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Barn Find Hunter uncovers a cadre of Dodge Power Wagons

Missing out is part of the game when it comes to hunting barn finds; Tom Cotter knows this better than most. He follows a solid lead in Bozeman, Montana, and arrives at the resting place of a long-stored GT350 only to find that the owner is out of town, and he can’t see the car. What does he do? He keeps hunting.


This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://www.hagerty.com/articles-videos/articles/2019/11/06/barn-find-hunter-uncovers-a-cadre-of-dodge-power-wagons

I drove a Power Wagon on my summer job working for a fence company, building fence along new interstates. I recall it being a '55 model, but don’t remember for sure. Had a hinged windshield. Could barely make 50 mph on the highway while driving to the job site. It was a blast to drive!

One day, while setting fence posts along a new section of road, we were faced with getting the concrete from the mixer truck to the post holes, but the ditch along the road made it impossible to get the mixer truck near them. The choice was to carry the concrete in buckets down the hill, across the ditch, and up the other side to the fence line. The boss believed he could make it across the ditch and up the hill in the Power Wagon, so he filled the bed with concrete and promptly got the PW stuck fast in the ditch. After about 15 minutes, with concrete curing in the bed of the PW, by a stroke of luck a Caterpillar road grader happened by and managed to pull the PW out. We spent the rest of the afternoon bucketing concrete up the hill.

The ancestor of the Dodge PowerWagon is a military vehicle. It’s my understanding that the series of Power Wagons began after WWII but came from the WC series used during the war. I have a 3/4 ton WC54, which is an ambulance/ MASH truck. They were so reliable and tough that mine, which is a 1942 would have been used in WWII, the Korean Conflict (as seen in the tv series MASH) and the beginning of the Vietnam war. Oh yes, and they’re fun to drive and you can count on them (at least mine) to go anywhere and get out okay. (haven’t tried hauling concrete, though.) I love mine!

I was in the PA. National Guard 28th Signal Battalion from 1962 to 1968. We used these power wagons to go to AP Hill, Va. for two week summer camp. Our National Guard building was in New Brighton, but the Power Wagons were stored at the Coraopolis Headquarters. They would sit there all long year and when it was time for summer camp, we had to get them running and road worthy. It was quite a task. Being the Motor Sargent, my task was to get them down and back safely. If they broke down, it was usually a problem with the distributor. We brought up the rear, so when we arrived, we knew they all made it there. It was always a great adventure.
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I believe there is a company in the NW that restores these Power Wagons and puts in a later model diesel. They get big bucks as I recall.

I wanted to hear the story of that green early bay Westfalia tucked away in his garage.

I have always been a big fan of flat fender Power Wagon for the sheer brute look. But, driving one is such a disappointment. Imagine a Dodge diesel powertrain to upgrade on to useable configuration.

Too bad you didn’t check out the bay window VW pop top camper in the back of the garage behind the Shelby 350. I had a '70 back in the day that I used to camp across the USA!

My first experience driving at age 10 was steering my Dad’s 1946 Power Wagon in a ditch so he could spool telephone wire off the bed…he built a steel boom off the back so he could drill holes and set new telephone poles…the old '46 had a tough life but never let us down…with tire chains on all 4 corners it could plow through deep snow (in low range) for many miles…Dad sold the '46 and ordered a new 1963 Power Wagon from the local Dodge dealer…he had it factory painted '59 Ford truck blue to match his pickup…the '63 was a vast improvement over the '46 but it still was slow and difficult to shift the 4 speed transmission quickly…I still own that '63 PW…it still sits on the original NDT factory tires and has an amazing 3500 actual miles…every time I sit in our PW it reminds me how much my father taught me about life, honesty and taking care of equipment…