Dodge Power Wagon

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Dodge Power Wagon
1946 Dodge Power Wagon.jpg
ManufacturerDodge (Chrysler)
Production1945–1980, 2005–present
Model years1946–1980, 2005–present
AssemblyWarren, Michigan, United States
Body and chassis
ClassFull-size pickup truck
LayoutFront engine, four-wheel drive
RelatedOcdresto Classic truck resto
Legacy Dodge Carryall
Wheelbase126 in (3,200 mm)
PredecessorDodge WC series
SuccessorDodge Ram

The Dodge Power Wagon is a four wheel drive medium duty truck that was produced in various model series from 1945 to 1980 by Dodge, then as a nameplate for the Dodge Ram from 2005 to 2013, and, most recently ‘13-present, as an individual model marketed by Ram Trucks. It was developed as the WDX truck, and until about 1960 it was internally known by its engineering code T137 – a name still used for the original series by enthusiasts.[1]

The original civilian version, commonly called the "flat fender" Power Wagon or FFPW, was mechanically based on Dodge's 3/4-ton WC series of World War II military trucks. The Power Wagon was the first mass-produced 4x4 medium duty truck, and represents a significant predecessor to the many modern four wheel drive trucks in use today. Updated variants continued in production until 1964.

Following Chrysler Corporation policy of badge engineering to provide a greater number of sales outlets overseas, Power Wagons were also marketed around the world under the Fargo and De Soto badges.[citation needed]


The Power Wagon was developed from the WW II Dodge WC series. Shown WC-52 became a fire truck in 1959 (Kraków, Poland).

The civilian Power Wagon continued the lineage of limited production Dodge 4WD trucks from the 1930s, that proved basic four wheel drive design concepts, primarily for the military. Mechanically derived from Dodge's 1942–1945 3/4-ton WC series military trucks, the Power Wagon was introduced in 1946 as the first civilian production 4x4 truck. During its development phase, it was initially named the WDX General Purpose Truck, a name still used on some of the preliminary materials handed out by Dodge, before sales began in March 1946. The 'W' was a continuation of the 1941–1947 model year series, followed by a 'D' instead of a 'C', because the civilian truck was a 1-ton rating instead of the Army's ​34-ton, and the 'X' was added to indicate four-wheel drive, as opposed to all previous civilian two-wheel driven models.[2] Some believe the truck was renamed "Power Wagon" after a contemporaneous trucking magazine with that title.[3][4]

Meant to compete with military-based Ford/Marmon-Herrington and GMC trucks, it had an enclosed all-weather civilian cab and a purpose-designed 8-foot cargo box. It had a 126 inch (3,200 mm) up to a 147" wheelbase chassis and featured the 230 cubic-inch flathead inline-six engine, a 4-speed manual transmission, a two-speed 1.96-1 ratio low range transfer case for part time 4-wheel drive with a power take off (PTO) which would send power front or rear for operating auxiliary equipment, and 9.00/16-8 ply tires on 16×6.50 inch 5-stud split ring steel rims. In 1961 the 230 was replaced with the 251 cubic-inch flat head six.[5]

In 1963, a new 225 cubic-inch slant six replaced the 251 cubic-inch six used in 1961 & 1962 W100 & W200 Power Wagon Trucks. The Power Wagon W300 continued to use the 251 cubic-inch L-6 engine. The new 225 cubic-inch engine (the 225-2) was able to power the med. duty trucks due to improvements including; roller timing chains, bi-metal connecting rod bearings, stellite-faced exhaust valves, roto caps on exhaust valves and polyacrylic valve stem seals.

The nominal one-ton rated Power Wagon's gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) was 8,700 pounds. Its maximum payload was 3,000 pounds. A big-block 383 V8 engine 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 hauling. 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 as the truck grew in size and weight, but the basic package remained generally constant throughout its life and underwent one last major body change in 1972.


