MotorCities National Heritage Area
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By: Robert Tate, Automotive Historian/Researcher
Images: courtesy of The National Automotive History Collection
Posted: 06.10.2015

The history of Dodge trucks begins with a fascinating journey dating back to the year of 1918. It was the Dodge Brothers who helped bring about a new way of traveling many consumers and the business community as well. The first Dodge truck was produced for commercial use. The vehicle was advertised at the time using the slogan “Dodge Brothers’ Business Car."

The appearance of the Dodge brothers' business cars were so popular that it attracted attention everywhere. People far and wide enjoyed its modern appearance. For some owners, it was a good way for hauling and offering great travel and transportation service needs.

The Dodge Brothers designed the business car in the early days of the war with a definite purpose. They had realized that individuals and corporations would be compelled to design their facilities around truck transportation. After the war had ended as a 1918 model, the military ambulance was converted to the famous Dodge Brothers half-ton screen-side commercial car.

file 20150610105409 Dodge Trucks 1950Dodge Trucks 1950s

Dodge trucks continued to be built and sold during the 1940s and the 1950s. After the war had ended, consumers were buying vehicles in record numbers and trucks were at the top of the list for consumer demand. The Dodge trucks of the 1940s and 1950s were referred to as “Job Rated." New to the line was the Dodge cab-over-engine which became very popular among consumers. During the war, Dodge trucks produced over a half million trucks of all types and models to aid in war efforts. Dodge also manufactured half-ton ambulances, model T207-WC9. These models became very popular during the war time efforts as well. The largest of the tractor Dodge truck models for 1946-1947 was the series WK 3-ton models.

Another popular Dodge truck model was the Dodge Power Wagons. The power wagons were half-ton pickups and had become very popular among consumers. The Power Wagons offered heavy-duty accessories; for example, a tow hook, which along with a powerful engine was a great feature for Power Wagon models. The Dodge Power frame used seven sturdy cross-members and the springs were comprised of multiple leafs for maximum strength.

The Power Wagon designs were unchanged from 1946 to 1950. Today, Power Wagon models are still very popular among collectors. In 1948, a new popular body style was offered to the consumer market. The newly design Dodge models for 1948 B series pickup was shortened to 126-inches from the 133-inches on previous Dodge models from the 1940’s.

file 20150610105458 bakeryDodge Trucks 1950s

The 1948 Dodge pickups featured an all new design, with larger cabs and more rounded lines than the 1947 models. The 1950s brought many mechanical and styling changes within the Dodge lines which was successful in the eyes of the consumer. Dodge continued to use the advertising slogan “Job-Rated” which helped to yield great marketing achievements for Dodge trucks sales during the 1950s.

In 1950, Dodge offered Fluid Drive on its light duty trucks, an industry first with many truck consumers. In 1953, Dodge introduced a styling change that year incorporating Pontoon style fenders. This became very popular with both consumers and dealerships. In 1954, at a press preview event Dodge introduced a Pink Polka Dot truck concept called the “Polka Dot” (image included in this story). By 1956, Dodge offered thousands of truck models to the public without minimal styling changes. However, Dodge did offer a V-8 engine for the entire range of light and medium duty trucks that year. In addition to that, the front grille bans of trucks were painted Chilean Beige regardless of cab color.

file 20150610105541 Show truckShow Truck for Dodge

On a historical note, on June 19, 1954 the Chrysler proving grounds located in Chelsea, Michigan opened offering over 4,000-acres. Forty Dodge “Job Rated” trucks participated in this historical event.

The trucks had ranged from half-ton pickups to powerful YX models. The parade introduced 30 new Dodge trucks with seven different engines and a wide range of wheelbases and axle ratios. It was led by a colorful half-ton pickup painted white with large orange polka dots given the name of “Dottie Dodge." Dodge military vehicles also participated in the parade which at the time was viewed by editors from all over the world (unfortunately no image for this historical event was available). Dodge’s great reputation for practical pickups continued with the popular C-series 1954 to 1956 and the Power Giant era of 1957 to 1960. Today, Dodge truck models from the 1940's-1950’s have become great collector models and will always be a part of our great truck history and our automotive heritage.

file 20150610105618 Power wagonDodge Power Wagon 1950

A special thanks to Robert Tate, Automotive Historian and Researcher, for donating the story to the MotorCities Story of the Week program. Photographs are courtesy of the National Automotive History Collection. (Bibliography: McPherson A. Thomas. “The Dodge Story”. Crestline Publishing 1975. Statham Steve. “Enthusiast Color Series Dodge Pickup Trucks” Published by Motorbooks 1998. Dodge Division, Chrysler Corporation. Press Release “Chelsea Michigan proving grounds” June 16, 1954.)

For further information on photos please visit http://www.detroitpubliclibrary.org/ or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Please do not republish the story and/or photographs without permission of MotorCities National Heritage Area.

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