We haven’t done a Junkyard Heirloom Gallery post in a while and today someone posted a new comment on the first one of the series which was just the impetus I needed after coming across this well-worn example of one of Dodge’s first post-war trucks, the B-series; not to be confused with the later vans. Produced from 1948 until 1954, this is the fourth version of the model (hence B4) produced as a 1953 (B1 was ’48-’49, B2 ’49-’51, B3 from ’51 into ’53 and this one produced into 1954). The VIN tag gives us all the necessary information, only the half-tons were called “Pick-ups”, while the 3/4 and 1-tons were known as “Express” models and there was also a 1-ton Powerwagon version with a “PW” code as opposed to the “D” on this one. The “D” denotes it as being the 1-ton however in this case with a 126″ wheelbase (the largest of the light-duties and just under an inch shorter than that of a current Ford Ranger). There were also larger route vans, multi-ton trucks and bus versions known as medium and heavy duty variants.
Powered by Dodge’s flathead inline-6, this particular example was built in Detroit, Michigan, but many were produced in San Leandro, CA. These are also known as pilot-house trucks due to their cab shape, a new design for 1948. About 900,000 were produced in total with the 4th version such as this one being the least common at just over 104,000 units of all types produced. This one was perhaps used with a flatbed that has since gone missing, however that allows a better look underneath now, no doubt this truck served its owner well for many decades. As per usual, I’ll wander around and be quiet while you peruse the following…
(Special thanks to Dodgepilothouseclub.org for helping with much of the information and the VIN decoder.)
I had just been thinking that we had not seen one of your junkyard specials recently, and here you are!
It is weird how these seem to be forgotten trucks, both now and then. And that was a time when Chrysler was still the No. 2 producer. It is odd that dull but sturdy and reliable was a winning combination in car sales but not for trucks. Or maybe Chrysler did not put in the effort with trucks that others did.
I don’t think I have ever seen that dashboard before – in all my years of reading and going to places were old cars are found.
I wish I had easy access to light truck sales stats from the 50s. Chevrolet was clearly the dominant brand, well ahead of Ford, by quite a margin. And IIRC, Dodge was #4 after International, possibly #5 some years behind GMC too. Very much an also-ran.
I’m not sure just how exactly to account for that; I’ve never seen any analysis of light truck sales going back to the 30s or so. A big problem is that I’m pretty sure there was no separate category for light trucks; they were just trucks, big and small.
It seems to me that in his usual great wisdom, Sloan invested in more production capacity and all-round effort in trucks that either Ford or Dodge. The gap really seems to have become huge after the war; presumably Ford and Chrysler were more production constrained and gave priority to cars. The Advanced Design Chevys/GMC was a monster hit, and apparently they had the capacity to meet the demand.
The real reason though was the inevitable superiority and durability of the Chevy “babbit beater” six. Buyers apparently got addicted to that sound, and just kept coming back for ever more of them. And when Chevy finally gave it a “proper” oiling system, folks started buying more Fords. 🙂
I don’t think I have ever seen that dashboard before
That is quite odd indeed! It was obviously an afterthought; it replaced the very simple, straight-forward dash that was the original design starting in 1951. But it was perfect for RHD conversions!
Excellent find, research, and photography. The patina is about near perfect.
While the concurrent Chevrolet and Ford truck designs are considered classics, I find these a bit homely. The additional wheel arch flaring doesn’t work so well with the bulbous bodies, so popular at the time. It would have been a cleaner design without them. Thanks somewhat to these flared wheel arches, I found these looked more European in their design, than the Ford and Chev.
Without the wheel arch flaring. They could have added some well-styled chromed badging, and the design could have looked as commercial/classic as the Ford/GM designs.
In my hunch it’s not patina but rust converter. The iron is now turned into iron tannate and cannot be welded anymore. Thus the last owner had to give it up (or this project).
There does appear to be a consistent ‘glaze’ over the surfaces.
