M880: A Tactical MV (sort of)

I t is getting close to twenty years since I first began writing for Military Vehicles Magazine (ed’s note:?Steve’s debut was in No. 7, April-May, 1988). I have loved jeeps and other unarmored tactical vehicles ever since I was a kid, and by the late 1980s had personally owned, driven and/or worked on hundreds of common U.S. MVs. Even though I?have used many for travel both on and off-road, I had never gotten into the hobby aspect of MV collecting or show type restorations. Virtually all of my vehicles were (and are) daily drivers, and some were used for real grunt work. It wasn’t until I was in my twenties that I even became aware that there were people who owned MVs as a hobby.

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The base vehicle for this series was the M880 pickup. The position of the parking lights under the headlights identifies this as being built prior to August 15, 1976. After that date the parking lights moved inboard of the headlights. U.S. Army

    I discovered Military Vehicles Magazine by accident through an ad in an antique truck publication, but it sounded interesting enough for me to invest in a subscription. Today, I’m not sure what prompted me to sit down and write an article, not even knowing if it would be accepted. Since the piece was about the service and repair of early type aluminum M-series blackout-marker and tail lamps, I assume that I wanted to help fellow MV enthusiasts maintain their vehicles. I went on to write more articles in the hope of saving other MVers time and money, lest they make the same mistakes I had made when it came to choosing the right vehicle for whatever use they had in mind.
    
    While there are probably as many reasons for owning a military vehicle as there are people who own them, one generally chooses a hobby because it provides enjoyment in some form, if not always relaxation in the conventional sense of the term. Buying an MV that is too large, too small, too slow on the highway, too hard to find parts for, too maintenance-intensive, or sometimes simply too “vintage” for one’s budget or practical use, can take a lot of enjoyment out of the MV experience.

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The M880 series trucks, while achieving the military’s goal of providing economical transportation in non-combat areas, lack the appeal of the purely tactical designs that preceded them. U.S. Army
    
    What I have learned in the years that have passed, since I was pleasantly surprised, not only at having my first article accepted, but also receiving a small check in payment, is that the military vehicle hobby is composed of many different kinds of people. These are men and women, kids to senior citizens, “conservatives to liberals.” There are many people who don’t join clubs or go to MV shows and events. Some simply want an “old Army jeep or truck” to drive. On the other hand, there are people who would restore that same jeep or truck right down to the last nut and bolt and put it under glass in a “members only” museum. There are even a few who couldn’t take a joke if it came gold-plated, and/or who bristle like angry porcupines if one dares to point out known faults in their vehicles.

    In any case, this piece is about the Dodge M880 and its variants; and to start off by saying that these trucks were tactical vehicles…”sort of”…will no doubt bristle someone’s spikes, despite the fact that the U.S. military felt exactly the same way about them.

DODGE–A?LONG?HISTORY?OF?BUILDING?MVS

    Dodge — now, of course, a division of Daimler-Chrysler Corporation — has a long and successful history of building military trucks even though the original Dodge Brothers offered only one actual truck while they owned the company–a ?-ton pickup from 1924 through 1927. The history of Dodge trucks is really a story of two companies: Dodge Brothers, and the Graham Brothers.

    The Dodge brothers built the first automobile under their name in 1914. Prior to that time, these gentlemen had simply manufactured parts for Ford Model-T cars. The Dodge brothers became very well known and respected in the budding automotive industry because of the work they had done for Ford, as well as for Oldsmobile and other auto manufacturers. Naturally, this good reputation helped when they introduced their own automobile, and the first Dodge cars sold very well. The Dodge Brothers’ cars were a bit upscale from Ford’s Model-T, being larger, more powerful, offering more standard and optional features, and naturally costing more. Since a lot of folks liked Dodge cars, there were many requests for Dodge Brothers trucks. However, the brothers could hardly keep up with the demand for their automobiles, so no trucks were offered.

