One Tough Truck: 1963 Dodge M37 Power Wagon

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Here’s a nice project: a 1963 Dodge M37 Power Wagon. This tough truck is located in Palm Desert, California and is on craigslist with an asking price of $4,900. About 115,000 of these trucks were made from 1951 through 1968, this one looks like it would be a great project.

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The M37 Power Wagon is a 3/4 ton 4×4 and this particular truck looks like it wouldn’t take a ton of time to get it rolling again. The seller says that this is a “desert find”, although it looks more white than desert tan to me from the photos. Speaking of white, this has the optional “Arctic hard-top”, which according to the seller unbolts with ease. I could see GI Joe in his Antarctica gear on driving this thing, or maybe Race Bannon. There are some fun articles here that show some things that you can do with this truck to keep it in fine condition once you get it back on the road again. There’s even a little storage compartment behind the passenger door for your tools.

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This M37 looks like it’s in nice shape, considering what some others on the market are like. The seller says that the body is in “xlnt condition. . rust issues.” It will need new tires and work on the brakes.

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Here is the modern, luxurious interior that you would expect to see in this truck! It’s all business here, no cup holders, no “AC needs charged”, no nothing but rugged utility. You can get this looking good again, or just make sure the mechanical bits are working great and drive it as it looks. People won’t give you door dings in this truck, they’ll make sure to park as far away from you as possible, which is a very good thing. This is probably what Chuck Norris drives.

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This workhorse would have had an L-head 6-cylinder with 78 hp originally, but it’s been swapped out for a “1970’s Dodge 318” that is currently in non-operational status. It does turn over, and over, and over; but doesn’t seem to want to start for some reason. You can get it going again. Just think of all the things you’ll be able to do once you get this baby on the road again! What do you think of this truck, is it tough enough for you?

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  1. Justin

    My neighbor has one if these for sale and apparently it’s really hard to kill the engine but it doesn’t have much in horse power but a lot in tourqe.

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  2. JW

    I don’t know much about military vehicles but I sure would love to have this if it were closer to me. Great Find !!!

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  3. George

    Excellent stump puller, if you’re clearing pasture. There is still one pulling farm/ranch duty 40 miles west of me.

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  4. Matt Tritt

    Another flipper! Interesting engine swap, but I hope nobody’s actually put it in 4-wheel drive with those mis-matched tires! These trucks, like every 4-wheel drive built before the advent of the limited-slip center differential, absolutely must have all 4 tires the same outside diameter. If not, the transfer case is easily damaged from the spin difference. (The original tires are MUCH larger than these tiny SUV tires, so this truck would have a very low top-end now) Also, why isn’t the spare carrier not included? How do you carry the spare (missing) without it? Why-oh-why do so many ads for vehicles sound like they’ve been written by the same guy these days?

    Like 1
  5. Bill

    Obvious choice: Ray and Irwin’s Garage…

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    • Scotty GAuthor

      HA, that is excellent, Bill! Best movie ever!

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  6. Ed P

    Now this is a bare bones truck! Everything you need to go somewhere is there and nothing else. Nice find.

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  7. Mark S

    The way I see it this truck would be a good candidate for a cumins diesel, 5 speed trans and transfer case out of a donor truck. I’d also change the axle ratios up to 3.50’s I think that a repaint in desert tan would look good here as well. Finally it needs a fresh set of the correct size tires. Now that would be an all business off road work horse beast of a truck. Oh as for the spare tire the seller could keep his tire carrier, I’d fab up an over cab one with a built in light bar.

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    • Matt Tritt

      Having driven these quite a lot from 65 through 67, I can definitely say that, if you mount the correct spare wheels and tire on the roof, you’ll need a crane to get in on and off. The combined weight is somewhere in the neighborhood of 175 lbs. And as long as you’re repowering it with a Cummins, stick and auto trans on the back of it and save your knees from banging into the bottom of the dashboard! These truck were (and still are) miserable to drive because of the turning radius, the tendency to whip the wheel out of your hands when traversing rocky ground and the awkward pedal placement. Oh yeah; the brakes are virtually useless after fording too, especially if you lose vacuum. A Unimog of the same vintage is 10X the truck as I witnessed several times in the field, even if they are a bugger to get in and out of.

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      • Mark S

        Hi Matt I’m a welder fabricator the rack that I would build would do the work of raising an lowering the the spare for you.Building industrial machinery is my specialty. I under stand your concerns about weight but that can be overcome, as can seating and peddle position, however I do agree that an auto trans might be the way to go as well as a power steering box.

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    • Jay

      I totally agree with Mark S. A modern powertrain is needed here.
      My only concern would be what gear ratio is in those diffs. Oversize tires would help, and a Cummins with a 6 speed would be fun.
      Anyone know what the curb weight of these trucks was?

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  8. John K

    Wow, I like this. I’m not a truck guy, but every now and then one punches all the right buttons for me.

    What is the bar for on the driver’s door?

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    • JW

      Spare Tire.

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      • John K

        thank you

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  9. John H. in CT

    This is one truck where the civilian version has it all over the military version. That boxy cab just isn’t very pkeasing to the eye.

    Another military version with a diesel ans good paintrecently on Hemmings for around $12K. IMO a much better deal.

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    • Mano

      Stock gear ratio:5.83:1, 4.89:1 is your only other option in the stock diff’s. Curb weight is about 5600 lbs depending on if you have a winch or not and that arctic top was only available on the Canadian trucks, American trucks were all soft tops made of canvas.

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  10. John

    It’s not a M-37 power wagon…it is a M-37…the power wagon is the civilian version of this truck…it was the first 4 wheel drive vehicle sold to the public.
    it looks a little bit different…

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  11. Tom E Rauch

    Hello Is the VIN# the same as the stock # on the plate on the dash ?

    Like 0

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