Segment Four: 1936 to 1938 Fore-Point Pickups

Author: Don Bunn
Dodge truck sales hit rock bottom in 1932, but so did the rest of the industry as this was the year which proved to be the worst of the Great Depression . Fortunately Chrysler's fortunes reversed and sales increased by a factor of eight during the Glamour years of 1933 to 1935. Mr. Chrysler was never one to sit still. His company fielded an interesting, modern, and advanced line of trucks in 1936.

A new 1936 Dodge Fore-Point half-ton pickup is shown on the left. Note the front-end differences between it and the two 1933-1935 trucks to its right. Notice how the radiator grille of the 1936 truck has been moved ahead of the front fenders. The new pickup shown is a rather deluxe model as can be seen by its chrome plated radiator shell and headlights. Highland Park, Michigan is the suburb of Detroit where the Chrysler Corporation was located until the 1990s. The Fore-Point half-ton pickup featured a new six-foot long all steel cargo box. The list price of this pickup was $500 delivered at the factory. (Photo: DaimlerChrysler)

The new trucks featured Fore-Point load distribution which was a fancy term marketing used for their construction. Dodge engineers moved the front axles forward which shifted the load forward in relation to the axles. This way the front axles carried more of the load's weight than previously able. Fore-Point resulted in greater stability and allowed for a minimum over-all length.

This 1936 Dodge half-ton pickup, Commercial Express was its official name, is shown outside the factory. The factory was located in Detroit at that time, not in Highland Park. The truck shown has a special paint scheme. The standard practice was to paint the four fenders, running boards, the filler panel located between the running boards, and the cab and cargo box black. The factory applied the special paint on this truck per the customer's specifications. (Photo: DaimlerChrysler).

Another major change in the construction of 1936 light-duty trucks was the adoption of a truck-type frame featuring parallel side rails with double drops and five heavy cross members. Moving the front axle forward and the change to a truck-type frame meant that for the first time Dodge half-ton commercials were real trucks. The Commercial Sedan (Sedan Delivery) was the only exception as it was a modified 2-door Dodge sedan.
The half-ton trucks had a 116-inch wheelbase which replaced the 111 1/4- and 119-inch wheelbase of the 1935 series. By shifting the engine and cab forward the CA (cab-to-rear-axle) dimension of 37 11/16-inches permitted the use of a 72-inch body for excellent load distribution.

The half-ton models continued to be powered by the 70 horsepower 201 cubic inch L-head six cylinder engine. The 3-speed synchro-silent transmission was easy to shift with a floor mounted lever. Rear axle ratio options included a 3.7 and 4.1 to 1 for excellent performance. Standard tire size was 6.00x16s.

Late in the 1935 model year Dodge began offering a 3/4 to one ton truck series. These trucks were simply 1 1/2-ton trucks built with lighter/smaller wheels, tires, and springs. Body models offered included a pickup, panel, canopy, and screenside. The same models continued into the Fore-Point series. What is interesting is that the same truck, whether rated as a 3/4-, one-, or 1 1/2-ton, sold for the same price.

This 1936 Dodge 3/4-1 ton panel is typical of the 3/4-1 ton series which was introduced in the 1935 model year. As you can see this truck was built down from a 1 1/2-ton truck. A pickup, canopy, panel, and screenside made up the entire 3/4-1 ton model line. These trucks were part of the light-duty series. (Photo: DaimlerChrysler)

All 1937 Dodge trucks were given this modern "high safety" instrument panel. The entire cab interior was trimmed in an attractive gray material and the instrument panel was painted gray. At the center bottom of the dash were located the control knobs for headlights, throttle, choke, and panel lights. (Photo: DaimlerChrysler)

Maximum gross vehicle weight rating for the 3/4-ton series was 5700 pounds, 6200 pounds for the one-ton, and 7000 or 9500 pounds for the 1 1/2- tonners (with single or dual rears). All models were equipped with the same 201 cubic inch six cylinder engine, 4-speed transmission, and 10-inch clutch.

The 1937 Dodge trucks carried over with only minor appearance changes but they featured an entirely new instrument panel. The new panel was quite attractive and boasted of being "high safety" for all its controls were set flush, no knobs or controls projected from the dashboards to cause injury in case of a crash.

Early in 1937 Dodge management introduced a new 3/4-1 ton series. The series differed from the previous 3/4-1 ton models in that the new trucks were styled with the same look as the half-ton trucks; not as lighter models of a larger truck. Models offered included a panel, pickup, canopy, and screen. Dodge 3/4-1 ton trucks were available on both 120- and 136-inch wheelbase chassis designed for mounting seven or nine-foot bodies.

The 1937 Dodge Commercial Express had almost the same appearance as the 1936 model except that its grille bars were horizontal rather than vertical. This truck rode on a 116-inch wheelbase and featured the new 218 cubic inch L-head six cylinder engine which it shared with all light duty 1937 trucks. (Photo: DaimlerChrysler)

A 75 horsepower 218 cubic inch L-head six cylinder was the new standard power plant for 1937 / 1938 half-ton and 3/4-1 ton series. A 3-speed transmission was also standard for all light-duty trucks.

Dodge introduced a new 1937 3/4-1 ton series which included pickup, canopy, screen, panel, and stake models. The pickup was built on two wheelbase lengths of 120- and 136-inches with cargo boxes 7- and 9- feet long respectively. All other models--canopy, screen, panel, and stake were built on the 136-inch wheelbase only. The four men shown are inspecting the new 1937 136-inch wheelbase pickup with a 9-foot box. As you can see, the new 3/4-1 ton series had the same appearance as the half-ton trucks. Standard drivetrain consisted of the 218 cubic-inch six and a 3-speed transmission. (Photo Daimler Chrysler)

The only change of note for 1938 Dodge trucks was a restyled grille. The Dodge truck line also included a 1 1/2-, two-, and three-ton series and the four-ton custom- built Airflow during the Fore-Point Era of 1936 to 1938.

The 1938 models continued without change except for a new grille as shown on this 3/4-1 ton 136-inch wheelbase pickup with a side-mounted spare tire and wheel. Dodge's complete truck line for 1938 consisted of half-, 3/4-, 1-, 1 1/2-, 2-, and 3-ton models plus the custom-built 4-ton Airflow. (Photo: DaimlerChrysler)

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1939-1947 Job-Rated Pickups