1945 Dodge Pickup
Dodge getting back to civilian pickup production after WWII.by Mark McNabb, on LISTEN 08:01
It was in 1939 that Dodge debuted a new design for its pickup truck. A marketing campaign accompanied the truck called “Job Rated,” which helped owners choose the right Dodge pickup for the job. Several versions were offered, including half-ton, three-quarter ton, and one-ton versions, with different engine and wheelbase choices intermingled within.
Things were going well for Dodge when World War II broke out. Like nearly every other private business in 1942, Dodge began making wartime equipment. In its case, the Power Wagon was its shining star. However, Dodge promptly restarted production of civilian trucks a mere two hours after the last military truck rolled off the line in 1945.
It was in 1946 that Dodge built this particular pickup – a half-ton class with an inline six-cylinder engine and four-speed manual transmission, all coated in dark blue with chrome bumpers. It also comes fitted with the Deluxe cab package, which brought more comfortable seats, a driver side armrest and sun visor, dual electric windshield wipers, and chrome trim around the windshield.
The post-war pickups did receive minor updates thanks to enhancements made in wartime production. The chassis and clutch houses were made stronger, and a higher capacity radiator was introduced. All this made the Job Rated Dodge pickup a hardy competitor to other domestic pickups in the post-war boom.
The example seen here recently went under the gavel at the 2016 Mecum car auction at Monterey. It sold for an undisclosed amount, but Mecum’s pre-auction estimate put the price between $50,000 and $60,000.
Continue reading for the full review.
This beauty epitomizes post-war beauty. Its factory-matched dark blue paint makes the yards of chrome really pop, as the whitewall tires, and stained bed stakes. The truck underwent a full body-off restoration in 1997 and has since driven only 5,000 miles. Despite the restoration being 20 years old, the truck is in spectacular condition. The paint still looks fresh and the chrome as bright as ever. Accenting the truck’s chrome are red-painted inserts that make the Dodge logo stand out. The red paint continues on to the hood ornament.
Its factory-matched dark blue paint makes the yards of chrome really pop, as the whitewall tires, and stained bed stakes.
The truck’s hood design allows easy access to the engine compartment. The gullwing-style doors prop open, revealing the side of the engine bay on both sides. This, along with the simplicity of the engine’s design, made it simple for shade tree mechanics to keep these old trucks running for decades.
The truck rides on original-style whitewall tires wrapping steel wheels with bright chrome hub cabs. The Dodge logo, again seen in red, gives life to the hub cabs’ dome shape. Between the swooping fenders lies a running board that makes for easy access to the cab and cargo bed.
Around back, the bed features beautifully stained oak wood stakes and flooring. A manually folding tailgate is held in place with chains and hooks. The tailgate even proudly displays the Dodge name in white block lettering. This truck also features the optional right-side taillight with brakes lights and turn signals.
It might be spartan compared to modern-day pickups, but this Dodge was high-class for a pickup in 1946. it boasts the optional Deluxe cab package, which adds the more comfortable bench seat, the driver’s door armrest and sun visor, dual electric windshield wipers, and chrome trim around the windshield. And speaking of the windshield, all Dodge pickups from this time feature a crank-open windshield that allows air into the cab. It might not be an equal substitute for air conditioning in hotter climates, but it gave a great breeze at moderate speeds.
The driver gets a simple cluster of gauges showing speed, coolant temperature, oil pressure, amperage, and fuel level. Knobs to the right of the steering column control other functions like the wipers and manual choke.
Power comes from Dodge’s tried and true L-Head inline six-cylinder. Displacing 218 cubic inches, the flathead six produced various levels of output through the years, but this 1946 version is said to make 95 horsepower and 172 pound-feet of torque. Its single barrel carburetor was topped with an oil-style air cleaner. This particular truck also has a cab heater, as evidenced by the hoses heated into the passenger side of the firewall.
The engine is paired with a four-speed manual transmission that sends power to the rear wheels.
The 1946 Dodge pickup cost its original owner somewhere around $925. While laughably inexpensive today, $900 went a long way further in the 1940s. What’s more, prices for pickups rose over pre-war truck prices.
Today, a clean example like this one can go for good money. Mecum estimated this truck would sell for between $50,000 and $60,000 at auction.
The Chevrolet Task Force pickup was a strong competitor for the Dodge. It came with a strikingly handsome design, a strong frame, and a powerful engine. The truck featured several design cues that made it unique, including the optional wraparound rear glass, power steering, power brakes, and a 12-volt electrical systems on Deluxe Cab models.
Power came from three engine choices, but the 235 cubic-inch inline six-cylinder is the most comparable. It produced roughly 140 horsepower and 210 pound-feet of torque. That’s more than the Dodge, but the Chevy is a later model with more post-war development time.
Read more about the 1950 Chevrolet 3100 here.
The F47 is a Canadian-built version of the U.S.-spec F1 pickup, but both were nearly identical. Also a part of the Mecum Monterey car auction, this example is a beautifully restored model with all the right parts.
It comes with a 226 cubic-inch flathead V-8 making 95 horsepower. Ford also offered 4WD as an option through the Indiana-based Marmon-Herrington company. Though a few years after 1946, this Ford pickup would have sold for roughly $1,100 in 1950. Today, it’s valued between $55,000 and $65,000.
Find out more about the 1950 Ford F47 pickup here.
This 1946 Dodge pickup is a wonderfully restored example that comes with a shop manual, parts list manual, and other miscellaneous books. It’s also been a part of the Concours d’Elegance in the summer of 2015, making it a truck with a rich history.
Holistically, it’s amazing to see how Dodge catapulted itself back into civilian pickup production after WWII ended. The automaker surely new U.S. soldiers were returning home with money in their pockets looking to start businesses. With the economy booming that the Great Depression was over, Dodge undoubtedly did well, though Chevy and Ford still outsold it.