1961 Dodge Power Wagon WM300

 

Over $20,000 Invested in Restoration, 251 Motor and Cowl Lights

 

 

History

 

In early 1946, Dodge announced an addition to its lineup as "the truck that needs no roads."The truck in question was the 1946-1968 Dodge Power Wagon, model WDX, a new multipurpose vehicle born from Dodge's experience building four-wheel-drive trucks for American and allied military forces in World War II.

It was then one of only two factory-complete general-use 4×4s available in the USA -- the other being the Willys Jeep -- making it a pioneer in bringing the capability of four-wheel drive to a broader audience.

No doubt Dodge executives of the 1940s couldn't have imagined the huge market for personal-use four-wheel-drive trucks that exists today. When the Power Wagon was introduced in January 1946, the division described it as a one-ton general-purpose truck designed for off-highway operations on unimproved roads.

Neither, it's safe to assume, could they have foreseen the Power Wagon's staying power. Despite "war surplus" looks and L-head powerplants, it would remain on the domestic scene until 1968, then last another decade for export under a U.S. government program.

Four-wheel-drive trucks were hardly a new thing when the Power Wagon came out. They had been around since the time of World War I. However, these were heavy-duty vehicles strictly for commercial or military use. Beginning in the 1930s, it was possible for the owners of light trucks to have conversions to four-wheel drive performed by firms like Marmon-Herrington, but these special-order vehicles tended to be bought by businesses or agencies with very specific needs. "Average Joes" had little exposure to 4×4s -- at least until they became "G.I. Joes.

World War II impressed the capability of multiaxle drive upon many a soldier who was served by -- or even fought with -- four- and six-wheel-drive vehicles. Willys' little ¼-ton scout car became a battlefield legend and spurred the company to place the Jeep CJ on the postwar consumer market.

Still, the Power Wagon's martial roots ran deep. Dodge's involvement with four-wheel-drive military vehicles began in 1934 when it built a ½-ton cargo truck for the Army. It had the world's first drive system that could be conveniently shifted in and out of four-wheel mode by working a control lever in the cab.

The introduction of the 1946 Dodge Power Wagon to the open market came with these words: "The Dodge Power-Wagon is without competition. No other truck manufacturer offers a model that is at all comparable. The Dodge Power-Wagon was designed and built to meet a definite need. It is a vehicle built for continuous operation under extreme conditions. Four-wheel-drive gives it tractive ability for off-the-road service that would stall an ordinary truck. It takes you places you wouldn't expect any truck to go."

At a base price of $1,627, the Power Wagon cost $551 to $591 more than a conventional Dodge two-wheel-drive one-ton pickup, a substantial difference back then. However, the division constantly emphasized the fact that the Power Wagon was unique as a result of its four-wheel-drive capability and ruggedness that made it as at-home off the road as on. Dodge sold the Power Wagon on three premises: It could be used for pulling, as in a tractor pulling a plow; portable power, as in running a saw; or carrying, as a truck carries a load.

Beginning in 1949, the Monroe Auto Equipment Company of Monroe, Michigan, manufactured a hydraulic lift kit and a complete line of agricultural and road-building tools for the Power Wagon. The lift kit consisted of a hydraulic pump and valve unit mounted on the front of the engine, a three-point implement hitch located at the rear, and a control lever installed in the cab.

The available implements were a plow, cultivator, rotary hoe, terracing blade, harrow, hydro grader, land leveler, a lift-type scoop, earthmover, buzz saw, posthole digger, spring-tooth harrow, and double-disc harrow. Dodge advertised that the Power Wagon could easily pull a three-bottom 14-inch plow and encouraged farmers to use the Power Wagon in place of a conventional tractor for all of their farming jobs.

With the winch and tail shaft and appropriate equipment, a Power Wagon could sweep streets, remove snow, stretch wire fences, remove rocks and stumps, operate belt-driven equipment, load logs, hoist pilings, and install pipes.

The Power Wagon's ability to serve as a portable power source was due to a two-sided power take-off next to the transmission. Power could be transmitted forward to the winch or rearward through the tail shaft.

