One of the highlights for this year's group of historically minded people was a talk by Bruce Thomas, a retired Dodge engineer. Thomas went to work for Dodge in 1945 and was actively involved with the development of the Power Wagon. He was one of the principal engineers involved in the development of the Dodge M-37, often considered the best military light truck ever built. His reminiscences were riveting. Thomas now works with Chrysler Historical and adds his guidance to maintaining their collection of photos, documents, and vehicles.
If you are a classic Power Wagon owner, even one of the '05-and-newer Power Wagons, or just an aficionado, and you want to spend time with hundreds of like-minded enthusiasts, the Vintage Power Wagon Rally is for you.
1. Tom Haxton's '69 W200 crew cab represents one of many like it produced for the military in the 1960s. They came standard with a 225ci slant-six, an A745 three-speed trans (or NP435 four-speed), a divorced New Process transfer case (NP201 or NP205), a closed-knuckle D44F front axle, and a Dana 60 full-floating rear axle. Haxton's truck still has its original 19.5-inch wheels. [Cold dubbin'!-Ed.]
2. By the time David Bizzel's '56 C-4-PW was built, the original 94hp, 230ci flathead had been uprated to 110 hp by an increase in compression from 6.7:1 to 7.25:1, a longer-duration camshaft, and intake manifold improvements. 1956 also marked a change from 6- to 12-volt electricals.
3. George Wellman's Campbell-bodied woody is in the top echelon of Power Wagon collectibles. It was converted in 1949 by Campbell of Waterloo, New York, for the Charles A. Ward family. Campbell called this particular body the "Club" and it was designed for 11 passengers. Campbell did a number of Power Wagon conversions, but it isn't clear how many have survived. Cantrell, another coachbuilder, also built a number of Power Wagon woodies, and at least one of those has survived.
4. Restored WWII military rigs were in short supply at this year's event, but Robert Jones' superb '43 WC-63 1 1/2-ton 6x6 would have been a standout, even in a large crowd. The 6x6 Dodges were a simple answer to a shortage of 1 1/2-ton trucks. They used many of the same components as the standard WC-51 3/4-ton 4x4 but had a bogie-type rear suspension, the extra axle, and a two-speed transfer case.
5. Among the most interesting old Power Wagons are the M-601 export versions. These were basically an open-topped, militarized WM-300 that was built for export in the mid and late 1960s. A few saw non-combat service with the U.S. Military overseas, but most went as MDAP (Mutual Defense Assistance Program) aid to friendly nations. The most notable feature is the open cab, making it reminiscent of the early WWII 1/2-ton trucks. There was also a hard-top ambulance/carryall version.