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Hot Rod Shop Truck: 1954 Dodge Pickup

A non-enthusiast may be hard-pressed to tell the difference between a B-Series 1953 Dodge pickup and the C-Series 1954 model. Although there are many similar styling cues, the new truck was completely redesigned from the ground up. Starting at the front, a smaller grille now featured parking lights on the sides as opposed to the integrated units of the previous model. The cab retained its Pilot House styling, which included large side glass, wraparound rear corner windows for high visibility, and a new one-piece windshield. Other improvements included a lower hood and fender lines, with the added benefit of a more user-friendly load deck. Even the cab itself now sat lower to allow for easier entry and egress. At the business end, bed lengths could be had in 6.5′ or 7.5′ with 108-inch or 116-inch wheelbases respectively. With all the new updates and available options, Dodge was able to offer a ‘Job Rated’ truck for every customer. Our feature vehicle, located in Avon, Indiana, and found here on eBay, has already had some performance upgrades done and the seller states that it’s currently a daily driver.

The base engine for early 1954 models was the 100hp 218ci flathead six-cylinder, which was phased out mid-year, leaving the 230ci 110hp flathead six as the standard engine. Also halfway through the model year, Dodge began offering V8 options as either the 133hp 241ci or the 172hp 331ci. These engines featured polyspherical heads for increased performance, and were later referred to as the ‘semi-Hemi.’ The ad doesn’t mention our feature vehicle’s original engine, but at some point, it had a 318ci V8 swapped in with a few upgrades including a lumpy cam and what appears to be a performance intake and carburetor, as well as a set of headers. Backing the engine is a three-speed A-727 automatic transmission, with a Ford 9-inch rear end sending power to the wheels. The engine bay appears clean, tidy, and serviceable with plenty of room for performing maintenance.

Interior options for 1954 included a new ‘Air-O-Ride’ seat, with an air pressure regulator located underneath to adjust the cushion level. The interior of our feature vehicle appears to be well-maintained and mostly original, with a couple of aftermarket gauges located under the dash. The plaid fabric adorning the door panels and the bench seat adds to the old farm truck charm, and it looks like there are no rips or stains. The seller notes that the driver’s side window is cracked, as is the main rear window.

Caught between the more popular pre-war trucks and the flashy car-like models of 1957, Dodge pickups of this era are staying relatively affordable for collectors. While there are fewer of them on the market than there are of their competition, a prospective buyer will find that there are still good examples out there. Our feature vehicle would make a great daily driver, hot rod shop truck, or as stated in the ad it could be taken to the next level. With an upgrade from drums to disc brakes and a late-model Hemi swap, it would be sure to surprise more than a few muscle cars at the stoplight.


  1. Gary

    Should have kept the L Head six and the manual if probably came with. They were great dependable trucks. Made a nice sound too. Power is expensive and over rated.

    Like 7
    • Steve R

      A mild 318 would probably be close to the same price to build as the obsolete original engine. Sourcing parts from specialty suppliers can get expensive very quickly. Core 318’s and inexpensive swapmeet carbs and intake manifold can be found without much effort.

      Steve R

      Like 4
  2. bobhess bobhess Member

    … But Gary, power is more fun and a lot safer on the interstates. Nice to see something you don’t see that often all in one piece and running.

    Like 6
  3. Doug from MD.

    I’m with Bob I like the choice of motor for this truck. Having grown up with small blocks because of high insurance on big block cars. The 318s were great little engines. Like to see more people give these little engines or small blocks their due. Glwts.

    Like 7
  4. RKS

    These accept a Volare clip really well and it’s super easy to do. I built my 48 Dodge years ago and did the swap. I went 340/727 with mine tho and it was nice to have power steering and discs out front. Plus with the torsion bar you can get the front end nice and low.

    Like 6
  5. Gene

    I like the 318. It’s a solid engine that’s dependable and keep up with traffic. I’d have to take that damn airplane off the air cleaner and repaint the valve covers a decent color, but it’s a good truck.

    Like 1
  6. 86_Vette_Convertible

    Brings back some good memories. My first save was a 55 Dodge Pickup with a Desoto Firedome Hemi in it. It was given to me as a non-runner and looked terrible with a Robins Egg Blue paint job. Got it running and started having fun with it but had to sell it to get a down payment on my first house. I actually miss it.

    Like 2
  7. Brian

    SOLD! $8100.00 winning bid. Someone got a good deal.

    Like 1
  8. John D.

    One of my first vehicles that I dragged home through our dealership was a 56 pick up that had a 392 hemi stuffed in it. It had flex pipe exhaust with glass packs. A loud, annoying thing that idled me to school at 35 mph. Somebody looked at it, recognized it had a 392 and bought it for the engine for his Imperial restoration project. I let it go because I was in over my head using borrowed tools.

    Like 1

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