The Dodge Power Wagon Is the Most Important Pickup Truck In America

The Dodge Power Wagon may not be a household name like the Ford F-150 or the Chevy Silverado, but that doesn’t mean the Power Wagon isn’t the most important pickup truck in America. 

A red and black 1951 Dodge Power Wagon. These were the first mass-production 4x4 pickup trucks in America
1951 Dodge Power Wagon | Darin Schnabel: Courtesy of RM Sotheby’s

When did the Dodge Power Wagon come out? 

According to Silodrome, the Dodge Power Wagon dropped in 1945. The Power Wagon was based on the Dodge 3/4 ton WC truck made for the military during WWII. These trucks were so tough that General Patton requested one for his personal transport in Europe during the war. 

It wasn’t until after the War that Dodge built the first Power Wagons.

What makes the Dodge Power Wagon so significant? 

Like all military vehicles, the idea for the WC was for it to be simple to build and work on while also remaining cheap enough to build in mass quantities. These trucks with built on using the tried and true body of frame construction that all great off-roaders before and since used. The WC’s, and eventually the Power Wagons, used a strong inline-six paired with a four-speed manual transmission and two-speed transfer case to move the massive 4x4s. 

Much like the Unimog, Land Rover Defender, and the Jeep Wrangler, Dodge executives wanted to figure out a way to market the design and excess trucks to a post-war America. Dodge knew that the same things that made them good in the war would also be useful for agricultural applications. 

A civilian version of the WC truck was developed with a fully enclosed cab, manual windows, improved seats from the military version, and a red and black paint scheme that would become inextricably linked to the model. Lastly, the Power Wagon kept its 4×4 driveline, making it the first mass-production 4×4 pickup truck in America. This was a game-changer. 

How much does a Dodge Power Wagon cost? 

Front of a 1951 Power Wagon
1951 Dodge Power Wagon | Darin Schnabel: Courtesy of RM Sotheby’s

Like anything else with this long of a production history, the prices of the Wagons can vary pretty wildly. The one thing about basically all of them is that they ain’t cheap. The earlier models from the ‘40s are mighty collectible and can easily run over $50,000. In fact, the one we see here is from 1951, and it’s estimated to go between $75,000-$85,000 when it hits the RM Sotheby’s auction. 

This is a prime example of the classic red over black color scheme. The interior is fitted with a beautiful black leather interior showing the attention to detail given in its restoration. 

A correct 230 cubic inch flathead inline-six gasoline engine is sending power back through a two-speed transfer case and four-speed manual transmission. That transfer case gives the truck both high- and low-range gearing helping to further increase the off-road potential of the truck.

Lastly, this one has the farmer-friendly front and rear power takeoff for powering machinery, and it’s fitted with Super Swamper tires, as any good off-roader should. 

The Dodge Power Wagon should be a list topper for any truck fan with any taste. The historical significance for the war effort alone should be enough, but the fact that it was the first production truck to offer 4WD seals the deal. The Dodge Power Wagon is the most important pickup truck in America.

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