The Dodge Division of the Chrysler Corporation gained a lot of experience building sturdy four-wheel-drive trucks for the military during World War II. In 1945, Dodge turned this expertise to their advantage and produced a civilian version of the chassis that had been used extensively for ambulances, personnel carriers, medium duty trucks and other military conveyances. They called this heavy-duty, 4X4 pickup the Dodge Power Wagon.
The original Power Wagon was offered with the same flathead, straight six-cylinder engine that was used in the military vehicles, as well as the Dodge light and medium duty trucks of that era. The drive train was a manual four-speed transmission coupled to a two-speed transfer case that was mated to the front and rear differentials. There were power-take-off connections (PTO) at both front and rear of the vehicle. The Power Wagon was a sturdy, no-nonsense vehicle with few creature comforts and amenities. It had the hulking, muscular look of a vehicle that could climb a sheer cliff-face and it could.
The Dodge Power Wagon was made in this iteration for fifteen years, until 1960. In 1961, a larger, 251 CID six cylinder engine replaced the original 230 CID power plant. Also, a few more accessories and comfort amenities were offered, but the vehicle was still a stump-puller". In 1967, Dodge offered their big-block 383 CID V-8 as an option in the Power Wagon. In 1972, the transition was made from the crude basic design to a more modern look, but the heavy-duty underpinnings remained. The Dodge Power Wagon, with a one-ton rating, was really the King of the Hill of pickup trucks.
The Power Wagon remained in production through the 1980 model year, but it was dropped in favor of lighter duty Dodge Ram 4X4 pickups, which were sold under the label of "Power Ram". In 2005, Dodge resurrected the name "Power Wagon" for their line of heavy-duty pickup trucks. These gasoline powered Power Wagons were equipped with a 5.7 liter "hemi" V-8 engine. This engine option gave the three-quarter ton rated truck exceptional power and versatility. The modern Power Wagon is a true off-road vehicle, with a heavy-duty suspension, four-wheel drive and a stout six-speed automatic transmission.
The cabin appointments in the new Power Wagon are the same as on the Ram 2500 pickup truck. Creature comforts abound and there are premium sound systems available. The hubs and front differential are electronically engaged. A Warn winch, thirty-three inch off-road tires and wheels and an elevated ride height are all standard equipment on this modern version of the original Power Wagon.
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