The Call of the Wild – 1987 Dodge D-150

Live and Direct From the Motor City

There’s something to be said about a dude who strives to be different. Maybe it’s some sort of instinctual drive that steers a guy away from the pack, or maybe it’s a combination of that with pride and a genuine taste for flavors that aren’t on the menu. Whatever the case may be, there’s usually a great deal to be learned by observing said individual’s outside-of-the-box process.

Some of these outsiders are proud to let their freak flag fly; others, however, prefer to conceal their differences. In the matter of Julian Heinrich—a guy who obviously marches to the beat of his own bongo drum—it’s safe to say that he’s a nut through and through. Now, there is not one ounce of slanderous intent behind that statement, so before any of his aunts write in to complain about any so-called bullying, just hear me out. The man’s a sweetheart, he really is, but he’d be quick to admit to and embrace every bit of his quirky nature. Let me put it this way: He’s the type of guy to obsess over and piece together a Dodge when the rest of the world is building Chevys using readily accessible parts from mail-order catalogs. There’s no doubt about it, the guy’s a loon.

But once you get to know Julian, and understand what makes him tick, you’ll find that he isn’t nearly as out there as he might seem on the surface. He’s had his eye on a particular Dodge D-150 since high school, and he patiently waited and played each of his cards just right until he finally seized the opportunity to own it. “This truck was my buddy’s truck back when we were in high school,” he says. “I acquired it in a trade for labor, but I’ve wanted to build it since way back when we were younger.”

The factory bench seat is still covered in original upholstery. Actually, the entire cab is original save for a few aftermarket items.

When Julian finally got his hands on the Dodge, he experienced a feeling that was more than a decade in the making and worth every day he had to wait. The truck was sitting behind a marine performance shop waiting for someone to give it another shot. But even though he had been interested in the truck for the better part of his adult life, he has a much deeper connection to it than that. “The truck was built at the Dodge City plant [8 Mile], and I grew up just 10 miles north of that plant. It has lived in the Detroit Metro region its whole life.” When you think about it, the truck is only a year older than Julian is, and the two have been exposed to each other’s charms for a good chunk of their respective lives. It was only a matter of time before some kind of cosmic force aligned to speed up their inevitable union.


Before he waded too far into the deep end with the project, Julian knew that he’d have to rely heavily on his resourcefulness and willingness to hunt and gather to get all of the parts he’d need. “I started the major part of the build-up phase once the time was ‘right’—smack in the middle of a sea of Chevy trucks also being built. I put so much effort into the Dodge for a couple reasons really. I mainly wanted to show my ability and genuine love for old Mopar vehicles, but at the same time, I really wanted to create a classic truck that was different and didn’t have any Chevy parts underneath it.”

In all honesty, Julian did have to bend his own rules a bit when he used a GM master cylinder. No big deal, because other than that single, solitary part, the rest of the truck is Bow Tie free. “Everything was either rebuilt or parts were tracked down from other Mopar guys in order to complete the truck, “since no parts are made for these things.” Julian has successfully built a network of pals who have been able to help with the parts he needed to get his D-150 back on the road, but more importantly, to keep it there, since he’s pretty fond of racking up as many miles as he can.

The Lokar shifter looks right at home in the D-150’s cab, but it had to be modified for it to fit and shift properly.

How does that old saying go? Work smarter, not harder. Well, you can toss that logic directly into the gutter because there’s nothing wrong with an old-fashioned, dad-approved work ethic. Who’s to say that you can’t work hard and smart simultaneously? Those words are for the birds, and there’s no question that Julian would not do one thing differently if forced to start back at the beginning. “I just don’t like being like everyone else. If I wanted it easy, I’d build a Chevy, but where is the fun in that?” Bold last words, indeed. But then again, this guy is a proud weirdo, a renegade Dodge builder from Detroit—what else would you expect? ST



Julian Heinrich

  • 1987 Dodge D-150
  • Rochester Hills, MI
  • No Regrets


  • Shop: Superior Machine, Ed and Justa Smith, Detroit Gearbox
  • 1985 Dodge 360-ci Police LA block
  • Black machined 0.030 over
  • Torqueflite 727 non-lockup auto transmission
  • B&M stage two shift kit
  • Modified Lokar shifter
  • Turbo Action S-800 convertor
  • Dana/Spicer (OEM) driveshaft
  • Speed Pro pistons
  • COMP Camps XE250H camshaft and springs
  • Mancini Racing oil pump and pushrods
  • ARP/Mancini Racing hardware
  • Mopar Performance valves
  • 360-ci HD water pump
  • Powermaster alternator
  • Derale Performance cooling fans
  • A-body car motor mounts, custom frame mounts
  • Hemi Race Orange and wrinkle black motor paints
  • Mopar Performance M1 dual plane intake, chrome valve covers
  • Proform air cleaner
  • Quick Fuel Slayer 600 carb
  • Gibson headers, custom Y-pipe-to-rear dump
  • Magnaflow Race series mufflers

 Chassis & Suspension

  • Modified A-arms
  • Dodge Dakota clip
  • Western Chassis spindles
  • High misalignment Hughes ball joints
  • OEM rack-and-pinion
  • Slam Specialties RE-7 airbags, front and RE-8 airbags, rear
  • Rear Michigan Metal Works parallel 4-link with watts link
  • Chevy master cylinder (only GM part on this truck)
  • Chrysler 9.25 rearend
  • Redrilled for 5×4.5 Dakota bolt pattern

Wheels & Tires

  • 22×10 Helo 851 wheels
  • 265/35R22 Hankook Ventura ST tires

Body & Paint

  • Shop: Murder City Modifieds, Darren Dipetta
  • DuPont Colorado Red
  • Traditional body drop
  • Shaved Ram’s head hood mount, lower body clad trim and badges, A-body red marker lights
  • All trim is original stainless
  • Dealer-installed OE moon roof and hitch mount
  • OE front bumper rechromed
  • Grant Kustoms rear roll pan
  • Bed floor raised to clear frame
  • Gas filler in bed floor
  • All original (and newer) dents and dings kept as a reminder that this is still a truck

Interior & Stereo 

  • Original upholstery on original seats
  • Stock gauges with AVS digital air gauge
  • Joe’s Racing sprint car aluminum anodized steering wheel
  • Stock handles rechromed
  • Lokar Performance Products shifter
  • AC blows cold
  • JVC head unit
  • NAPA battery

Special Thanks From the Owner: “Thank you to my parents for all of the support, Justa Smith for the truck and the extra set of hands during the build (not to mention his dad for helping get the engine dialed in), my club No Regrets, and lastly, everyone that kept me positive during the build and always kept me laughing.”



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