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Small Block Swap: 1962 Dodge M37

What is it about old military vehicles? They seem to have a loyal following, but at the same time, they can be found for not much cash pretty much anywhere they’re listed. This is barring, of course, a pristine restored example, but most of the ones we see for sale are in exactly the same shape as this 1962 Dodge M37 short-bed pickup. Now, the one thing this example has going for it that many others don’t is the Chevy small block under the hood, which will certainly help it to move out far faster than the original military-grade engine ever could. Check out the Dodge here on craigslist in Macon, Georgia for $4,800, and thanks to Barn Finds reader Richard R. for the find. 

There’s a gentleman in the town of Blue Ridge, Georgia, who operates a business called Tank Town USA, and he has a whole fleet of these trucks on his property. There’s one I checked out last time I was visiting that was clearly a municipally-owned rig of some kind in a previous life, and it reminded me that not all of these were lifetime military vehicles. Of course, almost all of the trucks now in private hands began life as a military vehicle, so they were outfitted with all kinds of heavy-duty equipment, which has a lot to do with why these are so appealing to buy second- or third-hand. But, given their original intended use, speed wasn’t much of a concern so the engines and gearing are typically built for crawling, and not for daily driving.

The seller of this truck has at least addressed that issue with the small block swap. Not to mention you now have a drivetrain that you can service anywhere there’s a NAPA nearby, and it will likely get you closer to being able to handle everyday traffic situations. The patina is up to the next owner to keep or replace, but I personally think that’s one of the more appealing features of this truck. The seller claims it runs and drives but will need further work to be a dependable driver, but doesn’t specify what it might still need. It at least appears to have good tires and glass, and the winch on the front bumper is a desirable feature if it still works. The seller has previously dropped his price down from an original ask of $6,200, so this could be a window of opportunity for someone on the hunt for a genuine M37 with some of the heavy lifting done.

Comments

  1. mrgreenjeans

    I own a ’63 M37 B1 in pretty much all original condition. Rust free, dent free except a few small bruises, and with a totally rebuilt engine and brake system. All parts for these old Dodges may be sourced from NAPA as well, because the engine was used as far back as the 30s in cars, trucks, pickups, combines, industrial apps., etc. The beauty of the o.e. drivetrain is simplicity and durability. These were never intended to roll down the highway at 75 mph. Their desired use was low speed maneuvering. Over revving was not a strong suit; crawling in low gear with all 4 clawing near vertical inclines WAS the original intent, and they will do that all day long with near astonishing capability. The modern v/8 swap leaves nothing on the table I would desire

    Like 15
  2. BlondeUXB Member

    Always surprised when civilian models command many multiples of the dollars these bring. Seems to defy the expression: When the top goes down the price goes up.

  3. Rolls-Royce

    Good old pick-up!

  4. Steve Taylor

    But a Chevy engine?

    Like 3
  5. Mike T

    When I was in the Army as a Radio Teletype Operator, I was assigned HQ-47, a 1957 M-37 with a radio hut in the back and a trailer with a camo net, gas cans and a 24-volt generator. We also had tire chains. I found a pile of seals used on the governor and screwed it all the way down. I used to travel from Pinder Barracks to Grafenwoehr on the autobahn at 75 miles per hour. We were out on an alert once and the com-chief forgot about us and we spent in the field in late February. My buddy and I spent the night under the trailer in our sleeping bags to keep from freezing to death. When we woke up, it had snowed about 3 feet. I started the truck to warm us up and about that time the com-chief showed up in a M-151 (Ford MUTT) which replaced the Jeep. He was stuck behind us so I ended up using our tire chains and hooked him up behind my trailer and pulled all of us out through that 3-foot snow. That was the most reliable vehicle I ever drove.

    Like 5
  6. BR

    No engine pics? I’ll bet it looks horrible under that hood.

    Like 2
  7. Richard Joseph Martin Member

    Would probably be better with a MOPAR 340-4bbl. under hood.

    Like 3
  8. Karl

    I have owned a few M37s pretty bullet proof old pickups they were rated at 3/4 ton and the engine is a 231 ci L head dodge, this engine was used in everything from aircraft tugs to combines and everything in between. I am not sure where I see having a SB V8 in this pickup would be any advantage at all? Speed I have never seen ANY M37 hit even get close 60 mph in stock form and even though this one has the SB chevy in it whats that going to do when you still using 4.89 gear ratio ring and pinion. The original 6 was built for torque and top RPM of 3600 made the pickup top out at just over 55 mph and every gear in it was screaming! Great pickups, watch for rust this one has a winch make sure all the PTO stuff and linkage is there along with the winch drive shaft. They are easy to work on in every way although packing the front hubs the first time can be a little scary.

    Like 1

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