The area just west of Huntsville Texas has recently been very good to me, car spotting wise. I ran across a bunch of interesting cars and have just about all of them written now. Although this Curbside Classic is a bit rusty and worn out, it’s still a neat truck. Maybe too far gone to restore, but who knows?
Regular readers have most likely seen this little beauty before. If you need to jog your memory the little red car is the accidental Maserati BiTurbo Spyder. The for sale sign painted on the windshield of its companion identifies the Panel Truck as a ’52 Dodge. Most of these trucks have been worked to death without a whole lot of documentation of their passing. I did find some items of interest while reading about this one.
Dodge made its first pickup after it was acquired by Chrysler in 1929. It had a four cylinder engine and the biggest selling point was that it had hydraulic brakes on all four wheels. If you ever drove an old Ford with mechanical brakes through a puddle of water, you know exactly why this was a selling point.
In 1936 Dodge moved the front axle on their big trucks back about 8 inches and brought the engine closer to the nose. They shifted the payload forward and gave it greater capacity. In 1948 they extended this treatment to the small trucks.
The B Series, as it was known, consisted of the B1-B 1/2 ton and B1-C 3/4 ton versions. Heavier duty versions, such as chassis cab models, were also available with greater capacity and towing ratings.
These models had different model designations than the more run of the mill B1-B and B1-C trucks. Of course, a panel truck was available, and a really neat woody station wagon (seen below, on the left) was also in the line for those with the cash.
The Dodge B Series was introduced at the same time as Chevy and Ford came out with their new postwar trucks. Despite the many fans of the other two truck brands, the B Series was just a little bit better, for several reasons. First of all, the Dodge had a much nicer cab, with greater glass area and a taller seating position. Optional rear quarter windows on pickups improved visibility even more.
These new trucks also had better weight distribution, as the engine was moved forward and the rear axle was moved further back on the frame. Wheelbase on the 1/2 ton pickups was 108 inches down 8″ from 1947 and earlier versions. Other notable features included a high-torque starter motor, moistureproof ignition, and a heavy duty battery. Little wonder that Chrysler Corp. called these “Job-Rated” trucks.
Another plus was a new cross-steering arrangement that resulted in a mere 37 degree turning radius, very good for the times. Chrysler Corporation was still known as the “engineering company” at the time, and it showed.
This new cab style was called the Pilot House in advertising and included raising the bench seat for greater visibility. It was all business and the only concession that I found for the driver’s comfort were the flexible springs and heavy duty shock absorbers.
During its run there were some detail changes. In 1950 the 3 speed manual transmission moved from the floor to the steering column, and in 1953 the big news was Truck-O-Matic, which you have probably guessed was an optional automatic transmission. The last year for this style was 1953.
Dodge’s first flathead six was borrowed from Plymouth. The Dodge sixes that were developed later had a 230 CID model rated at 102hp for the one ton truck. The half ton came in with a 218 with 95hp, while 3/4 ton models got a boost to 108 horses. This one has been outdoors for so long you can’t read anything but rust on the side.
One thing I found interesting while reading up on this truck: I always thought the Fargo was just a Dodge with different name stamping. According to the source of most of this information, the Fargo actually used mostly Plymouth and DeSoto parts.
Panel trucks may be a thing of the past (unless you count the recently departed Chevy HHR), but this old Dodge is proof positive that they can take a lot of abuse and neglect – and weather a lot of seasons.
What a great old truck. I love these old Dodges. They are sort of exotic. Everyone has Chevys and Fords, and even old Internationals seem more common. Was it just a lack of dealers in all of the little midwestern towns that caused these to lag so far in the sales wars?
I also love the old panel delivery body style. By the 60s, vans had taken over and these went away, except that they continue to live (kind of) in the Suburban and Expedition.
It’s a good thing this is in Texas. This is the kind of thing I would want to drag home just because. I have no time for such a thing and Mrs. JPC would certainly not be happy. So I guess I am safe. I hope that someone takes this one to a good home.
Very nice presentation. I enjoyed it.
Looks quite save-able, yeah there’s no paint but most of the metal seems to be still there. Kick out the dents in the roof, sandblast and epoxy prime the whole thing and you’re off to a good start.
Still, vehicles like this stand ever less chance of being restored. You couldn’t make money on this so it would have to be a labor of love, and sadly there are ever less people interested.
As a kid I used to ride around in a neighbors’ 56 Fargo. Nice little truck from when trucks were tools.
I rescued a ’50 International L-170 about five years ago that’s still sitting in the back of the barn in hopes I’ll eventually have time to rehabilitate it (for hauling hay). It’s basically worth scrap if I were to try to sell it, and even restored to the Nth degree, it would only bring maybe $1500-2000 around here (if that).
The maths simply don’t work for much more than fixing the mechanicals and leaving the patina in place. (I’m a sucker for patina, though)
Don’t you dare remove that patina! It’s taken a lot of work to acquire it.
I think there would be a few trucks like that out here that get brought out for harvest etc. I’d think most would be later 1950’s and 60’s vintage rather than 1950 however! My uncle has a Mack B61 prime mover that still earns its (seasonal) living.
Re the subject Dodge panel truck – camper conversion???
My uncle owned a 1952 dually stake, like the yellow one in the ad, which he used to transport oxygen and acetylene back and forth to the Airco plant about 30 miles away. It had a two-speed rear end and topped out at 45 mph while making a lot of noise. The only reason I would ride with my uncle’s assistant on these trips is that he would give me cigarettes and tell me about the sex that he had with his wife. Important stuff for a 13-year old.
LOL! that’s great!
