were coming and most of these slower selling trucks would require a complete and expensive redesign. It was easier to abandoned them then spend the money on a product that was not returning much to the bottom line. A wise fiscal choice I guess.
Interestingly, someone is storing what looks to be new Dodge pickup box on the frame of this Bighorn (see pics). Maybe they should make a supersize pickup out of the pair.
While I can could not see everything clearly, the truck looks complete and fairly solid. I can’t image what it would take to restore it, but it’s hoped this is what the owner has in mind. It’s such a unique truck and would surely turn heads!
It’s not clear what year this truck is from since most were custom built and without the VIN we have no way of knowing. There are some remains of signage on the door but it really doesn’t tell us anything in the way of who it used to work for.
I do recall seeing on Bighorn on the road, back in the 1980s. I could not be mistaken as the model is too unique to be confused with anything else. I mean nothing looks like it. This happened in Lethbridge AB.
This truck is not be confused with the Dodge or Ram Big Horn (note: two words), a contemporary limited edition pickup truck. Outside of name these two vehicles are about as polar opposite as it gets.
In January 2012, we paid a visit to the yard this truck sits in and to see that report, see this report…
Old trucks on a dreary day.
To see some other trucks we’ve encountered in our travels, follow these links…
Old trucks and vehicles – August and September.
Deanz Garage – with Sharpeshots.com.
Unrestored trucks Pioneer Acres Museum Irricana.
If you wish more information, by all means contact us!
Date: January, 2013.
Location: Airdrie, AB.