Hemi Powered Forest Truck: 1965 Dodge Power Wagon

Former fire department and forest service trucks are some of our favorites to find for sale, largely due to having low miles and lots of desirable heavy duty equipment. This 1965 Dodge Power Wagon is one such example, except its heavier duty than most: it’s packing a 392 Hemi engine under the hood, supposedly with just 19,000 original miles. This low use truck did duty a forest service department in Arizona, and I’m sure it was sold at a municipal auction for far less than it’s listed here on craigslist in Los Angeles. The seller notes he has been offered almost $8,000 for the engine alone, but he’s not parting it out.

The body appears to be laser straight, and the seller notes that it was previously repainted red. While the paint appears to be quite flat, it does look honest enough to not be hiding any previous bondo’d repairs, but you’ll have to check it out in person to make that determination. The long bed, single cab setup is pretty typical for municipal agencies that seem to love the big beds. The trucks ordered by the fire and highway departments tend to be spartan by design, as taxpayers don’t want to pony up for every convenience under the sun – but those organizations can usually opt for powerful drivetrain components without catching public scorn.

That is a big, beautiful engine, and one that I’m sure any number of drag racers and hot rod builders would like to see under the hood of their project car. The seller notes this engine puts out a healthy 345 b.h.p., which would make it the higher compression engine of the two options available, both of which came with a single four barrel carburetor. When you consider how old this truck is, that’s a monster motor no matter how you slice it. Even better, it’s paired to a four speed with four wheel drive, and the seller is confident it’s never gone off road. I’ll bet some of the boys in the forest service had a good time with this potent pickup.

And, lest we forget, it’s a claimed 19,000 mile machine. That means things like the painted dash still appear to be in excellent condition. Now, as mentioned earlier – citing my experience working for the bridge department in upstate New York – you couldn’t load up on luxury with these trucks, so don’t expect much in the way of comfort equipment inside the Power Wagon. But you can add whatever you may like in terms of carpeting, radios, or other conveniences once you bring this bad boy home. However, I’d be inclined to keep it the stripped down brute that it is and go hunting for Hondas on a Friday night. Would you modify this Power Wagon or leave it as is? Thanks to Barn Finds reader Rocco B. for the find.

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  1. Angrymike

    Ok guys, someone help me here, I thought the hemi went out when ma-mopar came out with the poly engine in the early 60’s ??!

    • Ken Jennings

      Prob a transplant, but then again, I believe you could get an old WW2 style Powerwagon with a flat head six up until the late 60s, so who knows. PWs never rocked my world. Great for getting work done around the farm, but for anything else, no thank you. It has been decades since my last ride in one and my rear end is still sore from the pounding it took.

    • Dave

      Not the Poly, which was a 318 only, but the B (361-383) and RB (413-426 Wedge-440) motors. Early Hemis were expensive to build and the new motors made the same power but cost much less to build.

  2. R Soul

    The second generation Hemi was the 426 from 1964 -1971.

    • Dave

      But in this era the truck was available with a 350 horse 426 Wedge. Popular Science tested one along with trucks from Ford and Chevy. The 392 likely came from an older Imperial or big Chrysler.

  3. Bear

    $17900 asking price seems STEEP!
    …but it IS a Power Wagon.
    …& it IS a Hemi.
    So who knows.

    I’d want to look that body over CAREFULLY for rust.
    Dodge didn’t rustproof them very well back in the 60s, & while the exterior paint might look good they tend to rust from the other side of the sheetmetal 1st.
    The panel below the rear taillights, cab floors & rockers, & door bottoms are typical 1st rust areas to check. Rust also tend to “appear” in various places (high & low) on the rear half of the front fenders (from debris & moisture flung behind that panel via the front wheels).

    Fun trucks otherwise.
    Very dependable & rugged.
    & NOT your everyday mid 60’s Ford or Chevy! :-)

  4. Nevadahalfrack Nevadahalfrack Member

    Crazy money but this could be crazy fun! Another good looker. Wouldn’t care to go off-road much with that elephant size (& weight) motor but it’d probably tow your Allis Chalmers out of the mud hole without much grunting and haul your trailer full of fire apparatus wherever it’s needed.
    Simple truck for simpler times, though it’ll be a real chore come engine rebuild time..

    • Howard A Member

      Hi Nev, the only thing I’ve found that could get a tractor out of a mudhole, is a crawler tractor. It looks like it was always red, and I can’t find any forest trucks that were red. Forest service used a lot of the redesigned D series with single headlights, and usually had step boxes. Neat truck, and I’d believe the $8,000 offer on the motor, they are incredibly rare today, and to think, in those old Chryslers, they were just oily slugs we beat the heck out of.

