History of the 1945-1968 Dodge Power Wagon
Always consistent from the first unit built in 1946 until the last civilian model was made in 1968, the Dodge Power Wagon was a top vehicle from the land that time forgot. Spanning four major redesigns of the standard Dodge light duty trucks, the cab dated back to 1939, but the reputation was built during the Second World War. The robust four-wheel drive WC-series ¾-ton trucks that helped win the war stood out even compared to the ubiquitous jeep. The latter was handy, but the former was a work horse. Tapping that war-bred stamina, Dodge slightly refined these trucks into the Power Wagon for a work truck-hungry postwar market. Despite the similarities to the military trucks, the Power Wagon had a unique front end, and continued to even when the U.S. military adopted the similar M37 ¾-ton tactical truck in 1950 (which is not a Power Wagon).
While mostly encountered today as a pickup, the Power Wagon was also available as a cab and chassis (most commonly fitted with utility bodies) and even as a cowl and chassis (mostly for bus bodies for rural school districts). Also available on any configuration was a front-mounted winch.
The few changes over the years were mostly mechanical and in subtle details. The greatest change was in 1961, when the stalwart 230 cubic inch flathead six gave way to the 251 cubic inch flathead six that was formerly used in medium-duty trucks. This happened despite the introduction of the famed Slant Six. Cosmetically, the pickup box sides went from being flat to embossed during 1951. From there, only subtle mechanical changes and the serial number indicate when a given example was built.
The greatest change over the years was what Dodge actually called it. Originally cataloged as the model WDX, in 1957 it became the model WM-300, when the Power Wagon name was also used on four-wheel drive W-models of Dodge’s newly designed pickups. As such, “Power Wagon” became something of a generic term for Dodge, signifying a four-wheel drive truck. The name has just as much traction as the original truck that wore it, as it continues to be in use.