Thinking about buying a 1st gen - Dodge Cummins Diesel Forum
89-93 Non-Powertrain Discussion of 1st Gen. Topics Not related to the Powertrain...NO ADVERTISING

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post #1 of 19 (permalink) Old 03-22-2019, 01:37 AM Thread Starter
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Thinking about buying a 1st gen

So I have been in the works of looking for a reliable vehicle for having at college and I found a few 1st Gens on facebook that caught my eye. I currently drive an old ford ranger which is great but I wouldn't be comfortable driving it farther than the 2 hour trip from home to my college(which I make maybe twice a month). I have been wanting another 4x4 truck so that I could sell my old one as I wouldn't have any use for it anymore, and I thought a Cummins might be a good idea since I've been told they're built like a brick house. I'm trying to get my dad on board with it which doesn't seem too hard as he used to have a 2nd gen Cummins that he loved. I'm just trying to decide if I would be making a good choice in doing this. I am also fairly mechanically inclined as well as my father and I am not the kind of kid that would go all out with crazy mods just to roll coal or be cool or anything, I just want a reliable truck that will last.

The one truck that I am interested in is a 1991 W250 LE with 180k for $6500. It has the 3 spd auto transmission which from what I've read isn't bad it's just not the greatest for speed. It was not factory intercooled but the current owner installed an intercooler from a '93. The floor has been sanded and coated with rust inhibitor and has kilmat as well. From the pictures the frame looks very clean and possibly undercoated at one point and it also has a 4" lift. The only issue is that the whole passenger side is beat up almost like it slid into a ditch. The grill and bumper have been replaced and the rest looks like mostly cosmetic damage which doesn't bother me a lot as once I'm out of college I would get it redone. I just want to know if this is a good deal, an ok deal, or if I'd be getting screwed. It's been posted for some time now and the price has already dropped from $7500 which makes me wonder if it's not in as great of shape as it seems. I know it's hard to tell everything without actually looking at it and driving it but from what I can tell it's pretty solid mechanically and the only rust I see is just surface. Is there anything specific I should check? I've been doing a lot of research so I know a lot of what to look for but definitely not everything. Thanks!

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post #2 of 19 (permalink) Old 03-22-2019, 05:14 PM
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Welcome to the board, and the possible ownership of a 1st gen. There is a "Sticky" thread, second one down from the top on this page, that has a ton of info in it on what to look for and asses when buying a 1st gen truck, so take a good read through that and go from there.

This question is asked quite frequently but it's very subjective since location, weather conditions, supply and demand can affect the values greatly from one place to another. If all the things check out, and "YOU" are happy with the asking price then go for it and don't give it a second thought.

1984/93 Dodge Crewcab, W350, 1 Ton SRW, long box, 350K Km's, hydroboost, 366 spring, fuel pin to deep side, 14cm housing, Piston LP, PS IC, Isspro Boost, Pyro and tach, NV4500, 29 spline NP205, 3.54's.
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post #3 of 19 (permalink) Old 03-26-2019, 01:25 AM
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if it went into a ditch there is a very good possibility of frame damage which might be why its been listed so long, its not hard to twist a ladder frame especially if the trucks lifted, the one in my avatar is my first cummins but I've been building 4x4s for everything from basic trail rigs to hard use mud boggers and rock crawlers for 30+ years... its rare to find a truck thats went into a ditch hard enough to do body damage without twisting the frame, usually manifested in one side sitting higher than the other, best way to tell without an alignment rack is to actually drive it and have a friend follow to observe how it tracks, otherwise get it parked on level cement and measure the distance from center of each spring perch to the frame.. sure could be a sagging spring but normally they all start to sag at the same rate so a difference usually points to a frame issue another area to look to spot a frame thats been "diamonded" is the front spring rear hangers if one is further forward than the other it usually indicates a frame is outa square.. usually from the bubba who pulled it outa the ditch by hooking up to one side of the frame rather than a proper center mounted pulling point... usually using some form of diesel powered farm equipment.. noway I'd agree to a price until its inspected correctly
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post #4 of 19 (permalink) Old 03-26-2019, 11:02 AM
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I agree with both of these guys. However Iíve learned that with these trucks, especially W250ís and W350ís, time is of the essence.