    Then, during WWI, the U.S. Government contracted the Dodge Brothers to supply 20,000 half-ton vehicle chassis, cargo trucks, light repair trucks, and ambulances. After the war, the Dodge military ambulance was converted into a vehicle that the Dodge Brothers called a “Screenside Commercial Car,” and was offered in their 1918 lineup. The Screenside was something like the “Huckster” body offered for the Model-T Ford, and like the Dodge military ambulance, was built on a beefed-up 114-inch wheelbase auto chassis. It was rated for a ?-ton payload, and fitted with a 212 cid. 35 horsepower, four cylinder engine, coupled to a three-speed transmission. About six months later, a half-ton “Commercial Panel Car” was introduced. Even though this vehicle was really a panel truck with double rear doors, the Dodge Brothers insisted that it was a “car.” These were the only “trucks” that the original Dodge Brothers Company built between 1918 and 1928. In 1923, these “commercial cars” were upgraded to a ?-ton rating.

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There were at least a dozen basic variants of the M880.    The frontline ambulance version was labeled the M886. John?Adams-Graf

    Though it seems as if the Dodge brothers didn’t care for trucks, they were not blind to the fact that trucks were a popular and profitable item. In 1921, they made an agreement with the Graham Brothers Company to manufacture 1- and ?-ton trucks built from mechanical parts supplied by Dodge with cabs and bodies made by Graham. These trucks were sold exclusively by Dodge Brothers dealers. This turned out to be a good arrangement, and the line of Dodge trucks was expanded to include lighter models…though the 1924 ?-ton Dodge Brothers pickup was still built by Graham Brothers.

    In 1925, a gentleman named Chrysler founded an automobile company, which proved to be so successful that in 1928 he purchased the Dodge Brothers Company and introduced three new product lines: Plymouth and DeSoto automobiles, and Fargo trucks. Chrysler also built “Dodge trucks,” and Fargos were an entirely different vehicle. Chrysler dropped the Fargo line after the 1929 model year. The Fargo name continued for many years on Dodge trucks sold in Canada and other countries.
    
    Dodge trucks differed from their two major competitors, Ford and Chevrolet, being powered by “corporate engines” rather than “division engines.” For example, Ford trucks did not use an engine other than a Ford car engine until 1948–an exception being a four-cylinder tractor engine optional in early 1940s light trucks. Likewise, Chevrolet trucks used only Chevrolet car engines. On the other hand, Dodge trucks used engines from many Chrysler divisions, such as Chrysler, DeSoto, Dodge, and Plymouth. Howeve r, when any of these corporate engines were installed in Dodge trucks, they were built with premium and heavy-duty features.

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This M880 was built after August 19, 1976, as evidenced by the parking lights inboard of the headlights. Photo courtesy of Memphis Equipment Company

    It is a testament to Mr. Chrysler’s business skills that his company survived the Depression years. Chrysler was an optimist, and continued to spend money on research and development, even though by 1932, truck production had dropped to about half of what it had been in 1931. Though Dodge truck sales hit bottom in 1932, they increased dramatically during the years of 1933 to 1935. Chrysler kept investing in development; and in 1936 introduced a “glamour line” of pickup trucks. Besides many car type features, such as chrome trim and radiator grilles, these new trucks had “ForePoint Load Distribution.” Although this was just an impressive-sounding term for simply moving the front axle forward, it did result in greater vehicle stability, and thus was more than a marketing gimmick.

    During the 1920s and 1930s, the U.S. military had been buying a few Dodge trucks now and then, whenever it could afford them. After WWI, the U.S. military’s budget had been drastically cut, especially when it came to acquiring new vehicles and equipment. Slow, clumsy WWI vintage Caterpillar artillery tractors and other such leftover WWI machinery were still in service well into the 1930s until the ominous rumblings of a new war began to be heard in Europe.

    Unlike the original Dodge Brothers, Chrysler was never one to pass up an opportunity, and developed and built many vehicles for the U.S. Army during the 1930s. One of the first was a ?-ton 4×2, which was basically a heavy-duty civilian pickup with a front brush guard to protect the headlamps and radiator. This truck was designated the T5A-KC. Chrysler’s Dodge division also supplied various other semi-militarized 4×2 and 6×4 cargo trucks to the U.S. armed forces.