Civilian 1-ton Power Wagon "Military-Type, Flat Fender Style"[edit]

Early post-war postcard of a Power Wagon wrecker truck

First Series: late 1945-50 Includes the following years and model numbers: 1945-47 WDX; 1948-9 B-1-PW; 1950 B-2-PW; Additional Distinguishing Features: (4) rectangular stake pockets on each side of the bed; round speedometer with a rectangular gauge cluster on each side. The two rectangular gauge housings have the instrument lettering on the glass instead of the face of the gauge.

Second Series: 1951-(early)56 Includes the following years and model numbers: 1951 B-3-PW; 1952- early 53 B-3-PW; late 1953 B-4-PW; 1954 C-1-PW; 1955- early 56 C-3-PW; Additional Distinguishing Features: (3) slightly curved stake pockets on each side, bed sides are stamped. Looking at these bed sides from the rear, the top rail section of the bed angles out at 45 degrees with a rounded top edge. Group of 4 gauges in center of dash (Fuel, Amp, Temp, Oil) with silver/grey faces.

Third Series: 1956(late)-71 Includes the following years and model numbers: Late 1956 C-4-PW; 1957 W300; 1958-9 W300M; 1960-71 WM300; Additional Distinguishing Features: (3) square stake pockets on each side with stamped bed sides. Looking at the bed sides from the rear, the top of the bed is flat, with a rounded edge. Group of 4 gauges in the center of dash (Fuel, Amp, Temp, Oil) with black faces. NP420 Synchronized Transmission also used.

Third Series EXPORT: 1957-78 M601 open cab, flat faced cowl models and M615 ambulance

W100 and W200[edit]

The first light-duty civilian Power Wagons came out in 1957 with the introduction of the W100 and W200 pickups and panel trucks, Town Wagon (with rear side windows) and Town Panel without rear side windows (beginning in 1957 ​12-ton 2WDs were D100s and 4WDs were W100s). These trucks featured conventional cabs and front sheet metal and the cargo boxes used on the 2WD models. Their 4WD mechanical components—axles, transfer cases and transmissions—were sourced from outside manufacturers. Chrysler Corporation owned the New Process Gear Company (competitors generally used Spicer (Dana) transfer cases and Borg-Warner or in-house transmissions).[6]


A one-ton W300 light-duty/civilian type Power Wagon was released in 1958.

W500 and W600[edit]

The two-ton W500 Power Wagon (only a chassis cab was built) was introduced in 1956 as the C3-HW, and lasted through the 1971 model year. This was replaced in 1972 with the W600 (also cab and chassis only), which was produced until 1977, when all Dodge medium-duty models were discontinued. To compensate for the loss of the medium-duty W600 a new W400 chassis cab was introduced in 1977.

Willock Chassis Swivel[edit]

From about 1952 through 1958 an option known as the Willock Chassis Swivel was available. With this option the frame was split into two pieces at the point where the bed of the truck met the rear of the cab. A longitudinal swivel system allowed these two pieces to rotate with respect to each other, with the result that almost without regard to the terrain all four wheels would always be on the ground. Somewhere between 50 and 100 examples were built. While Willock is no longer in business the chassis swivel is still manufactured by third-party vendors and can be incorporated into existing vehicles.[citation needed]

Replacement by Dodge Ram[edit]

The Power Wagon nameplate was discontinued in 1981 with the introduction of the Dodge Ram, with the four-wheel-drive models being sold under the "Power Ram" nameplate through 1993. 1989 to 1993 models saw the addition of an optional 6-cylinder Cummins Turbo-diesel engine.

