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Dodge Power Wagon - The Predecessors

   The story of Dodge's Power Wagon can be confusing. The more 'experts' you talk to the more variations you're going to hear. Here's what (I think) I know...

A Litle History
   The first Dodge four wheel drive truck was built in 1934, a 1 1/2 ton cargo style. Four wheel drive was not particularly revolutionary, even at that early date, although Dodge's offering had the distinction of being the first 4x4 that could be shifted into four wheel drive without leaving the cab. The Dodge Power Wagon may have been a bit late to appear on the scene, but we can comfort ourselves that Jeep definitely didn't write the book.

As early as 1898 the French company Latil was producing a four wheel drive, with front and rear steering to tackle the drive line wind up issue which was largely simply ignored after that. Right on their heels in the same year Tatra of Czechoslovakia introduced an all wheel drive truck. In 1900 Porsche built an odd electric drive 4x4 with a motor in the hub of each wheel. Spyker, a Dutch company, began production of four wheel drive vehicles in 1902, and Caldwell Vale of South Australia in 1907. There were no doubt others.

Not until 1911, still long before Dodge ventured into the field, did the first US company get in on the action when the Four Wheel Drive Auto Company, better know as FWD, began producing exclusively four wheel drive vehicles. One partner split off in 1913 to form the Wisconsin Duplex Auto Company, later renamed Oshkosh Motor Truck Manufacturing when it moved to the town of that name in 1917. In 1918 Nash began delivery of their Quad to the US Army, more than 11,000 trucks, making them the worlds largest producer up to that time.

World War II did for the four wheel drive truck what Vietnam did for the helicopter. Manufacturers were suddenly flush with government money and a mandate to build rugged capable all terrain vehicles. They were eager to heed the call, and reap the profits.

WC-10 Dodge Carryall, a forerunner to the Power Wagon.
      A beautiful Dodge WC-10 Carryall. The 1/2 tons
      have the sloped hoods. Image from Don Bunn's
      book Dodge Power Wagons Photo Archive.

   Dodge built its first production four wheel drive trucks in 1940 for the military. These were the 1/2 ton VC series, with standard civilian sheet metal, a 218 flat head six, and a single speed transfer case without a neutral position. In 1941 the WC series trucks replaced the VC's. Redesigned with military styled bodies, the WC's were still 1/2 ton and retained the same drive train and 218. Later, they received a heavier rear axle and got their cubes boosted with the introduction of the 230 CID flat head, the same basic engine used in the first civilian four wheel drives and the well known Korean War era M-37's that followed the Power Wagon in 1950. But I'm getting ahead of the story.

By the end of World War II the WC series military truck had grown to 3/4 ton capacity with a number of body styles and adaptations including my favorite, the van body Carryall. There were a couple of 6x6 versions, of questionable success, the command cars and ambulances and too many others to list.

Next, The Power Wagon Appears on The Scene

Last updated 11-02-16
Email:  mechanique at wmol dot com

Vintage Dodge Power Wagon Tracta U-Joint