Legacy Power Wagon: First Drive


If you're noticing that a growing number of small companies are targeting those who love classic pickup trucks but not their punishing ride quality, you are not alone. Remember the and ?

The latest entry in this evolving "resto-mod" landscape is Legacy Classic Trucks, a small company in Driggs, Idaho (just outside Jackson Hole, Wyo.), that fully restores old Dodge Power Wagons to better-than-new specifications without losing a single ounce of the old-school work-truck personality.

The most popular and impressive pickup in the company's growing stable is the Legacy Power Wagon, which is essentially a fully restored, brand-new vehicle with classic Power Wagon looks and strength, yet modern underpinnings.

'Improving' a Classic

The brainchild of Winslow Bent, who started the company in 2007, each Legacy Power Wagon begins with the parts of an original donor chassis, body or frame, and is assembled to the exact specifications of the customer buying it. The Power Wagons can weigh more than 7,000 pounds, depending on how they're outfitted. Although the standard features list includes heavy-duty suspension, cooling and driveline components, there is an even longer list of optional equipment that includes upgraded engine choices, high-tech electronics, all sorts of off-road and recovery gear, and even a power-take-off snow blower.

Legacy seems to be doing a pretty brisk business.

"We have a special type of truck guy that gets in touch with us," Bent said. "Not everyone understands, wants or can afford a custom-built truck like this, but once they see what we can do, that usually seals the deal."

So far the number of Legacy Power Wagons sold is split between businesses that want these impressive rigs for marketing purposes and private customers who want something formidable and unique.

Interestingly, Bent said, about half of his customers bring in their own mid-century unrestored Power Wagon (sometimes in boxes). And there's usually a family story or lineage tied to the truck that directly connects the customer to those rusted parts and pieces.

"In a lot of cases, we're dealing with a family heirloom or a piece of their family history," Bent said. "We know we have to be very careful with the truck they bring to us – that's why we take our time."

The trucks are fully reconditioned, meaning every part is brought up to like-new standards or better, from the frame all the way to the bolts used in the bed. Many of the trucks that serve as the foundation for a Legacy restoration have been ignored for several decades, in some cases sitting in a field for even longer.

How It Drives

We had the chance to drive a custom extended cab, and it took us more than a few days to wipe the smile off our face. Not to overstate it, the rig is impressive. Our Flame Red Power Wagon had a GM 6.2-liter LSA supercharged V-8 with almost 600 horsepower and a heavy-duty four-speed automatic transmission. Throttle response was strong and progressive, without a hint of hesitation, and the noise the engine made, given the side-opening engine hood, was pronounced but not obnoxious. In fact, the engine noise was one of the top reasons we couldn't help grinning.

Our Power Wagon also had optional 40-inch Toyo Open Country tires that were perfectly matched to the size of the truck, and did not produce much tread noise at all when cruising at highway speeds despite having a fairly aggressive tread pattern. Yes, these are huge and heavy tires, but they felt smooth and well-matched. Every Legacy Power Wagon uses heavy-duty Dynatrac axles (Dana 80 in back, Dana 60 in front) with 4.56:1 gears, but they can be equipped with lockers or steeper gears if you need that kind of off-road ability.

During our short test drive, the only quibble we had was that it took a little bit of time to get used the small amount of play in the steering wheel, which is likely due to the massive tires and the amount of torque generated by the engine. Still, the truck was remarkably composed when driven on city streets or major highways. Be prepared to draw a crowd when slowing down or attract stares when traveling at speed.

We had the chance to do some low-range crawling on some local trails and found the truck felt more like a tank than a normal pickup with its huge, gripping tires and ultralow twin-stick transfer case. There's plenty of military DNA here. It's when the Power Wagon is in low range that its true heritage really shines, crawling and navigating over every obstacle and dominating its surroundings.

Although the air is pretty thin in this part of the resto-mod atmosphere, if you can afford to scale the heights, the Legacy Power Wagon is extraordinary and you'll never see another just like yours.

What It Costs

Legacy Classic Trucks builds about 12 trucks per year right now, but it's likely to ramp up production if these Legacy Power Wagons become more popular. And that wouldn't surprise us at all. The only caveat we'd add to this prediction is that these vehicles are not cheap. According to Legacy's current price list, the starting price for a regular-cab Legacy Power Wagon (with a 9-foot bed) is $185,000; extended-cab models (with a 7-foot bed) are $225,000; and the uniquely customized four-door crew-cab models (with a 5-foot bed) are $250,000. SUV enthusiasts can have a full-size Dodge Carryall model starting at $235,000.

If that price range is too steep for your bank account, be patient. Bent told us Legacy's next project will be more reasonably priced and based off the classic early 1950s Chevrolet Napco prototype. We'll have more on that project later.

It wouldn't surprise us if more companies like Legacy start popping up as more businesses discover the trucks' promotional value and the U.S. economy continues to slowly grow.

For more details and specifications about the Legacy Power Wagon, click here.

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