Macho Spotter's Guide

By  Jeff Herman         

The ADULT TOYS by DODGE were designed to be noticed.

The MACHO POWER WAGONS were the most outrageous of all the Factory Built toys. Sporting big tires, black and yellow accents, roll bars, and massive POWER WAGON callouts, MACHOs were easy to spot.
* Click on any picture for Gallery view and descriptions.
Today, after 30 years of work, play, repaints, and rebuilds, it can be much harder to find the telltale signs of a MACHO. Many of these unique machines now sit unnoticed, missing their MACHO parts, hidden under layers of paint and primer. One may be for sale in your area right now, simply advertised as an old Dodge 4X4. What follows is a guide that may help you discover one of these special edition Power Wagons. 

A MACHO POWER WAGON will be a W150 from 1977 to 1981. In '81, four wheel drive trucks were renamed POWER RAMS. All are standard cab swept side long or short bed. If the original paint and stripes are nowhere to be seen,
here's how to verify if it's the real deal:





There is a tag the size of a credit card on the radiator core support, between the battery and the grill. First verify that the VIN matches the title and the vehicle ID tag (same size) riveted to either the driver's door or the jam.  The radiator core support tag should have 2 paint codes and a third code describing the MACHO paint procedure. 

The first is the primary color and starts PY example: PY3116 (3116 is 1977 Bright Red). The secondary color starts out PZ and for the years 77-79 will be PZ4001 (Lo Glare Black).  The procedure code for 77-79 is PX9. Many trucks also may have had this code grease penned on the front of the radiator support during assembly.

For 1980, the secondary color (black) changed to PZ4011. Also for 1980 the procedure code changed to PXY. In 1981 the secondary color changed again to PZ4004.  With the procedure code for 1981 same as 1980 (PXY). If this informative little tag is missing, verification will be much more difficult.

Typically missing also is the under hood equipment label. It was laminated and stuck to the underside of the hood. If it's there and original and readable, GOOD! If not keep searching. Look for original paperwork, a build sheet, schedule notice, window sticker, something with the VIN and the MACHO package spelled out. Even vintage photos can help, plus they're COOL! Ask the owner.

Still nothing? Then it may be very hard to prove that it's a MACHO, but you may still be able to make your own decision after looking for a few more clues:

Any parts of the stripes remaining, around the door edges, around the wheel lips, edges of the hood? Is it the original bed? Did it have a factory roll bar? The supports mounted to the front slope of the wheel humps. If it's the original bed and no roll bar mounting holes then it's not a MACHO. 

77 and 78 came standard with Black buckets. Optional on 79 and 80. On the 77 and 78, does it still have the rear cab moulding or did it? This separated the Black from the body color. 79, and 80 DO NOT have the cab moulding. For 79 and 80 MACHOs, is the interior black? Is the engine compartment black? For 79 and 80 they should be.

Original wheels or original spare? Easily changed but certainly add something to the MACHO story. Original bumpers should be painted. Bumpers are often changed, most often rears in favor of step type. But original black painted bumpers are another good clue. The more trucks you look at the easier it will be to ID them.

This guide cannot guarantee what you've found, but as these trucks become more valuable there will no doubt be fakes. The more you pay the more certain you should be.

And last, if you have what you think is an ODD color Macho or an 81 MACHO truck, share it with the rest of us. There are always new discoveries that change what we think we know about these trucks.

Now go check out that grey primer 79 and see if it had a factory roll bar!

Jeff Herman lives in Carson City, Nevada and has been a Dodge Truck fan since getting his first love in 1977, a 1952 Job Rated 1/2 ton short bed nicknamed the "MUDHEN." Not quite as stunning as the Brand New Machos that were hitting the streets at the time, but Jeff says, “It never let me down.” Jeff still owns the MUDHEN along with around 30 other Dodge trucks and is still searching for an original 1981 Macho.

Special acknowledgment and thanks to two guys Jeff refers to as "the real experts," Sam Bledsoe of California and Bob Falkenhagen of Michigan for answering questions and helping check facts.