    During the mid and late 1930s, as the war drums beat louder across the Atlantic, Chrysler developed many new 4×4 trucks and command cars for the U.S. military, such as the Dodge VC-series, in ?- and 1-ton models. Some MV experts say that the famous name, “jeep,” was first bestowed upon a Dodge VC ?-ton Command Car. Although these vehicles were still basically beefed-up civilian trucks (the ?-ton VCs were actually built on Dodge’s 1-ton truck chassis) with front brush guards and a few other military features, they were rapidly evolving into what would become the rugged and dependable WC-series ?-ton weapons carrier trucks of WWII. The WC, in turn, evolved into one of the best light military trucks in history: the world-famous M37.

A LEAP?OF?FAITH:?FROM?M37 TO?M880
    
    There is a saying about religious and spiritual beliefs: “If you believe, then no explanation is necessary, If you don’t believe, then no explanation is possible.” Along these lines, some people won’t understand when I say that, to me at least, there is a difference between a vehicle that is a “jeep” in the generic sense of the term, and what we call an “SUV” these days. In the world of military vehicles, does one see a difference between a Dodge M37 and a Dodge M880? This may sound like a ridiculous question to some folks–of course there is a difference, and it just about slaps a person in the face! Besides the fact that both are 4×4 “pickup trucks,” they are totally different machines.

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The M890 vehicles were not only restricted to non-combat areas, but their lack of four-wheel drive further restricted them to on-road use only. U.S. Army

    But why? Only because they look entirely different in sheet metal? The M37 is an old-fashioned looking truck, like something designed in the early 1900s. Its squared off lines and bolt-together body with large front fenders and bullet headlamps hark all the way back to the FWD and Liberty trucks of WWI. It has a flat, two-piece windshield that folds down or opens like the “rain-vision” windshields of brass cars and trucks.

    On the other hand, the M880 is, well…
    
    A streamlined design from the 1970s and state-of-the-art for its day? A “modern M37?” The natural evolution of a small, tactical military truck, built with all new components, and therefore much better… “new and improved,” must be better? It has a 318 V-8 engine compared to the M37′s flathead six…the latter an engine that would surprise no mechanic if time-warped back to 1920. The M880 has an automatic transmission and a really comfortable cab, just like a 1970s Dodge “Sweptline” pickup.
    
    But, hey, the M880 isn’t just a Dodge Sweptline (or “Lifestyle”) civilian pickup, it’s a tactical vehicle specially built for the U.S. military! It came in army green or camouflage paint. It has blackout lights (sometimes) and a real M-series light switch. It has a pintle hitch, troop seats, cargo racks, and canvas. And, it will cruise at 70 mph on the freeway, compared to the M37′s pitiful 45.  Who needs a windshield that folds down or opens in this day and age?
    
    Of course, if one is fairly skilled at such things, one could transplant an M37 body onto an M880 chassis. There! Now we have a modern tactical truck with all the classic MV looks, as well as the features that are useful in combat, plus all the advantages of fast highway speed and V-8 power. And, to frost the cake, we will rate this “new M37″ at 1?-tons!
    
    We could do the same thing with a civilian vehicle… say, for example, we transplanted the square-lined, utilitarian body of a Series II Land Rover onto the modern chassis of a small SUV. Do we now have a true safari vehicle that is better in every way than the original? If you know what I’m saying, then no explanation is necessary. If you don’t, then no explanation is possible.

