After the war, the former soldiers, sought out Dodge trucks for their ruggedness and nearly unbreakable build quality. The company was swamped with requests for the wartime “carryalls” (they had built 226,776 of them). Dodge’s toughness was its main feature; four wheel drive and high capacity was a bonus.Dodge built many four-wheel-drive trucks for the Army starting in 1934, with one-ton, half-ton, and three-quarter-ton capacities, a variety of wheelbases, and open and closed body styles.
Dodge worked quickly to adapt their military trucks to civilian versions, through “parts room engineering.” Dodge engineers seem to have spent as much time seeing what would fit (or could be adapted) as they did at the drawing board. Each component evolved from existing parts.
The earliest reference to the Power Wagon was a wartime ad in Collier’s, referring to Dodge’s “Battle Wagon;” it looked similar to the Power Wagon, but had some major differences. A much closer relative of the Power Wagon was in a Chrysler factory photo dated July 3, 1945; there were no nameplates on the prototype, so the name may not have been selected yet. However, it is the Power Wagon, without any doubt.
Dodge finally told the automotive press that the new truck was to be called the “Farm Utility Truck.” Then, on January 2, 1946, Automotive Industries announced that Dodge had introduced the “WDX General Purpose Truck.” [The official Chrysler history claims it was unveiled in 1945.]
Soon after, Dodge wrote that the new truck was to be the General Purpose, One Ton Truck; finally, when sales began in March 1946, with the sales floors being swamped by customers seeking the rugged wartime Dodge, the name had been finalized as Power Wagon.
Despite changing model designations, it was a one-ton truck through its whole life; the first year saw a 230 cubic-inch flathead six engine, four-speed manual transmission, and 8 ply tires on 16×6-inch five-stud wheels. The gross weight rating (GVWR) was 8,700 pounds and the payload was 3,000 pounds.