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1950 Dodge Power Wagon Woody - Tree Hugger Special

Posted in Project Vehicles on January 1, 2008
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Now here is some class. One of the last of the "Splinter Fleet" of 4x4 woodys, Wellman's '50 is the only Campbell Power Wagon known to have survived out of a small (but unknown) number built. Campbell, a Division of the Mid-State Body Company, was based in Waterloo, New York, and was in business from 1932 to 1957. This truck has an optional 8,000-pound Braden MU-2 PTO winch.

The eras of the woody and the 4x4 almost passed in the night without meeting. Prior to World War II, four-wheel-drive light-duty trucks were practically nonexistent. After the war, four-wheel drive was a growing phenomenon in the 1-ton-and-lighter truck categories, but by then the woody was singing its swan song. Only a very few 4x4 types were made into woodies from the late '30s to the early '50s.

The woody evolved from the "depot hack," a special wooden body designed to carry passengers and luggage from the train station to a hotel. The market for these practical people movers was handled by coachbuilders who converted privately owned vehicles or commercial fleets, or worked under contract for various car or truck manufacturers. Though not necessarily in the same category as a depot hack, car-based woody station wagons are better known. If you say that any vehicle with a wooden body is a "woody, " then you can say that most woodies were built on truck chassis.

The four-wheel-drive Power Wagon pickup debuted in 1946 and filled an almost empty spot in the market. Stout construction and capable performance made it a top choice in a variety of roles, including the conversion into woody station wagons. Even in light of the all-metal four-wheel Jeep Wagons that debuted in 1949, a small number of other 4x4 trucks were being converted by the handful of coachbuilders still producing woodies. The evidence comes from period photos and a handful of survivors like George Wellman's 1950 Power Wagon with a Campbell "Surrey" body.

This truck has an interesting past. It was given as a 1949 Christmas present to Charles A. Ward (1886-1959). At that time, Ward was the president of Brown & Bigelow, the famous calendar publisher that is now well past a century in business. The Power Wagon was given in honor of his then 25 years of service. Ward was an avid outdoorsman, and the burly 4x4 suited his recreational pursuits. The Wagon ended up at his place in Arizona, and was traded in by Ward's wife on a Cadillac a few years after his death.

Wellman acquired the woody in 1995 from its third owner. Fortunately, the Arizona climate had been relatively good to it. After a 3-year cosmetic restoration, the body was put back into the same yachtlike condition as Campbell's craftsmen built it almost 60 years ago. The front clip was repainted in its original blue, but Wellman carefully avoided a full restoration to retain the originality of the truck. It's showing only about 30,000 miles.

Time and termites take their toll, and a woody of any type is a rare and expensive collectible. In the world of four-wheel drive, the survivors are even scarcer. We're talking a handful of Marmon-Herrington Ford woody wagons, a couple of Campbells on various chassis, and a couple of Cantrells to remind us of the days of wooden trucks and iron men.

PhotosView Slideshow

Vehicle: 1950 Dodge B2PW Power Wagon with Campbell Body
Estimated Value: $100,000+
Engine: 230ci L-head Six
Max horsepower @ rpm: 94 @ 3,200
Max torque @ rpm: 186 lb-ft @ 1,200
Transmission: NP420 four-speed
Transfer case: NP200 two-speed
Axles, f/r: 9.63-inch Dodge Corporate/9.63-inch Dodge Corporate
Ring & pinion: 5.83:1 (4.89:1 standard)
Tires: 9.00-16 nondirectionals (7.50-16 standard)
GVWR (lb): 8,700 (7,600 standard)

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