Power Restored: 1946 Dodge Power Wagon


If last week's spy photo of the 2010 Dodge Ram Power Wagon got you excited about Chrysler's continued commitment to building extremely capable off-road pickups, you may want to strap yourself down for this truck: a fully-restored 1946 Dodge Power Wagon.

1946 was the a civilian version of the Power Wagon was available, though it still looked ready to support troops on the battlefield, just as its military-spec cousins had done during World War II.

The regular cab pickup with an 8-foot cargo box was based on Dodge's three-quarter-ton WC chassis. It rode on a 126-inch wheelbase and featured a 94-horsepower, Mopar 230-cubic-inch flathead six-cylinder gasoline engine, a two-speed transfer case, a four-speed manual transmission with dual power take off (that could send power to the front and back of the truck for operating auxiliary equipment) and big 9.00-16 eight-ply farm tires mounted on 16×6.50-inch five-stud wheels. Rear axle choice was limited to either a 5.83 or 4.89 final drive ratio — perfect for hauling heavy loads or pulling a plow through the field, but a handicap on the highway, where the top speed was only about 50 mph. The one-ton Power Wagon's maximum gross vehicle weight rating was 8,700 pounds. Its maximum payload was 3,000 pounds.

The rugged four-wheel-drive Power Wagon cost $1,627 when it went on sale, about $550 more than a regular two-wheel-drive one-ton Dodge truck. It was originally marketed as a three-passenger pickup, but the floor-mounted gear and transfer case shifters in the center of the cab made it practical for only two people.

Dennis Midyett of Fanatic Automobile Restoration in Azusa, Calif., rebuilt the Power Wagon for its latest caretaker, Chris Lofthouse. Lofthouse is president of Phoenix Decorating Company, the largest builder of floats for the annual Rose Parade in Pasadena, Calif.

Midyett said the Power Wagon served dual roles as a family-hauler and tow truck before it was purchased by Lofthouse.

The Power Wagon was on display Sunday at the 2009 Art Center Car Classic at the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, from which many of the automotive industry's leading designers have graduated. It was one of only two pickup trucks on the field amid an incredible collection of rare and high-end production cars and one-of-a-kind concept and custom vehicles. Among these priceless collectibles, the Power Wagon's hulking green figure and 10,000-pound winch looked strong enough to single-handedly yank the U.S. out of its multi-trillion-dollar recession.

The 2010 Dodge Ram Power Wagon has some big shoes to fill.


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