Unrestored 4X4: 1951 Dodge Power Wagon

The older Dodge Power Wagons like this one are some of the toughest-looking trucks ever produced. This particular one seems to have only a few drawbacks and has been listed for sale here on craigslist. It’s located in Newcastle, Wyoming, and has a pretty steep asking price: $45,000. Thanks to Barn Finds reader T.J. for sending in this great truck! Let’s look a little closer and see why that price may not be so bad after all!

To begin, let’s refresh your memories on what’s unusual about Power Wagons in general. As the first regularly available large four-wheel-drive consumer pickup in the US, the Power Wagon towered above it’s competition but was familiar to veterans returning from World War II as it was based on Dodge’s WC military trucks. They have an outstanding reputation for being tough, not just tough-looking, and have quite a following today, with national conventions and many specialty sites on the web.

One of the few areas where originality may let you down on this truck is the wooden bed. Obviously, it needs a little help. I did find a new oak bed kit for $800 online, so if you think the truck is worth the asking price, that shouldn’t be too much of a detriment. Other than the bed, the truck looks to be in outstanding unrestored condition; not mint by any means, but looking as a work truck should–used but not abused! The ad also states that the truck is rust-free. As veterans of the hobby know, that term means different things to different people. However, there’s nothing in any of the ad pictures to make me doubt that there isn’t any perforation rust, at least.

Again, used, not abused. The odometer is showing 38,517 miles; I have no idea whether it’s been around zero, once, or twice, but the relative lack of wear on what I believe to be the original floor covering supports the possibility of it being zero. I would like to know more about the history of this working-class truck; it would be highly unusual for it to have that low a mileage. The folks selling the truck know Power Wagons, though, it might be worth giving them a call if you want to know more.

Things look pretty good under here as well. The truck is said to start and run great. Presumably, this is the original 230 cubic-inch flathead six engine, known for its longevity and low-end grunt although rated at only 102 horsepower. The carb appears to have either been rebuilt or replaced recently as it’s pretty darn shiny. I’m struggling with the price here, and checking out some valuation sites hasn’t helped my unease, but perhaps I’m out of touch with the market? And I can easily see this being the type of vehicle one could fall instantly in love with and then logic goes out the window. What do you think, readers?


  1. Bluetec320 Bluetec320 Member

    Forty-Five Thousand Dollars for a so-so nice Power Wagon! Oh my gosh!

    Like 9
  2. RGSmith1 Member

    Anxiously awaiting Howard’s comments on this one! 😀

    Like 2
  3. geomechs geomechs Member

    There were a lot of these out west and still are, for that matter. A lot of ranchers used them and there were a lot roaming the oil company leases. Not too fast and rough enough to make you wonder if you shouldn’t be wearing a helmet. Just a 4-speed crashbox between the engine and transfer case. It seems to me that the latest versions of this used a 251 engine. That would be welcome in one of these because they were never much for get up and go. There is an outfit that does a decent job with resto-mods on these. They put a 4BTA-3.9 Cummins (some might even be running a six but I don’t know where you would put one in that engine bay) in them and they seem to go quite well. If I was to get one I sure wouldn’t turn this down, however, this one is way out of my budget, even if I won the Powerball. I just wish the vendor luck; there’s always someone who wants one (maybe even three) super bad…

    Like 9
    • Malcontented Misanthrope

      My dad used Power Wagons all over Wyoming fields in the 50’s. I think even the gins were PW’s

      Like 2
  4. Todd J. Member

    I always thought these were “cool” trucks and that I would own one someday until I had the opportunity to drive one back in the summer of ‘69 – yikes! Great for what it’s designed for but not a good daily driver candidate.

    Like 9
  5. Nevadahalfrack Nevadahalfrack Member

    What a great truck for the price. I’m with you, geomechs, it’d take a Powerball hit to make it more user-friendly by todays standards (and the Cummins 4 pot conversion would be perfect for keeping the sheet metal intact!).
    But if you just need an old fashioned heavy duty work truck this would hit the ticket IMO-load that bed full and it’ll ride like a…well, maybe not a Cadillac but a lot better than empty..no worries about shopping cart rash or door dings either!!!

    Like 4
  6. Michael Ferrino Jr.

    I’m from Folsom, South Jersey. I remember well in the mid sixties theses trucks. The Forestry Service had then. And set up with the Brush Bars ect. We see them in the woods all the time. At me being 12 years old. I was very impressed the way it was demonstrated to us. Right thru Underbrush and pushing over small trees. I can still hear that Low End Power just thinking about it.