      • Nevadahalfrack Nevadahalfrack Member

        Good point on all counts, Howard-my appreciation of the build overshadowed the logic of traction and torque.. and the only red fire fighting brush apparatus I’ve seen around these parts was assigned to city or county fire departments.
        With regards to the 392 Hemi, didn’t guys like Don Garlits and Ed Donovan use them in the early dragsters? They seem to favor them as I recall and bought them up in droves from the wrecking yards, then later bought them new from Mopar..

      • Howard A Member

        I think ANY hemi from that time was popular. I believe Chrysler made a 331, a 354, and a 392, while other divisions had their own versions, any one would do nicely in a street rod. NASCAR was quick to outlaw it, but drag racers picked up everyone they could find. Today, a modern drag race hemi engine is not made by Chrysler, but it’s design is still the same, almost 60 years later. Pretty amazing nothing has replaced it,,yet.

      • Nevadahalfrack Nevadahalfrack Member

        In HS “study hall” while going through some HR (?) magazines I think I saw something about Mickey Thompson MAKING Hemi heads for Fords and Pontiacs-does anybody out there in BF Land recall anything like that?
        If that was true, what happened??

  5. David G

    Engine is a transplant, never available in these from the factory. The 392 was made for two years, 1957 and ’58. Personally, I would rather have a 383 or 413 in this truck, and can almost certainly guarantee it came from the factory with a slant 6 or a Poly 318 V8.

    • Bob

      Back in the 50’s and 6-‘s most any State or Federal Agency could order cars and trucks with any engine available, even original Hemi motors, to include Red Rams of smaller displacement. My Grand Dad got a ’59 Dodge 1-Ton from the Montana Forest Serviced that had a 392 – 2 barrel motor in it. Go figure !!!!!!

  6. Bmac777 Member

    My friend had a 66. Over the years he did some strange things to vehicles, this was one of them.
    It was a 318 2wd but he put some 32’s on it with a homemade lift kit that put the bottom of the doors around 3 ft off the ground , and with those big headlights it looked like a bug coming down the road. A true monstrosity that sure got noticed

  7. Mark Toomey

    Cool truck, but close to pretending to be something it ain’t. Hard pass.

  8. Mitchell Member

    Build the 4WD CSS Dodge never built

  9. Jeff

    The Ad States The Motor Number CE57 which was transplanted from a 1957

    Chrysler Imperial, factory specs are 325 horse 392 with 9.25 to 1 compression.

    Nice motor however it is not “345 B.H.P.”

  10. Kenneth Carney

    A friend of mine was lucky enough to buy
    a ’64 dually crew cab. When the original
    engine shot craps, he swapped in a 413
    from a badly rusted New Yorker of the same year. He also used the 727 Torque
    Flite out the donor car so that his wife
    could drive it too. The swap worked great and he repainted the truck with the
    original commercial green paint it came with so it looked as good as it drove.
    What was funny was the fact that his wife was quite short and had trouble
    seeing over the dashboard whenever
    she drove it! He built up the pedals and
    added an extra tall seat cushion to aid
    the ease of driving even better. To this
    day I can still see this tiny little woman climbing in and out of that beast of a
    truck. Great times, even greater truck.

    • Mike Brown

      Sounds about like my 5ft nothin 105# (soaking wet) wife driving my stock height ’78 K-35 dually. I didn’t make any modifications for her though. She puts a pillow behind her to reach the pedals.

  11. Dave

    My memory of these vehicles was and still is how painful they were to drive. Somebody will buy and enjoy this. However, it belongs in the woods with the rest of the animals. Perhaps only to be seen at the general store for a fill-up.

    • Mike Brown

      Actually, it belongs in a Lowes or Home Depot parking lot showing todays wanna be trucks what a REAL truck is. Can’t fit that sheet of plywood in your little 5 1/2′ bed? Here, let me show you how it’s done.

  12. BR

    City/county forestry trucks are red. Federal forestry trucks are green (varying shades), and federal BLM forestry trucks are a pinkish red.

    • Chas358 Chas358 Member

      Neat old truck. I think the Hemi is a ’57. Somebody call Big Daddy Don and tell him he missed a Hemi. 😀

  13. Madtrap

    Was for sale two weeks ago on Craigslist in Tucson for 9k. Lol.

  14. John

    “Go hunting Hondas “
    You better lay off that stuff, Jeff…
    The truck’s price is a joke!

  15. BR
  16. TimM

    Really cool build but I would suspect you could find something much cooler to put that motor in but nevertheless it’s cool but I wouldn’t pay that kind of money for this truck!!!!! Bet it could roast some tires though!!

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