    Unless you are a fan of the Hummer H-2–a vehicle that seems to possess all the disadvantages of both an M998 HMMWV and a Chevy Suburban with none of the advantages of either–you might agree that there have been very few truly successful marriages between dedicated civilian off-road or military tactical vehicles and civilian SUVs that have produced truly rugged and useful offspring. In an article about the Kaiser M715 (“M715, The Other Jeep,” MVM no. 111), I mentioned that the M715 was originally intended to replace the Dodge M37 as a take-no-prisoners tactical truck. There was nothing really “wrong” with the M37 that couldn’t have been simply and inexpensively “fixed” by installing a more powerful engine and either raising the final drive axle ratio, or perhaps fitting it with a five-speed overdrive transmission, to bring its safe cruising speed from about 45 mph up to 55 or 60.
    
    However, it seems as if the Pentagon could not be satisfied with something this simple, practical, and cheap to upgrade a battle-proven tactical truck. Instead, both Dodge and GM’s Chevrolet division were contracted to come up with an all-new replacement for the M37. If one needed any more proof that the M37 was probably the best tactical truck in its size range, one had only to look at the new Dodge and Chevrolet prototypes, which were remarkably similar to the original. It was as if even the designers could do little to improve the M37 and still retain all of its desirable combat features. Not so remarkable, was finding that to build either of these new tactical trucks would cost twice as much as the M37s still in production. This apparently did not go down well in Washington, because Kaiser Jeep was awarded a contract to design and build an M37 replacement- -the M715.
    
    Although the M715 was intended to be the same kind of dedicated tactical truck as the M37–not a tactical “sort of”–Kaiser kept the cost per unit down to half of that of the Dodge and Chevy prototypes by using many off-the-shelf and existing components, both military and civilian. The front sheet metal and cab body tub were lifted directly from the Kaiser J-series (Gladiator) trucks and partly modified for military service. The M715 used the same 9.00×16 tires as the M37 (though a different style of wheel), and its top speed and general performance were mostly either the same as the M37, or at least no vast improvement. An exception, perhaps, was the M715′s rated cargo capacity: 1?-tons compared to the M37′s ?- ton. The M715′s Kaiser-designed six-cylinder 230 cid engine  was rated at 132 horsepower at 4,000 rpm compared to the M37′s rating at 78 horsepower at 3,200 rpm, for the same size engine.

    Ironically, by the time the M715 went into production, the Kaiser overhead cam engine had proven to be problematic and was no longer offered in civilian J-series trucks! Indeed, this engine turned out to be the M715′s major fault. A few small improvements–but none major –were made to the Kaiser M715 during its short production run between 1967 and 1969. It only served as a series for about nine years when it, in turn, was replaced by one of the first “commercial utility cargo vehicles” (eventually, such trucks would be termed “CUCV”)–the Dodge M880.

OFF-THE-SHELF?AVAILABILITY
    
    While the Kaiser M715 was one of the first U.S. tactical vehicles since before WWII to be built from mostly off-the-shelf or adapted civilian components (with perhaps the exception of the Willys M38 Jeep) the Dodge M880 was merely a civilian vehicle with a few standard M-series military accessories, such as blackout lights (sometimes) and a 24 volt electrical system (sometimes).

    Because the Kaiser M715 only dimly resembled its civilian cousin in front sheet metal, it had that hard-to-define look of a “real” tactical truck–with maybe the exception of a sporty civilian steering wheel. Nevertheless, the Dodge M880 was basically just a ?-ton “Lifestyle” or “Sweptline” series pickup beefed up to a 1?- ton rating with some military accessories added. This was a sort of devolution back to the 1930s, though the M880 did not even come with a front brush guard like the T5A-KC. Most of the M880s delivered to the U.S. military had a 131″ wheelbase and eight-foot cargo beds. Each was fitted with a Dodge 318 cid engine, three-speed automatic transmission and steel-belted radial tires. The M880 carried a 12,000 mile or 12-month warranty from Chrysler Corporation and most repairs were supposed to be done at Dodge dealerships. That these trucks were indeed intended to be tactical vehicles … sort of… should be more than obvious at this point. After all, it would be rather difficult to take an “Army truck” to a civilian dealership for service if it was deployed overseas!

