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Dodge Power Wagon - The Sweptside Era

The Sweptside Power Wagon
   I think 1956 was when Dodge introduced the first Power Wagon in basically civilian sheet metal, although it was a 2 ton. 1957 is when the first real conventional cab Power Wagons for regular Joe Blow appeared. You could have 1/2 and 3/4 ton flavors, or choose from Town Panels, Town Wagons, or stake truck versions in addition to the conventional pickup.

These trucks shared nothing but the name (and the occasional 251 flat head or 420 transmission) with their forerunners. As a rule the 1 tons and lighter used Dana axles, except the rear on the 1/2 tons which was a Chrysler product. They had New Process transfer cases and transmissions, at least the manuals. Yah, that's right, the venerable old workhorses were now available with automatics. It was the start of the moral decay that plagues our nation to this day. Clearly these were not the starkly utilitarian trucks that the earlier Dodges had been. Despite that, they were heavy duty and capable performers in their own right and, I hate to have to say it, far more practical for most uses than the military Power Wagons encumbered with their badly underpowered engines and 5.83 final ratios. The military style definitely holds honors for rugged though.

In 1961 Dodge began production of the sweptside Power Wagon. An example from 1963 is shown here. They were introduced with a grill that looked like it had been cobbled at the factory and accidentally made it to the assembly line. The grill in the picture was adopted in '62 and officially reigned until 64 when the single headlight pie pan grill was brought into production. In reality, the older grill lasted into mid '65, at least, since my '65 W200 has the older style. The box had a narrow tailgate and round tail lights during the same period, changing to the more common wide tailgate and narrow sort of oval taillights with the appearance of the single headlight grill.

The Town Wagons and Town Panels were discontinued at about this time, never to re-emerge. The trucks were also available with the Utiline step side box, generally a short box but also available in an 8' length. Interestingly, this box was basically interchangeable with step sides from much later (and probably earlier), as late as the 80's to my knowledge.

1963 W200 Sweptside Dodge Power Wagon
      The 1963 Dodge W200 3/4 Ton
      Sweptside Power Wagon
Technically, the last truck wearing the Power Wagon name rolled off the line in 1980, but as far as I'm concerned they ended in 1971. An entirely new body style was introduced and it just didn't say Power Wagon to me anymore. My interest really pretty much drops off about half way through 1965 when the dual headlight grill and narrow tailgate were phased out. I consider those and later trucks excellent parts donors though (joking, just joking).

Last updated 11-03-16
Email:  mechanique at wmol dot com

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