The Short Bus: Dodge Postal Delivery Van

Dodge Postal Van

Update 10/21/14 – Reader Dennis has pointed out that this Postal Van has been relisted here on eBay, but this time it’s being offered by a different seller. The new seller doesn’t list its current location and they are reusing the previous seller’s photos and description. I would recommend being cautious with this one and I would highly recommend contacting them to get current photos. Special thanks to Dennis for the tip!

From 5/13/14 – Finding a car built in the 1950’s isn’t all the difficult, as they were heavy and well-built machines. Like most things built in the 1950’s, the vehicles built in this era were built to last. That being said, we don’t typically see ’50s work vehicles that have survived years of hard work and the effects of being left outdoors. This is likely because most tended to be so well built that they were used until they just couldn’t go anymore. It also didn’t help that most companies didn’t tend to keep them after they had been replaced. This 1950’s Dodge Postal Delivery Van was recently pulled from a barn in Montana and while it needs to be restored, it is in solid shape. Life as a work vehicle in Montana couldn’t have been easy, but somehow this one has survived and looks as cute as ever. Take a look at it here on eBay with a $4,500 BIN.

Dodge Postal Van Interior

This has to be one of the most cartoonish panel vans we have ever seen. Its short wheelbase, high belt line, and short nose make it look great. We can’t help but smile when we look at it, especially when we look at that grill. When we look at the inside though, some of that enthusiasm is lost. It has seen better days and looks as if it might have been home to a few chickens at some point. Thankfully, it appears that all the major components are still here and can hopefully be salvaged. We also noticed that someone added an extension out the back door, so it’s hard to say what it might have been used for in the past. Seeing as it was designed as a work vehicle there really isn’t much to the inside, so restoring it shouldn’t be extremely difficult.

Dodge Postal Vans Motor

The rear extension isn’t the only modification that was made to this van. A previous owner decided this van needed a V8, so they pulled the original motor and started installing this 318 in it. Sadly, they never finished the install and it has not been touched since. The current owner doesn’t know it’s condition or what is left to be done. We would plan on removing the motor and starting all over, but if it turns than perhaps it could be made to run. With a running V8, this would make for one fun Van and would certainly put a smile on just about every face.

Project Dodge Panel Van

We doubt there are many of these short wheel base Delivery Vans left and chances are you would never see another one on the road. It certainly isn’t for everyone, but it could be a fun project with unlimited potential. The smiles it would bring to our faces would easily be worth all the work. So if this were your van, what all would you do with it? Full restoration or would you go with something a little less than original?

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Comments

  1. rusty

    cool…..keep me notified

  2. jim s

    looks like one of the stars of the Cars movies. do not think i have seen one before. not a clue as what to do with it or where to get the body parts. nice find

    • rancho bella

      Spot on……exactly what I was thinking……….it is uncanny.

  3. Dolphin Member

    A face only a mother could love.

  4. Brian

    Painted up in bright pastels, this would make a cool ice cream truck!

  5. Moxman

    This van looks like a modern Sprinter, with the high roof and a 50s Dodge pickup; all smashed together. I think this would make a great restoration project. I could see making the body straight and putting in a fresh 340 or 360 Chrysler V8. The rear doors could pose a problem, as they would have to be fabricated…but…there are so many good sheet metal workers around that it shouldn’t be a problem. All it would take is time and money.

  6. paul

    Cool truck, never seen one, I would find a period correct 6 cyl & remake the back as it was , with it’s short wheelbase, narrow track & high center of gravity, I wouldn’t think I would want a large engine, keep it slow, nice cruiser, restore as new & stock you will never see another one..

    • Thomas Bean

      I was thinking straight six engine…………and…………there is a website dedicated to those who love that engine, and know how to get as much performance as possible from that reliable anachronism. How about…a Jap four banger with turbo? 300 hp?

  7. Jim-Bob

    The engine appears to be some early model, like a polysphere, not an LA 318. I’d pull it and put in a LA 318 or 360 since it would be narrower, lighter and easier to service (or an early Hemi, like a Dodge Red Ram! That would be expensive though. However, Toyota built a Red Ram clone for the Century that lasted through the 80’s, which could be an interesting alternative.). The rear doors (and possibly the door frame) would be a life long quest to find and likely won’t come cheap if you do. Still, the truck looks like it has very little rust on it and no real rot. The only scary part is the lack of a proper title as that could make it a very expensive parts truck if it can’t be fixed.

  8. will

    I think I would lose the hood. Add a couple of teeth and make Maters bride!

    • geomechs geomechs Member

      I was just thinking along the same lines, will. I was wondering if this truck was in CARS.

