Dodge built the Power Wagon for military use during World War II. Like the Jeep, thousands were built for use by American troops and allies. It wouldn’t be an understatement to say that the Power Wagon played a big role during the war. We sat down with the Sales team from Kayser Used Cars, a full-service car dealer that sells pre-owned vehicles in the Chevrolet, Dodge, Ford, Lincoln and other brands. Kayser Used Cars is located in Madison, WI, and this is what they had to tell us:
After the war concluded, returning American troops wanted dependable and rugged SUVs for civilian use. The civilian Power Wagon, or Dodge Power Wagon as it is now referred to, was released shortly after the war’s end. It didn’t take long for those who needed rugged work vehicles to start purchasing the Power Wagons.
1945 to 1950 – The First-Series Power Wagon
The first civilian Dodge Power Wagon was released in 1945, after the war ended. The engine used was the original 230ci valve-in-head straight-six cylinder. It pumped out 94 horsepower at 3,200 rpm and was dependable. In 4×4 mode, the Power Wagon’s transmission gave a driver two reverse speeds and eight for driving forward. Weighing nearly 6,000 pounds and running a 5.83 final gear, the top cruising speed was about 45 mph.A mobile power source was obtained by using a front and rear-mounted power take-off. A heavy-duty trailer hitch was attached to the rear of the frame, allowing for heavy pulling and towing.
1951 to 1956 – The Second-Series Power Wagon
Model year 1951 saw rugged upgrades to the Power Wagon, including a fantastic pickup bed, and new rubber mounts for the cab, rear and engine. Beefing it up even further, axle capacities were increased and optional, and stiffer springs were available.
In the engine department, a new carburetor was seen in 1952 and the engine compression was raised from 6.7 to 7.0:1. The 1955 model year saw the introduction of a 12-volt electric unit and a synchromesh transmission. In the cab, the instruments changed from military style to a flashier civilian type and the center of dash was given 4 gauges (Fuel, Amp, Temp and Oil).
1956 to 1968 – The Third-Series Power Wagon
In 1956, the third series Power Wagon came about. For the first time, power steering was available. In 1957, power brakes were offered, and key-actuated starting was a default feature. In 1958, buyers could specify a factory-mounted 10,000-pound winch.
The Dodge Power Wagon received a new name in 1957. It was now called the W-300, sharing its kind of name with the modern-looking W-100 and W-200 Dodge pickups. In 1961, an alternator was made available and the motor size was increased to 251ci.
Unable to comply with future federal safety regulations, in 1968, the Dodge Power Wagon, despite its WWII origins, was discontinued in North American markets. Dodge kept building them for export through 1978. A grand total of 95,145 Dodge Power Wagons were assembled and sold in the United States from 1946 to 1968. Nowadays they are actively sought after by classic vehicle enthusiasts.