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Da Vinci Would Have Driven A 1957 Dodge COE

If “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication” (according to Leonardo da Vinci), then he would have deep reverence for the 1957 Dodge COE (cab over engine). It would be nearly impossible to put less into a vehicle’s cab for operating necessities. Therefore, this must be really, really sophisticated – because it sports a speedometer, a rack of three dials in a row, a steering wheel, and a couple knobs. You can count what’s in the cab on one hand. And to me, it’s beautiful!

Hear me out. I just buried a 2001 Quattro TT (RIP my little friend). And I drove to Starbucks in a brand spanking new Honda HRV. Why, with hundreds of amazing choices, did I pick this model? Simplicity. It has a couple (albeit digital) dials, a tv screen that tries to trick me into thinking I’m closer to cars than I really am, and knobs for temperature control. That’s it. So just let me pretend for a moment that my little HRV is a distant cousin to the 1957 Dodge COE, found here on eBay.

According to that year’s brochure, Dodge touted three models that in 1957 – all day in day out workhorses – including the Chassis-Cab, Tractors (trucks designed to pull 50,000 lbs), and this classic, the Cab-Over-Engine models. Sophisticated in simplicity, they were just 81 inches from front bumper to back of cab, all of which sat over a powerful V8. The seller describes it as a “…. short wheel base dump truck…”, so it’s my guess it’s on the shorter side of the optional wheelbase, which was offered from 108 to 162 inches.

Sure, you have to be the type of person who loves bulldogs, or thinks the blob fish is getting a bad rap as the worlds ugliest creature (kind of a resemblance between the ’57 and the fish, right?), but if you’re like me you find joy in the fact this truck, with a lot of TLC and work, could be proudly hulking over modern wanna-be’s like my gleaming little new Honda HRV.


  1. Fred w.

    A face only a momma could love, looks a lot like a “Cars” character. Interesting to see, as you mainly see Ford and Chevy COE’s that are restored.

  2. glen

    For a second, I thought I was looking in the mirror. What a beautiful fish!

  3. geomechs geomechs Member

    Those Dodge COEs had character. I would love to have something like this in my collection but I would be at a loss of what to do with it. Too short to build a deck and use it as a truck. You would feel every last bump. But it would still be a lot of fun.

    Like 1
  4. Ikey Heyman Member

    This was first posted months ago, hopefully the third time is the charm. Lake City is not the most convenient location to get to even if you live in Colorado, but somebody needs to snag this cool truck and get it running. When was the last time you saw one of these on the road??

  5. DaveT

    How do you like the HRV? I shopped one of those hard last winter. For a suburban dad that has a dog and likes to bike, hunt, fish and camp that seemed like a heck of a car. I ended up with a VW Golf Sportwagen that was deeply discounted. No regerts but still look at the Honda when I see them.

    • Garr Larson Member

      Hey Dave – 300 miles in, and loving the HRV. Looked at the Sportwagen myself, but the HRV fit my 38inch long arms a bit better! Enjoy!

      • DaveT

        Yeah they seemed like a lot of bang for the buck, their owners forum was active and positive.
        38” arms??? Great googlymoogly!

  6. DrinkinGasolie

    The poor Blobfish looks a little bit like Kilroy….”Kilroy Was Here”.

    Like 1
  7. Rube Goldberg Member

    Few drivers are around today that drove these, but if they were, they’d tell you these were no fun, but really nothing to compare it to, except older trucks, and this was state of the art. Trucking, except in a few cases, wasn’t what it is today. Most long distance goods moved by rail, and these trucks delivered the goods from the rail warehouse to companies in the city. A cab over was perfect for city alleys, but certainly no road truck. These were powered , generally, by the same motors that powered pickups, there was no need for anything more powerful. Dodge had the market cornered with medium duty city rigs. Great find, but a total update would be in order.

    • Bob

      That was what I was going to write. I drove a short wheelbase, single axle, GMC, that was configured as a tractor. It was great in town, but it was a PITA on the highway. The new trucks today, are like driving a sports car compared to those beasts, but at the time, they were the state of the art.

      Like 1
      • Rube Goldberg Member

        Good heavens, Bob, not a “Crackerbox”???

  8. LAB3

    Da Vinci would be driving a car he designed with an as of yet undiscovered power plant under the hood.

  9. knelipot

    I can see a playmate for Stubby Bob in this old feller. Replace the (looks like a) straight 6 with a fuel tank and put some sort of blown Dodge thing out back. Maybe a long block v12? Lots of possibilities here. It would be wheely funky even if it couldn’t stick it’s blunt nose so high in the air.

  10. Stu

    I’d love to see this body mounted to a late model Ram 4WD chassis.

  11. stillrunners LAWRENCE Member

    So are we pushing our own agenda – or drivers ? No comparison….

  12. SHANE F

    Detroit diesel and a service body and you are set.

  13. Michael Schine

    AllPar calls the “double rocker” a Hemi. Refers to the use of Chrysler passenger engines, from lowly Plymouth 6 to the Imperial Hemi V-8, in the Dodge trucks.

  14. Michael Schine

    It would be cool to turn this into an off-grid RV. It could certainly handle the weight of life support equipment in a compact space: Solar power & battery, potable water storage, etc.

  15. Mark S.

    I to think that this a cool truck. I’d restore the body and transplant it onto a one ton modern chassie with cumins diesel. I’d fab up a retro looking truck box and turn the whole thing into a trailer hauler ( RV or flat deck for your trailer queen ) I’d consider stretching the cab to be able to put in a back bench seat while keeping it a two door cab with front air ride bucket seats. It would be the coolest hauler at the car shows.JMHO.

  16. David Miraglia

    I would keep it in its original form. And no change in the steering or Transmission.

    Like 1
  17. john whitehouse sr

    When I was a kid my Dad had one of these 57 can overs, he sold it to a mobile home moving company, it’s a great truck for that kind of work, I’d like to get one to restore and show in his memory, I have a 1965 Dodge LNT1000, it’s uglier than the 57, and harder to find parts for, it’s about as ugly as a GMC crackerbox, if that’s possible, lol.

  18. Jeff Benson

    Simply an Awesome Truck!

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