The Dodge Power Wagon was introduced in 1946. It was originally meant to compete with Ford/Marmon-Herrington 4×4 Military trucks such as the Brushbreaker, as well as Military GMC truck applications, but it was the first to be offered directly to the civilian population. It was based on the 3/4-ton Army truck’s chassis with a civilian cab and a purpose designed 8-foot cargo box. It had a 126 inch (3,200 mm) wheelbase chassis and featured the 230 cubic-inch flat head six engine, a two-speed transfer case, a 4-speed manual transmission with a power take off opening which would send power to the front and back of the truck for operating auxiliary equipment and 9.00/16-8 ply tires on 16×6.50 inch 5-stud wheels. In 1961 the 230 was replaced with the 251 cubic-inch flat head six. The nominal one-ton rated Power Wagon’s gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) was 8,700 pounds. Its maximum payload was 3,000 pounds. Big-block 383 V8 engines became an option starting in 1967. From 1961 to 1971 the body was called the “sweptline,” then transitioned to a more modern body image from 1972 through 1980 with varied grilles and paint schemes. In 1975 the 4-wheel drive became full-time with a 2-speed transfer case; this was changed back to part-time 4-wheel drive in 1980 due to the energy crisis. A huge boost in sales followed the 1974 release of the extended “Club Cab,” popular with families and camper towing. The 4-door Crew Cab was far less common and is quite desirable to collectors for restoration. Utility and function was unmatched by few competing models, as the towing, payload, and snow plowing capacity of the Power Wagon equipped with “Dana 60” 8-lug axles was very popular with municipal and regional road crews.
The Power Wagon was sold through the 1980 model year. A number of engineering and styling improvements were made over the years, but the basic package remained surprisingly constant throughout its life and underwent one last major body change in 1972.