First generation gallery[edit]


For 2005, Dodge resurrected the Power Wagon name on a version of the Dodge Ram 2500. It was a special off-road version of the Ram 2500 with a 5.7L Hemi V8 as the only engine option. As of 2014, the only engine available is the 6.4L Hemi. Interior configurations remain similar to standard models. From 2005-09, the Power Wagon offered a choice between a regular cab with an 8 ft (2.4 m) bed or a Quad Cab (extended cab) with a 6.25 ft (1.9 m) bed on a 140 in (3,556 mm) wheelbase, but as of 2010, the Power Wagon is only available as a crew cab with a 6.33 ft (1.9 m) bed on a 149 in (3,785 mm) wheelbase. Special features of the Power Wagon include:

  • Electronically controlled locking differentials (front and rear)
  • Electronically disconnecting front sway bar
  • Integrated 12,000 lb electric Warn winch
  • 17 inch diameter Alcoa forged wheels
  • Large 33 inch diameter BF Goodrich All Terrain T/A 285/70R17 tires. Replaced by Goodyear Duratracs beginning with the 2014 model year.
  • Bilstein Monotube Gas Charged Shocks[7]
  • Extensive skidplating: front stabilizer bar, transfer case, fuel tank, special skid plate crossmembers welded to the frame with open bars bolted to them across the midsection.
  • 1.4" factory lift in front, 1.0" in rear (0.4" front and rear due to larger tires). Softer rate springs.
  • Strengthened torque converter
  • 4.56:1 axle ratios (4.10 as of the 2014 model)
  • Revised clutch fan
  • Strengthened steering gear
  • Low range 4x4 throttle mapping changed.

Upgraded suspension and larger tires naturally give the truck a taller ride height. Clearance lights and tow hooks are standard equipment. Fender flares are standard equipment as well. The fender flares assist with tire coverage due to the Power Wagon's wider tires.


6.4 L Hemi V8 (410 hp / 429 lb ft of torque) for 2014 to current model year

5.7 L Hemi V8 (383 hp / 400 lb ft of torque) for 2010 - 2013 model years

5.7 L Hemi V8 (345 hp / 375 lb ft of torque) for 2005 - 2009 model years


A six speed G56 manual transmission was standard, with an automatic transmission optional. As of 2010 the manual transmission is no longer an option. 2012 models have the 66RFE 6 speed automatic transmission, instead of the 545RFE 5 speed automatic in the previous models. As of 2019 a 8HP75-LCA 8 speed automatic from ZF is standard.

Transfer case[edit]

The transfer case was a New Venture 271 and had a 2.72:1 low range gear ratio. A transfer case skid plate was and is standard equipment. A manual shift-on-the-fly transfer case is the only available, the electronic shift on-the-fly has never been an option. As of the 2012 model year, the transfer case has changed to a Borg-Warner 44-47 manual shift-on-the fly. Low range is now 2.64:1.


The axles are manufactured by American Axle & Manufacturing, Inc. The front is an AAM 9.25 and the rear is a hybrid AAM 10.5 with the larger axle shafts from the AAM 11.5. Despite the fact the axles have locking differentials, the rear axle is also a helical-type limited slip differential when unlocked. The axles are only available with a 4.56:1 gear ratio. Non Power Wagon 2500 Ram trucks only have 3.42:1, 3.73:1, or 4.10:1 gear ratios. 2010 models (along with other Ram trucks) received larger universal joints.

2012 Weight ratings:

  • GVWR - 8510 lb
  • GCWR - 17,000 lb
  • GAWR (front) - 4500 lb
  • GAWR (rear) - 6200 lb
  • Max payload - 1880 lb
  • Max towing - 10,250 lb
  • Curb weight - 6800 lb

2013 updates[edit]

The New Venture Gear transfer case is replaced by a Borg-Warner unit. Interior updated ala 1500 Rams.

2014 updates[edit]

The RAM Power Wagon will have a 6.4 Hemi V8 as the standard engine; the 5.7 Hemi V8 goes away. The 6.4 has 410 horsepower and is also available in standard Rams. The transmission and transfer case remain unchanged (Borg Warner 44-47). The axle gears change from 4.56:1 gear ratios to 4:10 gear ratios. The rear axle is now a 11.5 AAM axle (with selectable locker). The rear suspension now has a 5-link coil spring arrangement instead of leaf springs. The front suspension has been changed to a radius arm arrangement (3-link) instead of the 5-link used since 2005. Tires are now Goodyear Duratracs.

See also[edit]


External links[edit]