Segment Seven: 1954 to 1956 C-Series Pickups

Author: Don Bunn
C-Series pickups will be known forever as the first V-8 powered Dodge trucks. The thoroughly modern lightweight, compact 241 cubic inch Power-Dome V-8 engine featured overhead valves, 145 horsepower and 215 lb. ft. gross torque at only 2,400 rpm. It was optional equipment for all light-duty trucks. The dependable Dodge L-head 218 ci, 100 horsepower six continued as standard equipment for half- and 3/4-ton models. The 230 CI, 110 horsepower L-head six was the standard engine for one-ton trucks.

The 1952 B-2-B-108 half-ton pickup sitting beside a 1954 C-1-B-108 shows us at a glance the big difference in style and lower overall height between the two series. (Photo: Don Bunn and Beth Schafer)

The low-side cargo box seen on this 1954 C-1-B-108 half-ton pickup was standard for all half-, 3/4- and one-ton C-Series pickups. The high-side box was an $8.75 retail extra cost option.

Overshadowing the light-duty V-8 were the Hemi V-8 engines powering medium- and heavy-duty trucks. Dodge engineers released three Hemis for these trucks. The small Hemi used in 1 1/2-, 2-, and 2 1/2-ton trucks was the 133 horsepower 241 CI V-8 producing 220 lb. ft. gross torque. The big Hemi engines were standard in 2 3/4-, 3- and 3 1/2-ton trucks. These 331 CI V-8s had either a single or double barrel carburetor. Power outputs were 153 and 172 horsepower and 268 and 294 lb. ft. torque respectively. These engines gave buyers of Dodge heavy-duty trucks higher average highway speeds and better performance in hilly country driving a low-priced truck than was available if they had purchased one of the high priced trucks.

C-Series trucks featured all-new modern styling. They were new from the frames up. Wheelbases remained the same as before. The new frame design permitted maximum front wheel clearance to maintain Dodge's industry leading maneuverability and tight turning radius. Dodge engineers curved the frame rails forward of the front axle inward to permit the front wheels to turn tighter. The cab sat lower on the frame for easier entry and exit and featured vastly increased glass areas for excellent driver visibility and thus safety. The single piece curved windshield was a modern styling touch.

Dodge's pickup lineup continued the B-Series' pattern, that is 6 1/2- and 7 1/2- foot cargo box for half-ton pickups, a 7 1/2-foot for the 3/4-ton model and 7 1/2- and 9-foot boxes for the one-tons. The big one-ton's boasted of a maximum payload capacity of 4,250 lb. The 9-foot cargo boxes' cubic capacity was a whopping 67 1/2-cubic feet.


This rear view of a 1956 Dodge B-3-B half-ton pickup affords an excellent view of its new cab-wide wraparound rear window. (Photo: Clayton Miller)

As a midyear 1955 model Dodge engineers introduced a seriously revised cab with a "Pilot-House" or "Full-Circle" wraparound windshield and cab-wide rear window for even better visibility. The trucks were offered with the highest level of cab interior trim and exterior ornamentation than any previously offered Dodge pickup. New features included two-tone paint schemes and bright new upholstery colors. The upscale cabs displayed new Custom and Custom Regal nameplates.

The "Forward-Look" emblem on this C-3-C-116 long box half-ton pickup tells us it is a 1956 model. A left side mounted spare tire was a factory installed option. (Photo: Bob Seymour)

The dependable 218 CI L-6 engine which had powered half- and 3/4-ton trucks since 1942 was dropped in favor of the slightly larger 110 horsepower 230 cubic L-6. The 241 CI V-8, Dodge's first OHV V-8. These engines continued through the 1956 model year.

Wheelbases and cargo box lengths for half-, 3/4- and one-ton pickups remained unchanged from 1954 through 1956.

Dodge engineers broadened the light-duty truck's transmission offerings in 1955 to include a fully automatic PowerFlite transmission and a gas-saving overdrive unit mated to the normal-duty 3-speed transmission. PowerFlite was an option on all light-duty pickups, overdrive was limited to the half-ton.

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1957-1960 Power Giant Pickups