  9. geomechs geomechs Member

    That’s sure an attention-getter but I’ll just put the blinders on right now and stare straight ahead. I don’t need anymore distractions.

    Like 1
  10. Mark E

    I think it would look WAY more interesting with the original engine and original back doors…

    Like 1
  11. Edwin MacVaugh

    Really a Fageol. A Dodge panel truck of those years would be much larger with a wrap around windshield.

    • Don Andreina

      Good call. Apparently Fageol built them for the postal service base on Dodge front sheetmetal and chassis. There’s a pic elsewhere with ‘Dodge’ lettering on the nose of a split window baby like this. Very, very cute.

  12. RickyM

    Perfect for exporting to over here in England – rare and right hand drive !

  13. Charles

    I like it!

    Since the link says that the rear door opened like a minivan hatch, it might be easier to build a mould and craft a rear door out of fiberglass?

    This will make a cool little street rod. Install a Mopar crate small block, maybe a 727 trans, modern driveline and disc brakes. Install some modern sway bars and the little truck would not handle badly on the highway. Fix up the inside like an 80’s custom van, and have a cool weekend cruiser.

    • rusty

      Actually the rear had a roller door type of thing. Not a cylinder type but the sliding panel type where the panels slide along a chanel into the roof area..so not a hatch.

      The One that looks more original is various flat panels [probably look 10 to 12″ high] that roll into the roof area..

      a second I saw was a literal rollerdoor style afair with multiple panels say 3 or 4 ” wide that roll up into roof area…it had a glass window too

      so therefore making rear doors is easier than most think. as I had Aussie Goggomobil panelvans and they used a fibreglass roller system like this except the inovative Bill Buckle simply moulded a roller door like this over a few sheets of corregated iron to make the mould thus creating a semicurcular curving panel that simply slid along channels..harder to explain then to envisage.

      It would be easy to fabricate one using this method.

      I imagine the chanels are still there too.

      I have 2 Dodge Fargo panel vans I am about to sell due to my health and may be on the look out for a restored one to replace them but man the beauty of these postal shorty vans is its right hand drive whereas my coveted van [a Divco] is left drive..is it possible to buy a resto modernised version of one of these as yet …as it is more useful downunder being righthand drive…too bad the aussie dollar is down on the greenback now.

  14. Richard V

    Too bad vandals had a go at it.

  15. Charles

    It does look like the perfect girl-friend for Mater…

  16. Horse Radish

    Looks like there was some heavy shooting going on in that ‘barn in Montana’…..

    • rusty

      hee hee

      couldnt Dodge those bullets eh. …..Should have been a Fargo

  17. Graham

    Neat truck, but I take exception to your repetitive references to how “well built” and “built to last” vehicles from the 50’s were. In fact, they were built as cheaply and quickly as design and manufacturing constraints would permit during that period. Parts were only made to be rebuilt because that’s what the current design and manufacturing technologies required.

  18. erikj

    That’s funny, could. not DODGE the bullets. Boy I love the looks of this.I,m liking more these days,the unusual.

  19. DT

    This is a 1955-56 with a 1950 front sheet metal,they are slightly different,My friend had a 1956, and it came with a v8,I think the poly motor(wide block),I had a ’51,what a nice truck,flathead 6, 4 speed.I like things restored back to original.but this would look cool doing a wheel stand down the 1/4 mile.I dont think this had a push button trany,that thing out of reach is a gear selector(whats left of it).My boss had a 1956 panel truck,with the same shifter and an intercepter engine,it was a paddy wagon,black and white,and very fast.he let me borrow one weekend to go to Santa Cruz,his mistake

  20. Jimmy

    They were right hand drive to allow the postman to enter/exit onto the sidewalk- much safer and less wasted time. Ive seen Swedish postal vans that are the same. Why its not done in Britain, especially in the city I cant understand! I agree it looks like Mater, maybe his little brother.

    • rusty

      yessssssssssss righthand drive…lovely

      So many yankee imports here in Australia when the AU was much higher than the yankee$..why couldnt they had thought to import a few of these …I’d be right on one now…looked at a few left hand drive vans recently but the thought of a conversion here is just too expensive..

    • rusty

      whoops rewriting this as I submitted it originally with a mistyped email..and original entry should diaspear.

      yessssssssssss righthand drive…lovely

      So many yankee imports here in Australia when the AU was much higher than the yankee$..why couldnt they had thought to import a few of these …I’d be right on one now…looked at a few left hand drive vans recently but the thought of a conversion here is just too expensive..

