Dodge introduced the most radically changed pickups in their history for 1961. Previous generations continued to use engines from the generation before, but 1961 utilized Chrysler’s all-new and now famous Slant Six engine, which was standard in all light duty pickups. The new Dodge also featured the industry’s first use of alternators in pickups.
Marking a drastic departure from the past, this all new Sweptline design featured large flat panels broken only by a sweeping crease forming a check in the rear of the styled Sweptside cargo box. Integrated cab steps were concealed by the doors and a full-width hood featured faux hood louvers. The introductory grille was made up of tinsel thin bars. Since it was both fragile and barely covered the front fascia, 1962 saw beefier front ornamentation more appropriate on a work truck, as this was still a time when trucks were primarily used for utility and didn’t have much use for excessive styling elements. 1962 also saw Dodge’s first crew cabs available as a regular production option.
The first major styling change was for 1965, when the front fascia went from dual headlights to massively framed single headlight per side incorporated into a full width grille. This theme carried though until 1968, when the grille became a narrower yet more massive single-piece assembly.
One constant from before the Sweptline was in the optional V-8 engine, the Polyspherical head 318 cubic inch unit that debuted in 1959. This continued to be the sole V-8 until 1964, when one of the rarest pickups from Dodge was introduced – the Custom Sports package.
While this package featured bucket seats and quad rally stripes over the hood & roof, it was the “High Performance Package” available as an add-on option that gave it teeth. Standard power for this pioneering muscle truck was from a 365 hp, 426 Wedge big-block through 1965. This was also the first Sweptline to offer several choices in engines, ranging from the Slant Sixes through even a few specially prepared show trucks equipped with the 426 Hemi. The Custom Sports package continued to be offered until it was replaced by the Adventurer package for 1968.
While the Adventurer wasn’t as sporty, it had greater market appeal as a well-equipped luxury truck, with a car-like interior and comfort amenities such as carpeting and door panel armrests. The Adventurer proved to be a very successful package for Dodge, and they continued to offer it into the 1980s.
The final trim package offered during the Sweptline era was the 1970 Dude. Exclusive to the long wheelbase Sweptside box pickups, it featured a broad C-stripe going across the length of the truck, not dissimilar to several Mopar muscle cars of the era.