I have a habit of checking CL every day. Actually more of an addition. Lol. I usually favorite anything that I think I would be interested in and on average they donít last but 5 days.

I can also tell you that they come up more often than you think when you look nationwide. However get ready to drop at least $1k to ship.

If you found one in your area and your gut tells you its good then I say pull the trigger and get the project moving.

Why donít you share the link so that we can give you a better opinion?


1992 W250 conversion, 6 inch skyjacker, 2inch body, cross over, Borgeson,HE351CW, 37x13.5x20R, 3.54 gears, Auto

1991, W350, non IC, single cab, 285/75/16R, 4.10 gears, 5 speed Getrag

1992 W250 Intercooled, extended cab, Automatic, 4x4 Conversion, 2" body lift, Lizard Skin throughout cab, 3200 spring, THD pin, 3.54 Gears. 37x13.5x20R

1991 W350 Non-Intercooled, Single Cab, 5 speed GetRag, 4.10 Gears, Stock VE Pump 285/75/16R
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post #5 of 19 (permalink) Old 03-26-2019, 12:34 PM
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Cummins are great motors and First gens are great, simple trucks. However, I'm not sure I would consider any vehicle that is 28+ years old to be a top choice for reliability, cummins or not. Things wear out, most trucks of that vintage were used like trucks and many used very hard. I'm not trying to talk you out of one, if you're looking for a bit of a project a first gen cummins will be great, but expect to tinker on it. A lot.

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2005 QCSB NV5600, SouthBend OKHD, CFM+, Jake brake, Thuren 3in, Steering brace, Synergy Track Bar, Vulcan 3 micron w/ CAT UHE 416-1225, CTS2 Insight, Smarty S06
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post #6 of 19 (permalink) Old 03-26-2019, 12:38 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kmehr View Post
Cummins are great motors and First gens are great, simple trucks. However, I'm not sure I would consider any vehicle that is 28+ years old to be a top choice for reliability, cummins or not. Things wear out, most trucks of that vintage were used like trucks and many used very hard. I'm not trying to talk you out of one, if you're looking for a bit of a project a first gen cummins will be great, but expect to tinker on it. A lot.


100 % correct. I recently bought a 91 and man does it need work behind the curtain. Transmission mounts, motor mounts, AC issues, leaking oil in numerous places. Itís working as we speak but these trucks require $$$ to get them up to daily driver specs.



1992 W250 conversion, 6 inch skyjacker, 2inch body, cross over, Borgeson,HE351CW, 37x13.5x20R, 3.54 gears, Auto

1991, W350, non IC, single cab, 285/75/16R, 4.10 gears, 5 speed Getrag

1992 W250 Intercooled, extended cab, Automatic, 4x4 Conversion, 2" body lift, Lizard Skin throughout cab, 3200 spring, THD pin, 3.54 Gears. 37x13.5x20R

1991 W350 Non-Intercooled, Single Cab, 5 speed GetRag, 4.10 Gears, Stock VE Pump 285/75/16R
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post #7 of 19 (permalink) Old 03-26-2019, 01:48 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by @firstgen4x4 View Post
100 % correct. I recently bought a 91 and man does it need work behind the curtain. Transmission mounts, motor mounts, AC issues, leaking oil in numerous places. Itís working as we speak but these trucks require $$$ to get them up to daily driver specs.



1992 W250 conversion, 6 inch skyjacker, 2inch body, cross over, Borgeson,HE351CW, 37x13.5x20R, 3.54 gears, Auto

1991, W350, non IC, single cab, 285/75/16R, 4.10 gears, 5 speed Getrag
I daily drive my first gen and it has been 100 percent reliable at 265k miles. Just have to stay up on maintenance and if it is an auto plan for a trans build. Still even if you have a high maintenance first gen it is much cheaper than a new truck payment and will get better MPG.
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post #8 of 19 (permalink) Old 03-26-2019, 01:49 PM
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Originally Posted by myother4x4isaCJ7 View Post
Still even if you have a high maintenance first gen it is much cheaper than a new truck payment and will get better MPG.

