After Almost 80 Years: 1942 Dodge Carryall is Carrying On

It’s hard not to well up just a little bit when you see an American war hero like the 1942 Dodge WC-53 Carryall found here on Craigslist thanks to reader Peter Rettig. They were front-line workhorses that helped us win WW II, and they still carry-on carrying-all even today, nearly 80 years after being produced for duty.

Earlier this year, I had the privilege of researching a bit about the Dodge WC series, produced from 1942 to 1945, when a WC-56 came on the market. The ’56 was made to be a recon vehicle, whereas the ’53 was truly made to be a war-horse worker for front-line responsibilities. Personally, I love the stance and stature of this series – such a wonderful blend of rugged toughness, and yet stylishly incorporating the obvious roof line from the late 1930’s and early 1940’s Dodge ½ ton commercial panel vans.

What’s interesting about these vehicles is just that: interest. A new generation is appreciating and preserving many of the WC variants that survived the war and returned to the home after victory. At the extreme end, you can plunk down nearly $300k and get the ultimate WC completely restored, updated and modified by companies like Legacy Classic out of Driggs, Idaho. And you can still find a handful of survivors in driving condition, like the WC-53 for $19k available at Hemmings.

So at $7k, this ’42 might actually be a decent deal – and certainly allows for a bit of room to make some cash if your intent is to restore and resale. The seller says it “…was running when parked two years ago…” so it might be a runner with just a little work. Whether your dream is to update it to modern standards or preserve the high standards it was born with – this 1942 Carryall is a classic worth preserving for generations to come!

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  1. canadainmarkseh Member

    These trucks just have toughness written all over them, this will have the very dependable dodge flathead inline 6 cylinder engine. Probably a 218 in this one. If I had it I’d restore it, except I’d paint it gloss olive green with gloss black fenders. I might want to slide a cumins diesel into it as well, if they were being built now I’d like to think that they would come with a cumins. I’d also look at axle ratios to get some mor speed out of it.

    • Crash

      Why would you want to restore a full-on military vehicle with gloss paint? That’s like putting wide whitewalls on a brand new muscle car.

  2. Beatnik Bedouin

    I’d probably want to restore it to original, olive drab and all.

    Cool find!

  3. geomechs geomechs Member

    These are highly desirable and thus highly collectible. Not all that practical if you want to do a lot of driving. Underpowered and ride very rough. I suppose you could soften the suspension and then look into changing the axle ratios for something that will keep you at pace with the HD Servi-cars. Myself, I’d restore it, right down to the Olive Drab, flathead six and all. But then, I’m in no hurry when I take my relics out for some excercise….

  4. Hide Behind

    More likely than not this rig was US duty not overseas as it lacks for one thing the combat zone lighting on front.
    Cannot see if it has military tow hooks or equipment carry hooks on outside that the overseas had, including Jerry can mounts and tire carrier.
    The axle bearings need constant greasing and seals of newer type help.
    As to lower , higher speed gears, good luck on that as axles must match, and while later Dodge changed the gear ratios damn near always steep.
    Double clutching leg muscles a must, and to steer arms like Popeye would help, and a butt cushion nice to have, a great thumb-breaker in the rough at any speed out of granny.
    A diesel would be great swap as combination of steep gears and low rev torque of diesel would match.
    I do not remember compression numbers but could run on just about any flammable liquids, and mixtures.

    • Dick Johnson

      That’s where the trucker term “thumbs up” originated. The uninitiated would hook their thumbs around the steering wheel, and for one pot hole only, would never be inclined to ever do that again.

      I have had arthritis in both thumbs for quite some time now.

    • TouringFordor

      I’ve heard that most WWII vehicles were left overseas rather than go to the trouble of shipping them back. The survivors are ones that had duty stateside. My Vietnam era M35A spent its life in Alabama, at an Army National Guard base.

      • Jett

        I bet that’s true—let the locals use them for ambulances, buses and work trucks. Or if it was anything like helicopters in the Vietnam era, they’d dump them off of aircraft carriers on the way back at war’s end

  5. UK Paul 🇬🇧

    I would buy this if I wasn’t half way through a 5 year home renovation at the moment.
    Mind you I may have bought one or two other things by now .. i do like it though.
    Bit more practical in the UK than a Jeep too.

  6. Jimmy

    I would update the drivetrain axles and all for drivability but keep the body all original. Keep all the original parts in case I wanted to return it to original. Great find.

  7. Dirk

    Please, please, please, don’t destroy……… I mean “restore” it. Rebuild it mechanically and keep it just the way it is. It’s an important piece of American history and it’s gorgeous!

  8. Mark S.

    I wouldn’t change a thing. Get her mechanically up to snuff and go out and have fun. I don’t know if I would even paint her, military vehicles are the only things that look cool w/ some patina. IMO.

  9. David Miraglia

    Better than a Hummer . I’d definitely want to own one of these.

    • Jett

      Better than a hummer (glorified chevy canyon or Colorado, depending if you’re talking h2 or h3), definitely. Better than a HUMVEE? Not so much…

  10. Gary

    Am thinking a property rental outfit might want to make this one a movie star. Hmmmm …

  11. LC

    begs the question why Chrysler saw fit to wait so long to come out with their all steel production wagon body. I could easily see this body introduced back in 1941 as two and four door Suburban wagons.

  12. KevinLee

    I’m a proud Texan, that being said, I’m not into the luxury monster truck family haulers you see everywhere. I would restore the body, with a nice paint job. Put in a later model interior with just a few creature comforts. Sit it all on a restored and boxed frame with modern suspension with an acceptable ride and diesel drivetrain. Keep the stock ride height. Then notice you get more admiring looks than a new luxo”truck”!

    • Jett

      I live in Alberta (the Texas of Canada…), and fully agree. Luxury monster trucks are EVERYWHERE up here. Driven to the kids soccer or hockey games, parked in underground parkades in the high rise office tower downtown, or used to tow a trailer two weeks a year.

      • joebazots

        When I bought my Super Crew F150 (2 WD), lots of people asked why I didn’t go full lifted 4 X 4 diesel crew cab rig – maybe even one of the Roush trucks that seem so popular around here in TN. I tell them it’s my “old man” truck. It has what I want, and nothing more. So many of those will never see anything more off road than parking it in the grass of the sideyard to wash it.

        I love this old truck. I’m with the crowd that says sort the mechanicals and leave it as is. Rarely do I like the “patina” look – but on an old military truck, I think it works.

        Really cool old truck!

  13. chad Member

    just like the others, restore as is & use. A yr later I’d know what mods (& THAT might B a never ending journey, eh?).

    Love to take at least 1 time on my local trails to C what kinda guys drove these in my father’s day!

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