Alterations over the years were few -- tinted windows and power brakes in 1953, power steering and synchromesh transmission in 1957, an alternator and larger six in 1961, lock-out hubs in 1962.

When it was withdrawn from the U.S. market in 1968, production had reached 95,145. Still, the Power Wagon wouldn't die, for it was destined to soldier on in export markets through the late 1970s. That's greater longevity than the Model T and equal to the VW Beetle.

Most history taken from:

from http://auto.howstuffworks.com/1948-dodge-power-wagon.htm

and the excellent and full history article here:

http://auto.howstuffworks.com/1946-1968-dodge-power-wagon.htm

 

This Truck

 

When WM300 Power Wagons like this one come up for sale they can sometimes fall into one of two categories: $30,000 to $150,000 restored show trucks, or farm fresh basket-cases needing total restoration. Decent driver quality trucks that are meant to be used can sometimes be hard to find. This truck is a fun driver that you won't be afraid to get dirty and put some miles on, or actually use for some of the things it was designed to do.

The truck recently underwent a cosmetic and mechanical refurbishing that reportedly cost over $20,000. The previous owner gave me an itemized list of the cost breakdown and the truck does come with a stack of receipts, owner's manual and workshop manual.

This example features the more powerful 251 cubic inch motor but still retains the neat cowl-mounted spotlights (being pre '64.) The restoration work, which was completed within the last year, included the following:

-New power king tires/flaps, rim reconditioning, refurbished split rims

-New fuel cell

-Strip and repaint

-Replace and wire cowl lights, headlights, signals, brake lights

-Brakes, rebuild master cylinder cylinder and install new shoes 

-Replace emblems

-Replace window safety glass and door latches w/handles

-Install windshield weatherstrip with window crank and carriage

-New GM wiring harness/ fuse box and lights wired 

-Quadro tech Mojave heater with wiring and hoses 

-Replace lock out hubs and hardware including new brass bushings 

-Reupholster seat and recondition springs 

-Install 8' flat bed, sandblasted and painted, rebuilt hoist and 2" black oak decking

Condition

 

The nice thing about this truck is all the heavy lifting has already been done. All of the more expensive restoration work has already happened. The electrical system was gone through and it runs off an all new GM wiring harness, so all the lights and signals work. It sits on new rubber. The frame was sanded and painted. This truck has basically been set up to be enjoyed and used. The paint is just driver quality, with a imperfections here and there and the bottom of the cab is a little dented up, but, in our opinion, nothing that takes away from the overall great look of the truck. It's a bit rough around the edges but with some basic cosmetic work it could shine up rather well. People go nuts over it and the color suits it perfectly.

There are some odds and ends that haven't been sorted out yet. The window channels need adjusting and the side window glass have a few cracks, which you would probably want to replace. It is missing windshield wiper motors. The new weatherstripping gasket set from Vintage Power Wagons needs to be installed, as well as the battery hold down. The gauges need to be hooked up. Under the truck one of the crossmembers has a part of it where rust was cut out in the past.  It should probably be replaced with the solid used one that I sourced, which is included (needs to be blasted and painted.) See attached photo of undercarriage. There is some frame delamination, which we are told is fairly common in these trucks. There is one weakish spot under the driver's side of the cab that would need a small 2 inch by 4 inch long patch welded in. The insides of the doors need to be painted, and I have the matching green color used to paint the exterior.

While we haven't put too many miles on the truck, the times that we did drive it it performed well and got us where we needed to go. The previous owner stated that he had his mechanic go through the whole truck mechanically and tune it up. It always starts right up and immediately settled into a nice idle. As always, I am sure there is some more road sorting that can be done.  I was taking a look at the center gauge pod and didn't put it back in for some of the interior photos, but it is included. Those photos show that the glovebox door has since been painted to match the rest of the interior.

This could make an excellent promotional truck for a small business as it garners a lot of attention.  All in all, these are seriously well built trucks that are a pleasure to use and own. With some light care and tinkering, this will be a great truck to own and drive.

The truck is titled as a 1953. 

Please use the contact box below for any questions or call 631-318-0155

or simply email info@northeast-sportscar.com

Please click the pictures below for an enlarged version of each. 

 

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