Ainít that the truth.



1992 W250 conversion, 6 inch skyjacker, 2inch body, cross over, Borgeson,HE351CW, 37x13.5x20R, 3.54 gears, Auto

1991, W350, non IC, single cab, 285/75/16R, 4.10 gears, 5 speed Getrag

1992 W250 Intercooled, extended cab, Automatic, 4x4 Conversion, 2" body lift, Lizard Skin throughout cab, 3200 spring, THD pin, 3.54 Gears. 37x13.5x20R

1991 W350 Non-Intercooled, Single Cab, 5 speed GetRag, 4.10 Gears, Stock VE Pump 285/75/16R
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post #9 of 19 (permalink) Old 03-26-2019, 02:17 PM
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FWIW, if you spend most of your trips driving empty, and on pavement... a 2wd cummins truck with locker or traction aid is IMHO a much more comfortable ride. Find one with 3.54 and overdrive (pref 5spd) for the best economy.

93 W250 Club 6BTA |5spd |60/80/3.54/Lockright |4" lift |315/75R16 |HX35 |5x.012s |BD pin & gov spring
84 Ramcharger (project) 6BT |5spd |WH1C| D70/3.07 ...plus a few other 75-93 D/W trucks
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post #10 of 19 (permalink) Old 03-26-2019, 02:19 PM
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There were plenty of months I spent a brand new truck's payment on my old first gen.... granted it was a conversion and far from stock, but still. So easy to get into the mindset of "just this one last thing and it'll be where I want it." One of the biggest problems with these old trucks is there are so many things you can do to them it's hard to leave it alone!

Again, not trying to dissuade you, just be realistic. A first gen cummins, or any 28+ yo vehicle is never going to be "2015 corolla jump and go" reliable.

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2005 QCSB NV5600, SouthBend OKHD, CFM+, Jake brake, Thuren 3in, Steering brace, Synergy Track Bar, Vulcan 3 micron w/ CAT UHE 416-1225, CTS2 Insight, Smarty S06
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post #11 of 19 (permalink) Old 03-26-2019, 04:37 PM
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I have been driving my crewcab daily since I bought it almost 10 years ago, has been dead nuts reliable. When when I first bought it was 2wd i re/re'd the front suspension and addressed some motor leaks etc, but then for the next 3+ years was no issues, then I did the 4wd conversion....big job and took about 9 months in the driveway to complete, but since then no major issues.

As mentioned even a high maintenance 1st gen is still going to a lot cheaper then a new truck with payments, and then shop rate charges for "diagnostics" etc. Heck budget to spend half what a new truck payment is on your 1st gen per month for 1 year and you will most likely have darn near a new truck.
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1984/93 Dodge Crewcab, W350, 1 Ton SRW, long box, 350K Km's, hydroboost, 366 spring, fuel pin to deep side, 14cm housing, Piston LP, PS IC, Isspro Boost, Pyro and tach, NV4500, 29 spline NP205, 3.54's.
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post #12 of 19 (permalink) Old 03-26-2019, 04:46 PM
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The closest I got to dumping a 'new truck payment' into my W250 was a new radiator. Biggest breakdown was changing the starter in the post-office parking lot. The powertrain on these 1stgens is dead-nuts reliable. Automatics not included.

IMO, there's nothing newer that's going be any easier on my wallet.

93 W250 Club 6BTA |5spd |60/80/3.54/Lockright |4" lift |315/75R16 |HX35 |5x.012s |BD pin & gov spring
84 Ramcharger (project) 6BT |5spd |WH1C| D70/3.07 ...plus a few other 75-93 D/W trucks
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