HMV Buyer’s Guide: Dodge M880 1-1/4-ton Truck

Rick Coquillette’s fully restored Dodge M880 exemplifies the Army’s efforts in the mid-1970s to build an inexpensive, light utility vehicle based on a civilian model. John Adams-Graf photo.

The United States military instituted the Commercial Utility Cargo Vehicle or “CUCV” Program to provide a cheaper, light utility vehicle to augment the purpose-built—but expensive—Gama Goats and M151 series 1/4-ton trucks that were approaching the end of their service life. The military intended to replace the M715 5/4-ton trucks and any M37 3/4-ton trucks still in service with the new CUCVs.

The Program initially provided Dodge D-Series trucks with several military modifications. But these Dodges were a far cry from the proven World War II-era WC-series trucks and the Vietnam-era M37 workhorses. Rather than being purely tactical trucks, the M880 series of vehicles were an attempt by the U.S. military to use commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) vehicles with minor modifications in non-combat roles. Dodge supplied the mildly militarized civilian trucks in 1976 and 1977.

The basic 4×4 vehicle of the series, the M880 pickup, was created from the Dodge 3/4-ton W200 pickup. A 4×2 version was based on the D200 chassis and designated the M890. A folding set of steel bows was available to support a cargo cover over the standard civilian bed. A form of the standard military folding troop seats fit into the bed’s stake pockets.
The trucks were powered by the standard civilian Chrysler 318 V-8, that drove the truck through an automatic transmission. The trucks also had power steering. A civilian-type step bumper on the rear provided the mounting point for the pintle hook. A kit was available to add a 24-volt power system to the trucks. Most of the vehicles did not have military-type lighting systems, but a few had them added.

The M881 had a 24-volt 60-amp generating system in addition to the standard 12-volt electrical system of the vehicle. With the addition of a communications kit, the M881 became a M882. When a S250 shelter was mounted inside the truck’s standard cargo bed and secured with tie-downs, the truck became an M883. A truck with the S250 shelter, 24-volt, 100-amp electrical system and communications kit was known as the M884.

The M886 was an ambulance model using standard pickup sheet metal from the cab forward, but with an especially designed rear patient compartment. A sliding door in the rear of the cab allowed the attendant access to the heated rear patient compartment. A pair of double doors in the rear of the body could be opened for patient loading. Five litter patients could be carried.

Between 1975 and 1978, Dodge delivered 33,759 vehicles in both four-wheel and two-wheel drive configurations to fulfill a $145.7 million contract. The vehicles remained in Army and Air Force service until the early 1990s.

NET WEIGHT: 4,648 lbs.
GROSS WEIGHT: 7,748 lbs.
LENGTH: 220.75”
WIDTH: 79.5”
HEIGHT: 73.9”
TRACK: 65.2”
TIRE SIZE: 9.50-16.5
MAX SPEED: 70 mph
RANGE: 225 mi
ELECTRICAL: 12-volt positive
ENGINE: Chrysler V-8
DISPLACEMENT: 318.3 cu. in.
HORSEPOWER: 150 @ 4000 rpm
TORQUE: 230 lbs.-ft. @ 2400 rpm

Condition code & Value (dollars)

  • 6    500
  • 5    1,200
  • 4     2,250
  • 3     3,500
  • 2     6,000
  • 1    7,250
  • Scarcity    1


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One thought on “HMV Buyer’s Guide: Dodge M880 1-1/4-ton Truck

  1. John Adams-Graf on said:

    Note: Government contract trucks did NOT have power steering.

    The 318 engine on 1976 and 1977 CIVILIAN versions had emission controls, but these did not appear on the government contract trucks.

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