Segment Eight: 1957 to 1960 Power Giant Pickups

Author: Don Bunn

Power Giant pickups were a continuation of the C-Series pickups. C-Series frames and wheelbases continued without change as did cabs and cargo boxes. Changes in style from year-to-year were more or less limited to the sheet metal from the cowl forward. As a matter of fact, the Dodge truck cab which was new in midyear 1955 was used through the 1975 model year on most medium and heavy duty trucks and on heavy duty trucks built for export only through the 1978 model year.

The four Power Giant years can easily be divided into two segments of two years each: 1957 to 1958 and 1959 to 1960. This division was due to the addition of the new Sweptline cargo box in 1959. The traditional narrow cargo box was continued without change. The Sweptline cargo boxes' differed in lengths as well as widths from the old box, but we will get into those details later.

Note the "100" model number plate on the fender of this 1957 Dodge half-ton pickup. This was the first year Dodge used the industry standard nominal rating system -- D100 through D900.

The standard 230 cubic inch L-six engine's output was increased to 115 horsepower in 1956 and to 120 horsepower in 1957. It continued as the standard engine for all light-duty trucks through the 1960 model year. A new 204 horsepower 315 cubic inch V-8 engine became the optional engine for all 1957-1958 light-duty trucks.

A new light-duty engine was introduced for the 1959 trucks. This was the first 318 cubic inch V-8 rated for 205 horsepower in 1959 and for only 200 horsepower in 1960. Dodge's famous Hemi engine saw its last duty in medium- and heavy-duty trucks in the 1959 model year.

Dodge designers introduced an all new front appearance -- from the cowl forward -- for the 1957 pickups. The new look was part of Chrysler Corporation's "Forward Look" design for all Corporate vehicles.

Left to Right: A 1958 Dodge D100 half-ton pickup, a D100 half-ton Town Panel and a half-ton Sweptside pickup. Note its full chrome wheel covers, grille bars, hood-side chrome trim, chrome side spears running from hood to the rear fenders and bumpers. This Sweptside also has the big back window.

Other important new features for the 1957 trucks included for the first time ever a full opening hood, power steering, power brakes, 12-volt ignition system, tubeless tires and push-button LoadFlite automatic transmission. The only new models (we will cover the new Power Wagon in a later segment) for 1957 were the interesting Dodge Sweptside half-ton pickup and the Town Wagon, a Suburban-type cargo / people mover. The Sweptside was designed to give Dodge dealers something to sell against Chevrolet's Cameo and Ford's Ranchero.

Half-ton 1957 Dodge pickups had either a 6 1/2- or 7 1/2-foot cargo box on 108 and 116-inch wheelbases respectively. The 3/4-ton pickup had a 116-inch wheelbase and carried a 7 1/2-foot box. The one-ton rode on a 126-inch wheelbase chassis and carried a 9-foot box.

Except for a mildly restyled hood and grille, the 1958 pickups carried over without further changes -- pickup models, engines, transmissions, wheelbases, cargo boxes, etc.

Dodge's first cab-wide, smooth side Sweptline cargo box was new in 1959. Shown is a 9-foot Sweptline D300 pickup. A flathead six was its standard engine and the new 318 V-8 was optional at extra cost.

The 1959 pickups were given a fresh new grille design and concealed running boards hidden behind the cab doors. The optional Power Giant engine was upgraded to a 205 horsepower 318 cubic inch V8. The important new 1959 model was the Sweptline pickup with a smooth, cab-wide cargo box for half-, 3/4- and one-ton pickups. The half-ton 108-inch wheelbase Sweptline and Utiline, featured a 6 1/2-foot cargo box, but the 116-inch wheelbase Sweptline had a 8 1/4-foot box compared to a 7 1/2-foot box for the Utiline pickup. Inside widths for the two types were 54- and 70 1/4-inches respectively. The 3/4-ton Utiline and Sweptline's boxes were the same sizes as that of larger half-tons and the boxes for the 126-inch wheelbase one-tons were 9-feet long. Dual rear wheels were offered for the one-ton Utiline only which gave it a maximum GVW rating of 9,000 pounds.

The half-ton 1960 Dodge D100 Sweptline pickup was sold with either a 7 1/2-foot cargo box, shown, or a 6 1/2-foot box.

The last year of the Power Giant Era was 1960. The only changes included a new grille design, the 318's output fell to only 200 horsepower and new suspended brake and clutch pedals. Pickup transmission options continued to include the 3-speed synchro for D100; 3-speed synchro with overdrive for V-8 D100s; 3-speed synchro HD, standard in D200 and extra for D100; 3-speed synchro extra-HD for D200 and D300; 4-speed synchro standard in D300 and optional for D100, D200 models and LoadFlite push-button automatic for all pickups.

Next Segment :

1961-1971: Sweptline Pickups