    Like 3
  7. GOM

    This is the perfect post magnetic pulse vehicle. As manufactured, zero electronic/solid-state components to fail. No diodes, no rectifier bridge, no hall effect switches, no ignition modules. Just stuff you can fix far away from home base with a few rudimentary tools, some ordinary supplies, and some spare parts like a set of points, a condenser, an ignition coil, some rubber fuel line, etc. I understand that there are still some users that have these rebuilt for fence/power line patrol purposes for locations where a breakdown might be a life threatening situation. Also, desirable for Neanderthals like me who like fixable things not requiring a diagnostic computer and an uplink!

    Like 8
  8. Lance

    As high priced as these are , I’d take one over a 21 or 23 window VW bus. Sorry.

    Like 8
  9. Bob the ICEMAN

    Remember the Buick aluminum 215 cu.inch. V8 that was in the Wildcat back in the 1960’s. That mill mated to a wi$e selection of GM transmissions is a marriage made in heaven, or you can machine an adapter plate to the existing Power Wagon drive train. Lighter weight more power and easy on gas.

    • Rick

      The 215 V8 was offered in the Special and Skylark, but never in the bigger cars like the Wildcat.

      Like 2
  10. sourpwr Member

    No winch? I’m out!

    Like 1
  11. Jim Muise

    When I was in the Canadian army in the early 1960 s we used the military version of this truck daily to pull troops and a 5 ton 6 inch howitzer around the base and out on training exercises! They were slow but very reliable and always got the job done!


    Like 4
    • geomechs geomechs Member

      Was it like an M-37?

      Like 2
      • Johnny

        Hey,Geomech, I drove a gun truck(The Tennessee Highway Patrol) like that in Viet Nam back in 71-72) It would go right on the beach with getting hung up. It had steel around the back and had 2-60,s mounted on it. The front fenders had a real thick like fiberglass material. Only time it let us down. Was one night I let a fng drive it. He never got through the gears and pulled the gear shift out of the transmission. Took me all night to get it fixed. I never let him drive after that. I started to buy one last year. Until I looked up and checked on the parts for these truck–sky high–and I forgot about it quick.

        Like 2
      • geomechs geomechs Member

        I enjoy the FNG’s; they watch one of us FOG’s go through the shift pattern without hardly clicking a gear, then they get behind the wheel and try to grind everything to powder while trying to figure out how we did it so easily…

        Like 1
  12. Bill McCoskey Bill McCoskey Member

    Many years ago, one of my major clients for vintage vehicles, who lived in the middle east [in a USA-friendly country], faxed me a message asking me to find him another Power Wagon. My client was incredibly wealthy, and only wanted the best.

    So I attended the Power Wagon club’s national meet. I approached the owners of the Power Wagon that had just won 1st place at the meet. Asked them if it was for sale [No]. Offered them a VERY large price. The wife asked the price again, and on hearing the amount again, she said “Sold!”.

    Made arrangements for it’s enclosed shipping back to Maryland. A friend of mine with the Washington Times newspaper wanted to do a story on it, and I said OK as long as the identity of the new owner was not disclosed. So a big story about the Power Wagon appeared in the Washington Times, just before it was loaded into a container and shipped half-way around the world.

    I’m told the Power Wagon was given “Pride-of-place” in his very private collection of about 900 vehicles, and like all his other cars and trucks, it was fitted with a hand-made, fleece-lined, protective cover.

    Like 5
    • trav66

      Bill, I was curious and “googled” “Washington Times Power Wagon” to peruse your story but nothing came up, must have been an older story (?). This truck is a very nice survivor and a new stained wooden bed would look great. Somebody, somewhere will wind up buying this.

    • trav66

      I meant to type “your friend’s story”, WHOOPS!

  13. trav66

    I forgot to add that this truck is the very definition of “work-horse”!

    Like 1
  14. Bill McCoskey Bill McCoskey Member


    It would have been around 1991. the writer was Vern Parker, he authored a column “Out of the Past” every Friday in the Wash Times, and the Power Wagon got front page of section C, with a photo of me in the truck.

    I just googled the “Washington Times, out of the past”, and got nothing for the 2 cars of mine he did stories on. I’m afraid the Times didn’t think the column was worth archiving. Vern has a website you might check: vernparker.com.

    Vern came out to my place in the early summer of 1991 and did a story on my 1961 Vanden Plas Princess limousine that had been owned by the British Government, and was shipped to New York when new, to be used by the Royal Family when in the USA. As I recall, I told Vern about having just bought the Power Wagon, and he decided to do a story on it’s arrival. The photographer came out to shoot the Power Wagon, and he kindly sent me a set of the photos, all 8×10 B/W glossies. I still have them, along with a framed copy of the article, somewhere in my storage warehouse.

    Like 3
    • trav66

      I visited his website and he has some great articles! Very informative, easy to read and good stories. Thanks for replying. I bookmarked his site.

      Like 2

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