      Read more at http://barnfinds.com/the-short-bus-dodge-postal-delivery-van/#G2ZJ2p7djF2Hk0mH.99

      • rusty

        strange it left a link I had not included…but I was right the first entry has disapeared

  21. Mike

    These were used in Maine when I was a child of about 8-9 years old. I remember the U.S. Post Office (as it was called then) delivery person would pull up to the residential mail boxes and put the mail directly into our mail box without ever having to leave his seat. He would have his mail all sorted into trays, and as needed, would place the trays within easy reach to his left on top of the engine cover. Sacks of additional mail and parcels were carried in the rear, reachable by simply turning around to retrieve them, or by using the roll-up rear door. They were painted dark blue along the lower half, and white on the top half, with a red strip along the border of the two colors.

  22. Barry Thomas

    Cute, cute, cute! Just when I thought that a Divco was the neatest looking old truck, along comes this cutie. Never seen one before. Surely there must be someone with “postal nostalgia” or who needs a home for a small block Chevy, who could give this little darling a good home?
    Barry Thomas’ “Wheel to Wheel” blog

  23. Keith

    I just tried a Google search using “Fageol postal delivery van” as the search term.
    Several of the results have good pictures. Worth a look, several questions are answered in the assorted results.

  24. TatraBill

    As someone who has owned a couple of early postal vans (Studebaker “Zip-Van” & Kaiser Jeep version) I am familiar with the specs the USPO required in their bid process, and yes, I can confirm the back door would be a roll-up door, as these trucks would be expected to back right up to a loading dock and be able to open the door to load. Specs also called for a 6 cylinder (this engine has to be a replacement) and automatic trans. The trans shifter is the basic Mopar 2 speed Powerflite lever shifter, used in 1955/56, replaced with push buttons in late 56 cars & most trucks. Probably used in postal vans to help meet the lowest bid price in the Federal bidding process.

    Specs also called for sliding doors to allow quick exit/entry, driver’s seat up high (like bar stool) to allow easy on/off. The vehicles also have 2 gas pedals, the normal gas/break pedals are up high to reach when seated, but the vehicle can be driven by pushing the side of your right foot against another horizontal gas pedal on the floor. But to stop the van, you have to raise your leg about 10 inches to stomp down on the brake pedal.

    There are very few trucks in the 50s I would like to own, I want this one!

    • rusty

      TatraBill

      get it..and keep us informed…

  25. TatraBill

    There is a big difference between “I want it” and “I got it”. If I bought every vehicle I really wanted, I would probably run out of room on my 26 acres, except the local county zoning Nazis would never let me keep them all. Yeah, I want it, but not gonna happen . . . sigh!

    As it is I just grabbed a Simplex Servi-Cycle OUT OF A BARN, picked it up on Wednesday. I still have the Auto Union SP1000 Bauer Coupe to pull out of an old quonset hut! And for you guys who’ve never seen one, it “sorta looks like” a 57 T-bird.

  26. Sybil Taylor

    http://steamwhistle.ca/ourbeer/chuckles.php

    Check out “Chuckles” our 1957 Doge Fargo Postal Van, restored and now working as a beer delivery truck. it’s a beauty!!!

    • Jeff

      Fabulous collection of vintage commercial vehicles at steamwhistle site. Recommend all BF’ers check it out.

  27. Chris H.

    I know the whole “pro-touring” thing is old hat, but I think this would be neat with a late model 5.7 hemi, some meaty wheels and tires, and the requisite suspension and braking mods.

  28. gary postlewaite

    I have the dodge postal van and am in progress of a complete frame off restoration. Motor is a 1955 dodge 301 poly, not a 318. This van is beyond cool. Always wanted a vw hippie van, so that is where this is headed.

    • Richard V

      Good news, Gary – good luck and I hope you keep us informed as to your progress!

    • gary postlewaite

      here it is

      Like 1
  29. chad

    Poney Express !
    rather confusing 4 me:
    Kent, OH
    or
    Okland, CA
    Twin Coach? or Fageol?

    Either stretch it
    or
    make a play car and shrink it even more? chop out the middle?
    that would B wild
    No lrg displacement engine needed no matter how reconfigured…

  30. gary postlewaite

    here is front view

    Like 1
    • Missy Edwards

      I realize this is an old thread but hoping one of you can help me. My daughter & son in law are restoring one of these & I am looking for any info that could possibly help them. Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thank you

      Like 3
      • Bob

        I have one in very original condition. Great reference if you need help.

        Like 2
      • Brandon Byrd

        Could you email photos of your van?

      • Brandon

        Hi Missy – Can you email photos of the van your daughter and son in law are restoring? My email is Brandon.Byrd@mac.com

  31. joel wigginton

    what is the general value of these panel trucks

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