Last month I posted a Drive-By Outtake of three older Dodge trucks from the street and while this truck was only pictured from head-on, JP Cavanaugh immediately wondered if it was an example of the relatively rare Town Wagon, a model with which I was not at all familiar with at the time. When I had the chance to pass by the area again, sure enough, that’s what it was.
Access to the site was difficult and it was clear that there was to be no trespassing on the property that the truck sat on, however I was able to carefully walk on the neighbor’s lot and quickly fire off a couple of shots from a distance at which time I was struck just how well this Dodge is starting to assimilate into its surrounding, the paint and patina are blending perfectly with the background. And the tree in the foreground, no way around that.
The Town Wagon first appeared for 1956 as a development of the Town Panel of 1954 to compete with the Suburban and Travelall that were starting to see some popularity for transporting people. The next year, 1957, Dodge decided to put it on top of the W100 Power Wagon underpinnings when that was introduced in order to provide a 4WD option to go along with the standard Town Wagon. The W100 Power Wagon was generally considered a pretty heavy duty machine and really closer to a 3/4ton than a 1/2ton as was delineated by the actual W100 nomenclature.
However when Dodge then revamped the Sweptline pickup truck line for 1961 there was not a new Town Wagon developed, instead it curiously soldiered on with the old body adapted to the new platform. To do so, they had to rejigger the front end to accommodate the 6″ wheelbase stretch. This one does not have that (evidenced by the rear of the front wheel well being almost at the door edge), but does have a Power Wagon badge so that makes this a 1957-1960 model. The 1957’s had different front sheetmetal, the 1960 had a different grille and I believe I see more ’59 cues than ’58 ones so I’ll call it a 1959.
These didn’t really sell very well to the general public but government agencies snapped them up, this one may be an old Forest Service truck or something similar. The whole line continued through 1966 and was then discontinued as the competition got stronger, more determined, as well as more refined. When Dodge decided to get back in the game, of course eventually this basically morphed into the RamCharger of which the owner had two examples in his yard as well, i.e. a true believer.
It’s too bad that Dodge didn’t really grab the ram by the horns and really go with it at the time and never really developed the RamCharger particularly much either for that matter. While the current Jeep and RAM divisions are doing quite well, who knows what could have been had there been a Power Ram Wagon or similar in all of these decades since, perhaps automotive history would have taken some different turns.