    The official military stance in regard to M880 was first stated optimistically in TM2320-266-10 (January, 1976), stating that the Dodge M880 was, “a general-purpose vehicle designed for highway or cross-country operations.” Though ambiguous, this was a rugged-sounding description. However, “the proof was in the pudding” — or in this case, the performance. By 1978, the military had revised its opinion a bit. For example, PS Magazine advised that, “these trucks are not supposed to be on the same footing as other tactical trucks. They are not intended for forward area duty…like the Gama Goat and other military design vehicles.” PS Magazine went on to say, “The M880 series trucks are almost one-hundred percent off-the-shelf commercial design vehicles. They don’t cost as much as military design vehicles. This saves Uncle a lot of money where there’s a need for vehicles only for what’s called ‘rear of the brigade line duty’.” (Having once had the interesting experience of seeing how fast the “rear” can become the “front,” I can only say what a comfort it would be to know that the vehicle I’m driving or riding in had saved “Uncle” a lot of money!)
    
    PS also stated, “But, what your M880s are actually used for is up to your own command. If you have mission requirements that go beyond what’s normally intended for your M880s, your command may have to give you the steer… like authorizing extra equipment and giving you specific instructions for mounting or stowing the equipment.”

    While there were only four basic variants of the Kaiser M715, there were at least a dozen basic variants of the

M880 series trucks:
    M880    This was the basic cargo truck. It was usually equipped with cargo racks, troop seats, and a cargo area cover with bows.
    M881    An M880 fitted with an additional 60-amp 24-volt generator.
    M882    An M881 fitted with communications equipment, though not always a shelter in the rear.
    M883    An M881 fitted with slide-in shelter. The shelter came with an installation kit that included tie-downs.
    M884    An M880 fitted with a 100-amp 24-volt generator and a slide-in shelter.
    M885    An M880 fitted with a slide-in shelter, but without the larger alternator.
    M886     A front-line ambulance based on the M880.
    M887     Based on the M880, but fitted with a Contact Maintenance body.
    M888    An M880 fitted with a Telephone Maintenance body.
    M890     A two-wheel drive version of the M880. According to the tech manual, “The M890 4×2 cargo truck is designed for highway use only.” However, the M890 did have a pintle hitch for towing, “up to a ?-ton trailer.”
    M891    An M890 (4×2) fitted with an additional 60-amp 24-volt generator.
    M892     An M890 (4×2) fitted with an additional 60-amp 24-volt generator and a communications shelter.
    M893    Two-wheel drive version of the M886 ambulance.

    A side note is that while the Canadian Armed Forces used militarized Dodge civilian trucks as ambulances, troop and cargo carriers, these vehicles were based on the heavier-built and more costly Dodge Power Wagon W200. The Canadian trucks had four-speed manual transmissions instead of the M880 series’ automatics. The Canadian Dodges also sometimes had front brush guards.

SO?WHY?NOT?BUY?ONE?
    
    Okay, other than the fact that the M880 wasn’t as combat-capable in all respects as either the M37 or the M715, and may not look like everyone’s idea of a military tactical vehicle, was there anything really wrong with these trucks that might be a reason not to buy one? Some MV experts scoff at the M880 (or other CUCVs) simply because of their civilian appearance. Take just about any Dodge pickup from that time period, spray it OD or camo, and it will look like an M880 at fifty paces. The M-series blackout light system (when fitted) looks like something added on in someone’s home shop. In short, to the general public, an M880 usually looks like an old Dodge pickup that a military buff has… well, militarized. Come to think of it, that’s not far off the mark! Thus, an M880 may not be your idea of owning a “real Army truck.”
    
    On the other hand, with its comfortable cab, automatic transmission, and civilian features, one might say that the M880 is a practical MV for someone on a budget who can’t afford the luxury of a second or third vehicle such as an M37 or M715. It can be driven at freeway speeds, and/or willingly be used by one’s spouse for shopping trips and picking up the kids at school.
    
