Segment Six: 1948 to 1953 B-Series Pickups

Author: Don Bunn
The B-Series trucks were by far the finest and most advanced pickups of their day. This may seem like a bold statement in light of the fact that Chevrolet and Ford both announced important new truck series at the same time: Chevrolet in June 1947, Dodge in December 1947 and Ford in January 1948. The three auto divisions announced their first post War automobiles as 1949 models.

This Dodge B-1-B-116 half-ton 116-inch wheelbase pickup with less than 25,000 miles is an original truck including its tires and muffler. It is painted dark green with a black 6 1/2-foot cargo box. This was the standard paint design during the B-Series years. This 1949 model is typical of years 1948 to 1950. You can see the truck at the Walter P. Chrysler Museum. (Photo: DaimlerChrysler)

This 1950 Dodge B-2-C-116 3/4-ton pickup was owned by the author. It had the 218 cubic inch L-six, a four speed transmission and overload springs. It was a great truck! (Photo: Don Bunn)

Lets take a look at the B-Series truck features which put Dodge ahead of the competition. First of all was its advanced, handsome cab styling. Dodge designers referred to it as the Pilothouse safety cab. This was in reference to the improvements in visibility over the previous cab. It was achieved from Chrysler's famous "chair height" seat and from improved driver visibility through the higher and wider windshield, door glass and rear window. New optional cab rear quarter windows eliminated those former dangerous blind areas.

Secondly, Dodge engineers set the front axles and wheels of all models eight inches further back than the former trucks and moved the engine slightly forward (similar in concept to 1936-1938's Fore-Point load distribution).

As before this resulted in shifting more of the payload to the front axle and allowed greater payload ratings without adding more weight to the rear axle and springs.
A significant improvement in driveability was achieved by changing over to a cross-steering arrangement. Cross-steering, in combination with the new wide tread front axle, provided a 37-degree turn angle either right or left because the drag link ran almost parallel with the front axle and did not interfere with the left front tire on left turns. The B-Series featured long flexible springs and shock absorbers to provide a comfortable, controlled ride. If you want to treat yourself to a real pleasure, find a restored B-Series pickup and take it for a test drive. You will prove to yourself how maneuverable and easy to steer and drive these remarkable trucks are. You will be amazed that a 50 year old truck could deliver this level of driveability.

This 1948 Dodge one-ton B-1-D-126 pickup carried a 9-foot box. It was powered by a 230 cubic inch L-six. (Photo: Dick Copello)

The author owns this 1952 Dodge half-ton B-3-B-108 high-side pickup. He purchased it in 1973 and completed its restoration in 1980. Since then it has clocked 5,088 miles. This grille is typical of 1951-1953 trucks. (Photo: Don Bunn)

The B-Series advanced design highlights included modern, cab-wide front fenders. Notice for yourself how the front fenders of the Other Two retained the old fashioned 1930s style. Dodge designers brought the lines of the front fenders back and smoothly integrated them into the cab doors.

You know the B-Series pickups are hard working, heavy haulers by their new extra deep cargo boxes. The cubic capacity of cargo space was greatly increased from the former pickup series. Dodge B-Series pickups were famous for moving loads, consequently most B-Series pickups were sold with 4-speed transmissions and overload springs.

When this retired fire truck was found by the author in 1988 it had only 7,000 miles on it. It is a 1953 Dodge 3/4-ton pickup model B-4-C-116. Its fenders were new for 1953. It was powered by the 218 cubic inch L-six coupled to a 4-speed transmission. (Photo: Don Bunn)

Drivetrains for the B-Series were unchanged from the 1947 -- they consisted of the 95 horsepower 218 six for half- and 3/4-ton trucks and the 102 horsepower 230 six for the one-tons. A 3-speed transmission was standard for all models and the 4-speed was optional.

The half-ton pickup's wheelbase was 108-inches and its cargo box was 6 1/2-feet long. The 3/4-ton's specs were 116-inch wheelbase and 7 1/2-foot cargo box. The one-ton included a 116-inch wheelbase and a 126-inch wheelbase with a 7 1/2- and 9-foot cargo box respectively.

Dodge built two one-ton B-Series pickups. A 1953 one-ton B-4-D-126 is shown. It has a 126-inch wheelbase and a 9-foot cargo box. Its drivetrain consists of a 230 cubic inch L-six and a 4-speed transmission. (Photo: Dick Copello)

Next Segment:

1954-1956 C-Series Pickups