This is just how they get out in the dry, sunny West. Leave it outside long enough and they all end up looking like this. No “rust converter” needed. Mother nature is better. Notice how it’s not yet happened on the lower back off the cab where the bed was. And how the process is creeping into the inside door sill where the drivers elbow wore away the paint.
I found these looked more European in their design, than the Ford and Chev.
It has been a while since the last JK-article, good to see you’re back!
Great collection, love all the detail/close-up pictures. That big, white and gray building in the background, is that where they sort things out and stock them for future sale or is there no junkyard relation?
No, it isn’t used for car stuff, they are strictly self-serve and the car part sales are more of a sideline to their main metal recycling business, I’m not sure what it is used for actually. The picture is a (recent) Google overhead of the premises. Top right is the parking lot for visitors such as myself, you enter and exit through the dark-roofed building just below it.
The white roofed building just to the left of that is some sort of grinding/shredding separator operation, whenever I look at the Ford section there is always the tinkling sound of metal falling off a conveyer onto a pile.
The big white building on the left is the one you were referring to (although all of them are visible to some extent depending on which picture angle you look at).
Ford is the first section (lower right), GM takes up the upper section (the wedge shaped part for about two-thirds starting at the right above the central aisle. Imports (all) continue the wedge to the end on the right. Everything Mopar is just above the big white building and extends to the right past the first “road”.
What’s nice about this yard as opposed to many of the others I go to is that there is space around the cars, most of the others pack them trunk to trunk which makes good rear shots difficult at times. No problem here usually, everything is parked head to trunk with twice the number of aisles between them.
Just to the right of the huge metal building is the holding area for new inventory, there’s a fence connected to the metal building running laterally across that is not to be crossed by the public. At the left (closest to Mopar) are the processed cars that will be put out in the next few days and at the right are cars waiting to be processed. The processing shed is the small white building sort of centrally located, this is where fluids are drained, loose change is looked for, and trunks are popped open.
On the south end of the property (so about one-half to two-thirds of the total) is the real scrapping operation. All sorts of metals are brought in, sorted, crushed, shredded, containerized, and hauled off to wherever. The weigh scale is at the extreme right of the picture and you drive in with your load and they tell you where to dump it depending on what it is. If you haul a car in it goes in a different entrance jut behind the dark-roofed building There are several mountains of all things metal (multicolored, biggest is near the lower left), and then just as many mountains of shredded bulk stuff waiting to be scooped into removal trucks (the brown mounds). It seemed pretty organized the one time I took an old dishwasher there to get rid of it while I was going to walk around anyway. They seem to do very well, but the parts prices are decent and the workers friendly.
Thanks for the comprehensive reply!
That had been a nice Dodge.
Ironic, as I found a sibling to this Dodge last night and will feature it along with a bunch of other items later this week.
Good to see you back with findings from your part of the world.
These ran under Fargo badging over here all sizes, there are still some around though mostly hotrodded now.
I don’t really know the different model years of Dodge pickups all that well, but there is a fairly complete Dodge pickup sitting in front of a recently built house about a mile from where I live. I believe it is the model before the one pictured here. I don’t know if the property owner is unconsciously hoping it becomes ” yard art “, or if he hopes someone will see it and make an offer (there are no signs or plates on it). It is currently just slowly, very slowly, returning to its base elements.
A nice old truck if FUGLY new and now .
I used to own a 1949 Dodge B1B I got from a defunct Hudson Dealer, it was very well equipped with radio heater, spotlight and fluid drive…
A shame the engine hasn’t had anything removed from it .
It’s also nice to see some other vintage trucks in there .
There is a fantastic book about these trucks, called, “Truck: On Rebuilding a Worn-Out Pickup and Other Post-Technological Adventures” (still available on Amazon, etc.).
It’s not at all a “how-to” book, but more of a philosophical approach to the topic of saving an old worn-out truck. It’s been compared to “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance”, and I think it’s a fair comparison. Highly recommended.
