"Hey, I helped design this," says Bruce Thomas (right) to Vintage Power Wagon owner Dave B
The name "Power Wagon" has legendary connotations. For Dodge, it started out as the catchy name for a new line of four-wheel-drive trucks that debuted in 1946. These trucks carried on a legend created in World War II, where the reputation of Dodge 1/2- and 3/4-ton 4x4 trucks was rivaled only by the Jeep and the GMC deuce-and-a-half. The Power Wagon gave that legend a name and started the new trucks on the same road.
After 34 years adorning the sheetmetal of four-wheel-drive trucks in the Dodge stable, the name was retired, but vintage Dodge Power Wagons have remained one of the most popular and collectable old iron stalwarts out there. No surprise that Dodge brought the name back in 2005.
Not long after the Power Wagon became the Power Ram, Vintage Power Wagons in Fairfield, Iowa, began holding a national rally for true believers. That a quiet Iowa farm town became the Mecca for Power Wagon owners may seem quite strange ... until you've been there. The town is warm, inviting, and well equipped. Vintage Power Wagons itself-well, it has all the attributes of a Mecca; basically anything you might need to restore, repair, rebuild, or modify a Power Wagon in mass quantities, from knowledge to the most obscure part ... even complete vehicles.
The atmosphere at a VPW Rally is low-key. The majority of attendees aren't in the high adrenaline realm of four-wheeling. You'll see a mix of lavishly restored rigs and tired trucks that have endured a lifetime of work. Most of both types now live an easy life in retirement. Neither is suitable for bashing on a tough trail, least of all those one-of-a-kind, first-of, last-of, or only-one-built trucks that show up. The trail runs are geared towards these kinds of rigs, but every year there are options for testing the power of a Power Wagon.
Town Wagons, built from 1957 to 1966, were Dodge's answer to the Suburban and are fairly r
Making a bow wave like a battlewagon, Butch Polzin's '42 WC-12 military 1/2-ton charges do
This area is called "The Nile" because it's long, deep, and muddy. Jill Stearn's purple '6
The more adventurous can 'wheel in areas chosen to test their mettle a bit. This year's spot had mud deep enough to swallow a Power Wagon. The big-tire mud mavens were the obvious candidates for this spot, but some of the more stock rigs went in, usually spending a fair bit of time on a strap or winch cable. This was true with our test '05 Power Wagon-to the eternal delight of the old-time Power Wagon owners.
The event goes on for five days, and every day a full slate of activities is available, including the aforementioned trail runs. Some activities revolve around social aspects, such as meals and live music. Other choices include do-it-yourself tech training at Vintage Power Wagons, a teeter-board contest, an RTI competition, and open-house periods at the sprawling VPW facility. The Saturday parade is always a hit as Fairfield is taken over by Power Wagons. After a miles-long parade, Power Wagons fill the town square and their owners mingle with townspeople and visitors.