November 1992 - A Look Back
The topic of this month’s issue is old iron (or vintage, whichever you prefer), so while flipping through the November 1992 issue of Four Wheeler, our attention was riveted to a story about a ’48 Dodge B-1 Power Wagon. The truck was owned by Robert Vance, and even back in 1992, it qualified as old iron. There were a couple of unique aspects of this story, and one of the most fascinating is that Vance actually began working on the Dodge assembly line back in 1950. He was fresh out of high school and looking for work when he heard that the automobile manufacturers in Detroit were hiring. He packed his bags and hot-footed it to the Motor City, where he was hired by the automaker. He worked mainly on the assembly lines, installing instrument panels in military trucks. He also worked as a parts pickup man, delivering wiring harnesses and windshields to various parts of the plant. That job assignment left him with some interesting experiences, one of which he shared in the story.
“I was working with this old guy who I’d drive around the plant. The aisles in the plant were very narrow, and we would end up pushing aside stacks of boxes to get around sharp corners. The corners were marked by cement poles, and if the corner was too sharp, he told me to just hook the rear fender around the pole and sort of hop the truck around. Boy, at the end of the day, those trucks would be banged up. Then the next day, we would do it all over again with a brand new truck,” Vance recalled.
Vance’s ’48 Power Wagon was a work of art, which he rebuilt himself from the ground up. The truck was equipped with a 230ci inline-six engine, New Process transmission, NP200 transfer case, 4.89 gears, and a factory front bumper with Braden MU-2 10,000-pound winch. The story noted that everything on the truck is original factory issue with the exception of the paint, carburetor, wheels, and tires. And speaking of paint, during the restoration they sandblasted off numerous layers before finally finding the original yellow at the bottom.
Today, Power Wagons like this are super rare, though they can be found en masse at events like the annual International Vintage Dodge Power Wagon Rally (www.vintagepowerwagons.com).
Just think, in 20 years or so your rig will be viewed as old iron, and the cycle will continue.