Segment Fourteen: 1940 to 1980
Power Wagon Pickups
Author: Don Bunn
Wagons date back to 1940. I should mention however the 1934 Dodge
1 1/2-ton 4 wheel drive military cargo truck. This truck is historically
important because it was the first 4 wheel drive in which the driver
could shift into and out of 4 wheel drive mode using a shift lever
inside the cab.
built 4WD 1 1/2-ton military cargo trucks in 1938, 1939 and 1940.
The government then decided they preferred to have Dodge build light-duty
4WD trucks and contracted for a series of half-ton trucks. The 1940
VC Series trucks used the civilian truck's front end sheet metal
and carried various body types. A total of 4,641 VCs were produced.
They performed excellently and convinced the Army they were on the
This is the
1934 Dodge 1 1/2-ton Cargo and Personnel truck which was the first
4WD vehicle that could be shifted into and out of 4WD from inside
the cab. Photo - DaimlerChrysler
A 1940 Dodge
1 1/2-ton Cargo and Personnel truck. It featured civilian front
sheet metal and a heavy-duty grille guard. Photo - DaimlerChrysler
were replaced in 1941 with the WC Series half-ton trucks. This series
featured military front sheet metal. A total of almost 78,000 WC half-tons
were built in several body styles. These trucks were a decided improvement
over the VC Series but nevertheless the Army still felt they were
engineers returned to the drawing boards and developed the 1942 3/4-ton
WC Series trucks. These trucks had a lower silhouette, were wider,
more powerful, heavier and offered in a broader range of body types.
After intensive testing the Army approved them for mass production.
A total of 225,196 trucks of all body types were produced for WWII.
In addition, another 43,278 6x6 1 1/2-ton models were built beginning
in 1943. The 1 1/2-ton WC-62 and WC-63 6x6s were basically the 3/4-ton
trucks with a third driven axle, a longer cargo body and a two-speed
transfer case (the 3/4-ton models had a one-speed transfer case).
The 1941 Dodge
1/2-ton carryall was powered by the 218 flathead six and it was
mated to a 4-speed transmission and a 1-speed transfer case. Photo
The 1943 Dodge
WC-62 1 1/2-ton 6x6 open cab cargo truck was equipped with a 2-speed
transfer case, a 230 cubic inch six and a 4-speed transmission.
Photo - DaimlerChrysler
Power Wagon was introduced in 1946. It was based on the 3/4-ton
Army truck's chassis with a civilian cab and a purpose designed
8-foot cargo box. It rode on a 126-inch wheelbase chassis and featured
the 230 cubic-inch flat head six engine, a two-speed transfer case,
a 4-speed transmission with a power take off opening which would
send power to the front and back of the truck for operating auxiliary
equipment and big 9.00/16-8 ply tires on 16X6.50 inch 5-stud wheels.
The nominal one-ton rated Power Wagon's maximum GVW rating was 8,700
pounds. Its maximum payload was 3,000 pounds.
The 1946 Dodge
Power Wagon was based on the WWII 3/4-ton military truck. It featured
a 230 cubic-inch engine, 2-speed transfer case and a 4-speed transmission
with power takeoff opening. The front mounted front power winch
was an option. Photo - DaimlerChrysler
The Power Wagon
was sold through the 1968 model year. A number of engineering and
styling improvements were made over the years but the basic package
remained surprisingly constant throughout its life. Chrysler discontinued
the sale of the Power Wagon in the United States after the 1968
model year because its almost 30 year old cab would not comply with
new federal light-duty truck safety regulations, but they continued
to be built for export through the 1978 model year.
conventional cab 4WD pickup was the 1957 W100 half-ton shown. A
3/4-ton W200 was also offered, the one-ton W300 followed in 1958.
Power for these trucks came from the buyer's choice of either a
six or a V8, a push-button automatic transmission was an option.
Photo - DaimlerChrysler
the next new Power Wagon model was a two-ton truck, not a light-duty
model. It was the industry's first and only factory built medium-duty
The first light-duty
Power Wagons came out in 1957 with the introduction of the W100
and W200 pickups (beginning in 1957 1/2-ton 2WDs were D100s and
4WDs were W100s). These trucks featured conventional cabs and front
sheet metal and the cargo boxes used on the 2WD models. Their 4WD
mechanical components -- axles, transfer cases and transmissions
-- were sourced from outside manufacturers. Chrysler Corporation
owned the New Process Gear Company, the manufacturer of all the
transfer cases used in the industry and many of the light-duty truck
A one-ton W300
Power Wagon came online in 1958. For the next ten years Dodge Truck's
Power Wagon lineup consisted of the "military- type" W300M
and W100, W200 and W300 "civilian-type" Power Wagons.
Standard models included pickups and chassis cabs only. Through
1965 W100 Power Wagon Town Panels and Town Wagons were also standard
models. In 1966 a W200 Crew Cab pickup was added to the line.
W500 Power Wagon (only a chassis cab was built) lasted through the
1977 model year when all Dodge medium-duty models were discontinued.
To compensate for the loss of the medium-duty W500 a new W400 chassis
cab was introduced in 1977.
sales received a shot in the arm in 1974 when the popular Dodge
Club Cab pickup was announced. This model was favored by the pickup
camper crowd for on-highway and/or off-road service.
added the big-block 383 V8 engine to their light-duty truck lineup
as an option in 1967. A 1968 W200 Camper Special pickup powered
by a 383 is shown. Photo - Robert Bunn
1977 W200 pickup was the Army's first conventional light-duty truck
since early in WWII. This 1977 Dodge M880 pickup is owned by Rob
Kramer who lives in the Netherlands and uses his Dodge for daily
transportation. Photo - Don Bunn
The 1977 Dodge
Top Hand Power Wagon pickup was a creation of Hickey Enterprises
of Ventura, CA. Hickey was an accessory and parts dealer for vans,
pickups and mini-pickups. Photo - DaimlerChrysler
late 1970's "Adult Toys" line of specialty equipped and
painted Warlock and Macho Power Wagons appealed to young 4WD buyers
interested in performance.
1975 Dodge, like the rest of the industry, changed to a full-time
4WD system. In 1980 engineers changed this back to a part-time system
due to the energy crises.
1977-1978 Dodge W200 pickup -- both standard cab and crew cab --
was the M880, a 1 1/4-ton rated military truck. At this point in
time the Army needed a new light-duty 4WD vehicle to replace its
fleet of Vietnam Era Dodge 3/4-ton and M37B1s. Army decision makers
thought it was more economical to purchase standard pickups to engineer
a specialized light-duty 4WD. The M880s were basically standard
W200s with a civilian 2-speed full-time transfer case, 318 V8s,
automatic transmissions, Dana axles front and rear and four-wheel
The well known
and respected Power Wagon nameplate ceased to be used when the new
1981 Dodge Trucks were introduced. The 1981 4WD pickup carried a
"Power Ram" nameplate instead. Some have called the Power
Wagon Years the Four-By-Four-By-Forty-Years Era (1940-1980).
The 1980 W150
Club Cab pickup shown was one of the last Power Wagons. Photo -
It is almost
certain that the Power Wagon name will return when Dodge presents
a new light-duty truck series in 2002.
Some of the
design sketches used to illustrate the Power
Wagon Concept Truck displayed at the January 1999 North American
International Auto Show