Strange Story of 1957 Dodge Sweptside Pickup
Rare when new and one of the most expensive collectible pickups today, the Dodge D100 Sweptside pickup is everything you would expect from a finned fifties pickup. Leave it to Dodge to do it differently, in more ways than one.
When Chevy released the Cameo pickup in 1955 it was a game-changer. It still used the regular six-and-a-half-foot bed of other Chevy pickups, but it was clad in fiberglass fenders giving it more of a car-like look. It was a high-end hauler and it forecasted the fleetside pickup which offered a wider bed and better aesthetics. But those wouldn’t start appearing until 1958.
Dodge and Ford were left with nothing to counter. Sure, this was going to be a limited moneymaker for Chevy, but it was sure a beacon to showrooms. By 1957 Ford had the car/truck Ranchero, which sort-of filled the void. Dodge’s solution was more flamboyant, and also more complicated.
1957 Sweptside Pickup Counters Cameo
To counter the Cameo it took until 1957 for Dodge’s response. The D100 pickup was all-new for 1954, and by 1957 was not holding up next to Ford’s all-new pickup and Chevy’s high-style pickups. Production trucks saw Chrysler’s “Forward Look” applied to its pickups with more car-like front end and one-piece hoods. A 315 ci 204 hp V8 was now standard-the largest in the industry. A 230 ci L-head six was also available.
Inside a push-button “Loadflite” shifter was standard with the new three-speed automatic transmission. A 12-volt charging system finally found its way to the trucks. Wrapping front and rear glass visually lightened the upper, and added driver visibility.
To spice things up Dodge made the decision to include the premium Sweptside. It was done in a similar vein to the Cameo, but instead of attaching form-fitting fiberglass bedsides Dodge sourced the smooth sides from its two-door station wagon.
Dodge Special Equipment Group
For fleet customers looking to get some factory help in modifying and building trucks for unique applications in the field, Dodge had its “Special Equipment Group.” SEG had free reign within Chrysler Corporation to change anything it felt necessary to satisfy fleet customer demands. So long as it didn’t compromise safety, that is.
Introduced midway through the 1957 model year, SEG yanked the station wagon stampings off of the assembly line, then went through a process to adapt them to standard Dodge pickup boxes. It trimmed them, filled the now-unnecessary gas flap and trim holes, and attached them with brackets to the sides of the bed.
Sweptside Pickup From Station Wagon Bits
Rear station wagon bumpers were also used, while tailgates had to be modified to fit between the fenders. Unique chrome trim was attached, highlighting the standard two-tone paint. Full wheelcovers and white sidewall tires completed the transformation. All of this took place within SEG, away from the pickup assembly line.
While jet-age in appearance and surprisingly compatible with the cab styling it required a lot of hand work for each one produced. As a result only a couple thousand were built between 1957 and 1958, with a few eked out in 1959.
Its uniqueness and rarity make it an expensive addition to collector’s garages. Over the past couple of years, at least a few have been auctioned at or above $100,000. The premium prices will continue as there are estimates less than 200 remain.