Segment Two: 1929 to 1932 Early Chrysler Pickups

Author: Don Bunn
This segment of Dodge truck history consists of that short period of time between when Mr. Chysler purchased the Dodge Brothers Company and when Chrysler released an all-new series of trucks designed and engineered by Chrysler employees.

Chrysler Corporation began production of Fargo trucks in August 1928 and ceased production in November 1930. A 1929 Fargo half-ton Packet Panel is shown. It was powered by a four cylinder engine and featured 4-wheel hydraulic brakes. It sold for $845 in its prime. Photo: DaimlerChrysler

The half-ton Merchants Express Panel was new in 1928, a 1929 model is shown. Its wheelbase was 109-inches. It was powered by the 175.4 cubic inch four cylinder Plymouth engine mated to a 3-speed transmission. Its load space was six feet long through two full-length rear doors. Wood spoke wheels were standard equipment. Photo: DaimlerChrysler

Mr. Chrysler founded his company in 1925; in 1928 he purchased Dodge Brothers and introduced three new nameplates -- Plymouth, DeSoto, and Fargo trucks. The three new nameplates were started from scratch. The plan was for Plymouth to compete against Ford and Chevrolet; DeSoto would have been positioned between Plymouth and Chrysler but with the addition of Dodge, DeSoto was slotted between Dodge and Chrysler. Fargo trucks were designed and engineered to be the corporation's truck line. These trucks had no relationship to Dodge trucks. They shared engines and other mechanical and sheet metal parts with DeSoto and Plymouth. Fargos were exceptionally good looking trucks. Chrysler dropped the Fargo line after the 1929 model year. The name continued for many years as a badge engineered Dodge truck sold in Canada and for export.
It was the Dodge Brothers' practice to begin their new model year on July 1. Mr. Chrysler closed on his purchase of Dodge in early July 1928. Consequently the 1929 model Dodge trucks were designed and engineered by the "old" Dodge Company. Interestingly the first ever half-ton Dodge pickup was the 1929 model, the "Merchants Express". It was a companion model to the half-ton Merchants Express panel which was new in 1928. Both trucks were, for their time, exceptionally fast and handsomely styled. At the beginning of the 1929 model year the entire Dodge car and truck lines were powered by six cylinder engines. The largest 1929 Dodge truck was a big, powerful three-ton which featured a 241 cubic inch, 78 horsepower six cylinder with a heavy duty 4-speed transmission and 4-wheel hydraulic brakes.

The first Dodge half-ton pickup was the 1929 Merchants Express pickup (shown). Its short five foot wooden cargo box was covered with steel. Its drivetrain was the same as the Merchants Express panel. Photo: DaimlerChrysler

Late in the 1929 model year the 45 horsepower 175.4 cubic inch four cylinder engine became the standard engine for half and 3/4 ton trucks. The four cylinder engine was from Plymouth and before that from Maxwell. Maxwell was the predecessor company to the Chrysler Corporation. The 208 cubic inch, 63 horsepower Dodge six was standard for one-ton trucks and the 241 cubic inch engine was standard for 1 1/2, two, and three-ton trucks. In 1929 Dodge built 1/2, 3/4, one, 1 1/2, two, and three-ton pickups in 6,7,9,10, and 12 foot body lengths. The larger models had the dual rear wheel option.

Dodge powered a 1 1/2-ton series in 1932 with the 196 cubic inch 4-cylinder engine. The pickup shown has a 131-inch wheelbase with a 99 1/4 inch long cargo box. A 212 cubic-inch 6-cylinder powered engine was an option. The four sold for $695 and the six sold for $765. Photo: Don Bunn

This 1932 Dodge half-ton pickup was the last model of this type of truck. Actually this style was sold early in model year 1933 before the new trucks began rolling of the assembly lines. It was powered by the 196 cubic inch L-head engine mated to a 3-speed transmission. Its cargo box was only 5-feet in length. Photo: Don Bunn

During the 1921 model year Dodge entered into an agreement with the Graham Brothers Company whereby Graham would manufacture trucks of one-ton capacity and larger to be sold exclusively through Dodge dealers. These trucks were built in Graham plants using engines, transmissions, frames, front axles, and front end sheet metal built by Dodge and cabs and bodies built in Graham plants. This relationship worked so well that Graham Brothers became a division of Dodge Brothers on October 6, 1924. In November 1925 Dodge Brothers bought a 51 percent majority position in Graham Brothers. Late in 1926 the name plates of all trucks changed from Dodge Brothers Graham Brothers (no change was made in the product). As soon as possible after purchasing Dodge Brothers, Mr. Chrysler changed the name plates on all trucks back to Dodge Brothers -- early in January 1929.

Next Segment:

1933 - 1935: Glamour Pickups