The Awesome Power Wagons


 

What is it about Vintage Dodge Power Wagons that makes them so enticing to discerning people everywhere? To be sure it's not the hard mounted transfer of the WC, the over linked steering of the M37, or the "roominess" of the PW Cab. Rather, the trucks have a personality all their own -  a manifestation perhaps of their owners persona. You don't just get in and drive; you wear it like a suit of clothes.

Power Wagons have clean and well balanced lines, an all encompassing union of strength and classic design. The military models reflect a smooth transition from boxy cab and flat hood to round open fenders while the civilian cab literally flows to hood and fender. The simplistic and rugged grill guard, wide fenders, and massive bumper command a formidable approach. Cab and body are affixed to a very rugged and flexible double drop frame enabling lower profile and center of gravity. Supporting the frame are long and agile semi-elliptic springs promoting good conformance to rugged off road terrain. Service brakes are of the fixed anchor, hydraulic drum type with bi-diametrical wheel cylinders to promote even shoe wear. This well designed chassis and power train forms the heart of the trucks superior off road performance.

Driving the Power Wagon is a trip. Combine the distinct throb of the Chrysler flathead, the ever so audible whine of the transfer, and the subtle vibe of unbalanced driveline and one finds himself in danger of getting hooked. You can't help but notice the admiring looks provoked by sight and sound of the oncoming Power Wagon. This is not to say that a few improvements won't do wonders for a drivers' temperament, not to mention that of the drivers trailing behind. Since the military models were designed specifically for tactical use and the PW, a civilian extension of same, their highway performance is severely limited.

Aid in the form of tires, lock out hubs, and highway gearing will allow adequate speed and handling for moderate highway driving. Non-directional tires do not perform well on paved roads and should be replaced with all-weather directional or highway tread of equal or near equal size. Post war Dodges are fitted with split ring (not split rim) Budd wheels which are perfectly safe when serviced by professionals. Front wheel lockout hubs are necessary when operating in 2WD to disconnect the front axle and drive shaft from the wheels. This will eliminate front end "drag," reduce tire wear, and promote better handling. Highway gearing will enable reasonable road speed with engine and drive train operating within their comfortable maximum. Modem day performance would require further upgrades of power, braking, and steering. It gives a good feeling to breathe new life in such a stately old veteran of work and war.


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