“Truck” is entertaining, thought-provoking, and entertaining some more. “Zen” is get-to-the-point tiresome from page 1.
That is also a reasonable comparison!
1055 Josephine appears to be a residential address, with a house on it old enough to have been around when this truck was a going concern. Wonder what sort of biz it was for.
Looks like many years ago, the address belonged to a landscaping company – my guess is that the truck was used in this business.
This is not the same place that you found – the current house with that address is at 1055 S. Josephine St., while the landscaping business was located at 1055 N. Josephine, about 2.5 miles away. That site is now part of the Denver Botanic Gardens.
Ahh, I didn’t pay attention to N versus S.
So how’d you figure out it used to be a landscape company?
Did you see his attached image?
Yes. I was wondering how he excavated it.
For this kind of research, I’ve found Census records to be a good place to start. Mr. Collier lived on premises, so he’s recorded as having lived there, and his occupation was listed as “landscaping / tree removal.”
From there, I just did some more detailed searching involving the address and name until I came up with the name of his company.
Incidentally, I looked up the South Josephine address as well, and it didn’t seem to fit with a Dodge pickup of the day, so that got me looking for another explanation. An attorney lived there in the 1950s (who moved to Denver from Alexandria, Va.). That appears to have been a much wealthier area… and it still is. 1055 S. Josephine St. was bought by a developer last year and is being razed… the to-be-built house is currently advertised for $3.7 million. Wow.
I think Studebaker would have had a big hit with passenger car derived pickup cabs had they started in ’53 or so. Other makes were using cabs that sat up high. Dodge even had a name for it. Could the extra high cab be one of the reasons for Dodge not being so popular? I’ve driven some of them and would have rather sat lower. The Champ was a good idea that came too late. Seems they could have just as easily used the earlier sedans as the later Lark on the 1949 frame. Their standard box was an excellent one with double walls. Could they have used the planar suspension setup as an option? Wonder why Dodge redid the dash with what looks like extra pieces welded on? Liked the idea of “job rated” specs, although it proved to be a headache when it came to ordering parts. In many ways these Dodge trucks were superior – the sales figures didn’t show it.
The front brakes look odd, small diameter drum. Was this common back then?
Dual leading shoe brakes were pretty good for the time and _far_ better than Chevy/GMC’s ‘Huck’ brakes ever could be .
Ive seen plenty of dual leading shoe brakes, VW bus, late 50’s Chrysler automobiles, but not such a small front drum, especially considering the 8000lb GVWR.
They appear to be the same modest sized 11″ units as on the half ton trucks. The rears look a bit bigger; like maybe 12″.
So much for that vaunted Chrysler superior engineering. 🙂
Funny if this were a 1954 Chevrolet somebody wouldve restored it. Or took all that clean sheetmetal and cab for their project.
Those advanced design Chevies have become the hot new collectible, with everybody my age now(under 40) being pickup truck obsessed and finally having some $$$ in their pocket
My BIL has a W-series Dodge, the predecessor to this design. Darn thing refuses to die. He keeps the truck at a summer place on Washington Island, WI on the tip of the Door peninsula. It is the perfect vehicle for occasional hauling on that small 5 x 6 mile island. There just aren’t that many places to go.
Evidently the truck has had multiple owners on the island. During a visit over the fall harvest festival, my BIL realized he had left the keys back home in Milwaukee. Mentioning this to a fellow islander, he soon found out that multiple people on the island still had keys to the Dodge.
Sigh. Life in a small town has a pace all its own.
I think a reason for the lack of success in the US was the rather dreary styling when compared with GM’s AD or the various Ford F-Series. Internationals I believe sold to people who already had an IH of one sort or another and, of course, IH products back then were thought of as the most reliable (although to me the Chrysler flatheads were as good as IH’s engines). In Israel where reliability and price mattered most those were good sellers (often badged as Fargos), in fact I think Mopar was the market leader until the 70s.