It sounds like your uncle’s truck cab (at least with that driver) was more of a halfway house than a pilot house.
Let’s just say that I was a junkie for the facts of life.
Maybe I’m overstating the danger, but something about cigarettes in close proximity to bottled oxygen and acetylene seems a little dicey!
The intentional flame when you actually combine the two gases and braze or weld is much hotter than any cigarette. Also, they are secured in metal containers versus the rubber hose. I think kevin was not at all unique in wanting to smoke cigarettes and hear about sex. He certainly was not very unique.
Had to get that in Kevin.
Hey hey hey! At that age I was pretty damn sure that I was the first person in the world to have invented masturbation. And then found out that you could have a partner. Things went downhill from there.
Hahaha! “The only reason I would ride with my uncle’s assistant on these trips is that he would give me cigarettes and tell me about the sex that he had with his wife.” — has to be the funniest sentence I’ve ever read on CC, bravo!
Agreed, Doug… It looks do-able.
I love these 50s panel trucks. Growing up in Argentina in the early 70s I recall that for a short time the police had broadcast a bulletin to be on the look out for a kidnapper/ fiend that drove an old one of these (a Fargo, i believe) — I can still remember seeing the artist’s rendition of this guy, you know, the hoody and sunglasses sketching, 🙂
Those Fargo panel deliveries were common as dirt at the time, so I can recall playing in the street w/ over a dozen kids (pickup soccer games) then scattering in all directions at the sight of one of these vehicles — then running 3 blocks back to my house at the supposed sight of that scary old Fargo. To this day, I see a Fargo delivery truck and I get weak in the knees.
Would love to have one, thou.
Hey, lotsa cool stuff still on the road in Argentina. My best CC find there was the genuine F4U Corsair I was stunned to find on a pole at the Trelew airport. This was about 1995 and it has since been taken down and restored. (No. 121881)
Oh no kidding !
I”m from MarDelPlata and have done the obligatory wandering around the wine regions, Bariloche, some of the north and Ushaiia and Comodoro Rivadavia—, but never have found the time to see Patagonia so, Trelew has escaped me.
Would have died to see that Corsair! Besides the P51 and P47 it is a favorite design!
Old dodge trucks are pretty common down here. Especially on the two land blacktop in the small towns. If someone from the rustbelt were to bring a trailer down here and look, he wouldn’t go home empty. Lots of still restorable things sitting out in fields. The last owner might have been dead for 40 years and the vehicles are still there. Lost title anyone? They aren’t on a computer.
Some towns have bunches of dodges from the 70’s and 80’s still running around. Think it depended on the dealer. Some dealers have been there forever. The only problem with coming to Texas looking for vehicles are that you wouldn’t get thru Kansas, Oklahoma, New Mexico etc. Also, the scrap metal dealers are doing the same thing on a local basis.
Glad you enjoyed it. Thanks for what you did Tom.
Fine old Dodge. A guy down the street was really into these vintage Dodges, and always had a panel or two around. But he moved on just before I started shooting. Shoot!
This old panel truck has the three grille bars that were found on the earlier Pilot House Dodges. I think that in 1951 they changed to the two crossbars with the Job-Rated emblem in the center as shown in several of the brochure photos. My suspicion is that the owner doesn’t have any paperwork on the panel truck and was just guessing at the model year.
I’ve never seen the panel version of this Dodge, but I actually do see the pickups every once in awhile – some still being used in farm duty out on the east end of Long Island. A couple of years ago a utility bed ’52 B showed up for sale at the Mobil gas station around the corner. It was fire engine red so I imagine that’s what it’s function in life was at one time. I think they wanted like $5k for it, which was ridiculous… it was running and functional, but definitely needed plenty of work. It didn’t stay on the lot too long, though, so I guess someone else felt differently!
Am I the only one who feels sorry for that late eighties (’87?) Maserati Biturbo convertible left sitting there to die…???
It probably had it coming.
**Snicker, snicker** Yeah Michael I think you’re it.
I drove past the maserati again today. Someone cut the grass so technically the story needs another title. Don’t think I’m very interested in giving it one.
Nice find Lee that Panel van is well worth reviving to me anyway theres still lots of Dodge and Fargo pickups out here but no vans. I t looks fairly solid just a few dents to beat out and the engine would probably be easy to sort or replace with a Hemi or slant 6.
I like the old panels trucks, and if you had the time, money, and inclination, the old Dodge would make a good project. I’d definitely want to update the mechanicals, though, and put in more modern steering and brakes. Back in the early ’70’s, a friend’s dad bought an early Fifties Chevy panel truck and fixed it up as a work truck. He left the patina in place, and it was a cool old truck.
i just bought a 51 d5? its the 1 ton stake it is a time capsule was in a barn for 25-30 years and buried under a pile of stuff the motor wont turn …yet but it is in amazing shape was never worked hard has NO rust and all the glass is perfect had an old first gen transistor radio in the glove box even they had just put new 7.50-16s all the way around and they are still perfect to bad the paint has faded to a salmon pink it was a sweet grey and it will be back to that someday im in MT so the time i have left to get er going is running short
Buenos dias, escribo desde La Paz Bolivia, para los fanaticos del DODGE – FARGO, esta unica y exclusiva Panel 1948.
When I was Child My Dad Has A 1952 Dodge Panel I am now &3 I Looking to see if I can get one to restore or ready restored to Honor My Dad ,
Please if some one know the owner of one of this contact me at
I have a 52 panel that is in the process of being refurbished. Great body good paint. Has been garaged for 10years. No time to work on it. Ready to get it a new home. Serious seller. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information. Great possibilities.
Have your panel 1952 dodge panel