    Speaking of budgets, some MV experts–or possibly elitists–say that the M880 has “lowest-bidder” stamped all over it. As mentioned above, even the Canadian Armed Forces chose the heavier and costlier Power Wagon to militarize. Many of the same people who deride the M880 for not looking military enough, will also say that the truck’s transmission is a wimpy slush box compared to a Ford C-6 or a GM Turbo Hydramatic 400, much less an Allison. And, despite its optimistic payload rating of 1?-tons, the M880′s rear axle is a fairly light Dana 60, while most civilian 1-ton trucks of the period used a Dana 70. Lockout hubs were not fitted to M880s, so the front wheels are always connected to the front axles and differential, and fuel mileage suffers. Such experts may also disparage the M880′s 318 engine with its two-barrel carburetor as simply being a “car engine” (perhaps forgetting that the unstoppable Jeeps of WWII, as well as the dependable 1?-ton Chevrolet G506 cargo trucks, were also equipped with “car engines”).

WHAT?TO?LOOK?FOR?WHEN?BUYING
    
    On the other hand–even if it wasn’t all of what it was hoped to be–the M880 was not a bad nor troublesome truck. Though only carrying the 12,000 mile or twelve-month factory warranty (supposedly extended three additional months if the trucks were equipped with 24-volt electrical systems and/or arctic kits), they were expected to serve for at least seven years per unit.?Many, if not most, served an average of ten. As with any military vehicle, some were abused or simply used hard, but many others were well maintained and can still be found with relatively low miles. Unlike most “real” M-series MVs, where speedometers are often replaced, it is generally safe to assume that the odometer readings on M880s and other CUCVs are fairly accurate. Of course, one should always check such things as wear in the brake and accelerator pedals, gear shift mechanism, and driver’s side door latch.
    
    Being plain-Jane trucks, other than the military accessories, there isn’t much in the way of gadgets to go wrong–they didn’t even come with factory AM radios. Most replacement parts that aren’t specifically military can be found at just about any wrecking yard.

    Instead of looking at these trucks like water glasses half-empty, they seem well worth considering as beer mugs half-full. The M880 can be a cheap and practical way to enter the military vehicle hobby, especially if you have to justify your MV purchase with a vehicle you can use every day. Most of your neighbors won’t think you’re a sleeper terrorist or a para-military nut, and there’s never a need for waxing. You probably won’t wince whenever you see a shopping cart headed your way in a parking lot, or go ballistic if your spouse, son or daughter announce that they dented the truck. And, if somebody bumps you with an SUV, it will likely be the SUV that needs expensive repairs. Likewise, you probably won’t be afraid to get adventurous if you drive your M880 off-road… just ask yourself if you “really need to go there” before taking foolish chances or getting too extreme.
    
    The M880 is an MV that can be used for work, play, and daily transportation without always worrying about pricey or hard-to-find replacement parts if something breaks or wears out. In fact, some genuine military surplus parts are often cheaper than items from your local auto-mart store… and definitely cheaper than buying them from a Dodge dealer! You can easily install a factory type radio or custom sound system, and add just about all the off-road accessories you’ve ever dreamed of. Unlike other small M-series trucks, such as the M37 or M715, you can easily fit an M880 with a bed cover, shell, or full camper unit. As far as the Dana 60 rear axle, while it may be light, these axles have proven to be just about bulletproof, as long as one remembers to service their bearings. The same concept applies to the “little” engines and transmissions–small, perhaps, but tough and cheap to service and repair.

SERVICING?AN?M880

    The M880 does require a little skill and patience when it comes to repair and maintenance, though nothing is beyond the scope of a good home mechanic with a basic tool set. Probably the most annoying duty is greasing the front hubs–remember that the front wheels are always connected to the front axle, even in two-wheel drive. On the right side of the truck, the hub grease fitting is at a nine o’clock position when viewed through a small access hole. A flashlight will come in handy when searching for this fitting. The fitting will usually be dirty or covered with caked dust or mud, so you will want to clean it to avoid pumping dirt into the hub along with the new grease. Then, make sure the fitting is accessible to your grease gun… you may have to turn it a bit. Be sure the grease gun tip is fully connected to the fitting, then pump in a good quality wheel bearing grease until new grease shows at the inside of the hub.
    
