Road-Ready! 1978 Dodge Power Wagon W200 Crew Cab

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At one time, this yellow crew-cab wore a blue outfit and aimed high in the United States Air Force. Now, after a stint in the Forest Service, it can be yours to drive away from this eBay auction in Santa Clara, Utah. Let’s look closer and see what’s up with it!


Anyone who served in the United States military or the U.S. Forest Service toward the end of the Cold War era will recognize these Dodge trucks as Air Police or flight line emergency trucks, 1-1/4 ton haulers, brush fire trucks, or just go-everywhere six-passenger runabouts. Even today, the Armed Forces use newer versions for some of those same jobs, but did you know that the Power Wagon moniker dates all the way back to 1945? I bet you know, then, that those early units were based largely on the Dodge/Fargo WC trucks from WWII! Yes, the venerable Power Wagon was produced, in one variant or another, from 1945 to 1981, succeeded by the Dodge Ram, and today there is a Power Wagon option package available on the Ram trucks. The originals came with three different engines during their time: A 230-ci, and later a 251-ci inline-six, and finally a 318 V8 were included. Specific to this truck, the crew cabs were most often produced for U.S. Government contracts or construction businesses. Nowadays, these earlier crew-cab units are in pretty high demand.

Let’s look at this particular one. It’s obviously a much brighter color than it began its life, and the seller says that it was a USAF truck prior to being painted and sent to the Forest Service and, later, Montana State Lands. We’re told that it is mechanically ready to rock, but the body will need some attending-to in various areas. We can see the original government data plates and see the Air Force dark blue paint, in the door jambs and peeking out from the edges of the yellow paint. The seller says that the 318, LoadFlite automatic transmission, NP203, Dana 44 and Dana 60 differentials and disc brakes are all in order. We can see that the interior has seen better days, but if you plan to use it for actual work, that might not be as big of a deal for you.

I don’t know about you, but I really like old military hardware. With fewer and fewer of these CUCV-type trucks left in the world, there’s growing dollar value and enthusiast market. Lucky for those enthusiasts, there’s a decent amount of aftermarket support and plenty of people who remember them when in-service. Having owned three different M1009 Blazers myself over the years, I have an appreciation for such trucks. I wish I had not sold the last one that I had, but when you’re out of work and running low on cash, some things become lower-priority in comparison.

Anyway, that’s what I think, what do you think? Let us know in the comments!

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  1. Ken Carney

    My future BIL would love this truck and would use it almost as
    is. Gotta say that the name Power Wagon dates back to ’41
    when the line was first conceived. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen these rigs in all those ’70s military films. Me,
    I’d redo the paint in Air Force blue, freshen the mechanicals,
    and work it through the week and cruise it at Oldtown on
    weekends. Just what I want!

    Like 6
  2. geomechs geomechsMember

    Lots of these around back in the day. Still, some gracing the freeways and country roads. They had a powertrain that wouldn’t quit except for the chain in the transfer case. Well, this one was better than the first three years. You can still get the chain for this unit but I’m not sure about the older one. The earlier versions didn’t last. I have to agree with Ken in that if it came my way it would be painted Air Force Blue. Run it bone stock and enjoy it…

    Like 3
  3. Ken Carney

    Right you are Geomechs! I think the only
    things I’d add would be a good stereo and A/C since I live in Florida. I’m coming
    into some money soon, so if the price is right, I might just pull the trigger. Might
    have to put steps on it so that my SIL and
    neice can get into it. Now THIS is the perfect family vehicle! Everything you need and nothing you don’t.

    Like 1
  4. Karl

    When I first looked at this truck my first thought was it had either a 360 or a 400 ci engine then I saw it was an ex military vehicle and 318 came to mind immediately. Sure makes me wonder what the gears are to make that little motor work in this rig?

    Like 1
    • geomechs geomechsMember

      I’m going to guess 4.10 ratios because that’s the way I saw most fleet/service vehicles come into the shop. Ideally a 3.73 is a good ratio for a 3/4 ton with an automatic. That’s the way my dad ordered his trucks and when I worked for GM that’s the way we brought in the trucks for stock. The only variant was when we had a customer who wanted a real stump-puller…

      Like 2
  5. Kevin Aurelio

    We had one of these in the last unit I served in while in the Air Force. It was painted desert camo. I rode in it one time and remember the ride being pretty good. Better than the deuce and a halfs we had anyway.

    Like 3
  6. Dan B.

    Dad bought a 1974 Dodge Crew Cab 4×4 shortbed from the USFS at auction for $1500 in the late 1970s. It needed a new front fender and driver’s door which he found at the junkyard and repainted to match the light “Forest Service” green. It was perfect beast-of-burden for our family of five. Front and rear benches. Bullet proof drivetrain (albeit rarely broke single digits in MPG even when towing the small utility trailer). We used it to restore our house, haul firewood, get to the off-the-grid family cabin (vacation = maintence and repairs), go camping, etc. Dad sold it in 1988 for $1450.

    Good times.

    Like 2
  7. Karl

    Geomechs my 50 Power Wagon that I am restoring has 4.89 diff gears, I will say the truck weighs over 6000 pounds and has a 98 up engine. Speed did not seem to be a priority back then?

    Like 2
    • geomechs geomechsMember

      If you’re running the stock engine and 16 inch wheels in your PW it’s going to be around 3500 rpm at 60 mph so you’ll probably keep it under 50. I might add that I’ve been in them at 50 and it seems like they’re flying at that. I find it kind of humorous when people think they can do 80.

      Like 2
  8. CFJ

    Saw many of these in AF Blue while in SAC in the early 1960s serving as alert vehicles to speed crews to the B-52s.

    Like 3
    • Russell GlantzAuthor

      Funny you should say that, “alert vehicles” was a term that was on the tip of my tongue while writing this, but it just got stuck. Thanks for the reminder!

      Like 0
  9. David G

    By ’78, most of these Air Force crew cab Power Wagons had the Dana 60 front axle. Kind of rare to see this one with a 44 up front. Starting in 1981 or ’82, they were all W350 (one ton) designated, which bumped the GVW up to 8,510 lbs. Same truck, just raised up to one ton status. Starting in 1980, the Dana 60 front axle was standard on these. Gears on these are 4.10 ratio. Great trucks. Had an ’85 W350 Air Force truck, still with original paint. Selling it was the worst mistake I have ever made. Hoping to buy another one sometime soon.

    Like 1
  10. Val

    The best way to own 1 of these trucks is cummin’s swap it and put a dana 60 front end and enjoy 17mpg plus with a diesel the value goes through the roof

    Like 1
    • David G

      Hi Val, Nice to see you on here. I still need one of these. Will get in touch with you soon.

      Like 1
  11. Frank DeYulia

    Pick a part in Sunland had these old USAF beaters quite often. I replaced my Ramcharger Dana 40 with one of these Dana 60 rear ends 20 yrs ago… still rolling!

    Like 0

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