    On the left side of the vehicle, the grease fitting is about eleven o’clock. You might consider installing rubber or plastic caps on these fittings to keep them clean, especially if the truck is used off-road.
    
    The front drive shaft has four grease fittings that must be attended to–again, remember that the front drive train is always turning no matter if four-wheel-drive is engaged or not. Jacking the front wheels off the ground and putting the transfer case in neutral will enable you to turn the drive shaft by hand and make this task a lot easier. You may have to remove one of the universal joint clamps on the front U-joint to reach its grease fitting, though the slip-joint fitting is no problem: nor is the U-joint fitting on the transfer case. However, you will probably have to turn the drive shaft a bit to be able to reach the grease fitting on the middle U-joint.
    
    It is important to keep the front drive system well greased, not only because it turns all the time, but also because replacing or rebuilding the double universal joint is not a job you’ll want to do a lot. This joint is an important item to check when you’re shopping for an M880. Two of the signs that it may be worn out are lots of rumbling vibration at highway speeds–which can also indicate worn out rear U-joints, or bent or unsynchronized drive shafts–and/or the transfer case shift lever vibrating or rattling excessively. You should also jack the front wheels off the ground, put the transfer case in neutral, then crawl underneath the truck to rotate and inspect this joint.
    
    One of the common problems that early M880s encountered during their military service resulted from motor pool mechanics accustomed to working on M37s, M715s and M35s who put 90 weight gear oil in the transfer case. The M880′s transfer case uses 30 weight engine oil. However, and for the most part, the service, maintenance and repair of an M880 are no more difficult to perform than on most comparable civilian pickups. You may want to invest in a manual if your particular M880 is fitted with a 24-volt system or many military accessories. Of course, you can easily make your M880 as military as you wish.
    
    Other than the special tips offered above, shopping for a good M880 is no more difficult or complicated than shopping for its civilian counterpart…a 1970s Dodge Sweptline pickup. You simply check all the usual suspects, engine for smoke or strange noises, cooling system for leaks, transmission for noise, slipping, or erratic shifting, axles and transfer case for noise, brake and tire condition–including uneven tire wear that might indicate a worn or misaligned suspension system–a tight front end and steering system, body parts for rust, and horn, lights, windshield wipers, door latches, window cranks, dashboard instruments, etc. for proper operation. It is also wise to follow the truck down the road in another vehicle to be sure it tracks straight. Many 4×4 trucks of this period seem to go down the road “sideways.”
    
    Besides being a truly practical military vehicle suitable for everyday use–especially for a newcomer to the hobby and/or someone on a budget–an M880 could be a nice truck to have after you acquire a jeep, an M151, an M37, M715, or even go all the way to an M988 HMMWV, as a parts-chaser or tow ing your “real” MV.

M880 SPECIFICATIONS
Weight empty: 4648 lbs.
Weight loaded: 7748 lbs.
Max payload: 2500 lbs.
Length: 218.7 inches.
Width: 79.5 inches.
Height: 73.9 inches.
Track: 65.2 inches.
Wheelbase: 131 inches.
Fording depth: 16 inches.
Ground clearance: 8.5 inches.
Turning radius: 24 feet.
Engine: V-8, gasoline, 318.3 cid.
Power: 150 hp. at 4,000 rpm.
Torque: 230 f. / lbs at 2,400 rpm.
Transmission: Automatic. “LoadFlite.” three-speed.
Transfer case: New Process, two-speed.
Rear axle: Dana/Spicer 60. Final drive ratio: 4.10:1
Tires: 9.50 x 16, tubeless, steel-belted radial.
Tire pressure: 45 psi. front, 55 psi. rear.
Electrical system” 12-volt (unless fitted with optional 24- volt generators)
Maximum permissible highway speed: 70 mph.
Fuel tank capacity: 20 U.S. gallons.
Range (highway): 160 miles.

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