Bringing Back the Glory Days: Dodge Revives an American Icon, The Power Wagon


It’s clear to see that we are living in the modern age of muscle car glory days. Over the last decade automakers have revived classic names such as the Charger, Challenger, and Camaro in order to reignite the muscle cars wars of the late ’60s. For years the modern throwback muscle cars have been stealing the spotlight. With the combination of modern luxury an old school hardcore performance it is no wonder these cars are are such a success. Just as Mopar is once again reuniting the Scat Pack, it seems that we should highlight Dodge’s “throwback” vehicle that has more heritage than all the rest, the Dodge Power Wagon.

While Dodge Darts and Chargers have been around for around 50 years now, the Power Wagon has roots tying back assembly lines and war zones in the mid 1940’s. The Dodge Power Wagon invented the idea of a civilian 4×4 vehicle that could be used to buy feed and groceries on Saturdays and haul tractors out of soggy fields on Monday.

Variants of the Power Wagon have been made from the 1940’s of until the early 70’s, with some of the more recognizable versions being the W100 series, civilian models based on the military M-series trucks. That early M-series military trucks such as the M37 have lately become popular, likely due to Mel Wade and Off-Road Evolution’s Ultimate Adventure M37 truck.

With such a rich legacy, we were a little nervous in 2005 when Dodge began production on the latest interpretation of the Power Wagon. The Power Wagon was released as a member of the Ram lineup and to the untrained eye looked a lot like a standard 3/4-ton Ram pickup with some decals, but fortunately Dodge had big plans for the new Power Wagon. The truck was released with the biggest motor available in the 2005 lineup; the 5.7 Hemi as standard equipment.

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Mel Wade demonstrates the rugged durability of Off-Road Evolution’s Ultimate Adventure M37 truck.

But the real heart of what made the Ram Power Wagon special was the selectable locking differentials in both the front and rear axles, remote disconnecting sway bars, and improved suspension over a standard truck. This package made for the most off road capable full sized truck to ever roll off an assembly line for civilian purchase. Essentially a Jeep Rubicon in a grown up, beefed up, full sized truck platform.

Today, as 2015 models are available the Dodge Ram Power Wagon is even more impressive than it was almost 10 years ago. Now standard in the Power Wagon is the monstrous 410-horsepower 6.4-liter Hemi, with radius-style long arm suspension up front and a coil-sprung 5-link suspension in the rear. Locking differentials are still the trophy piece of the Power Wagon but for the latest model year the truck received a beefier AAM 11.5 rear end to better handle the added horsepower and payload capabilities.

Nearly 70 years ago the Dodge Power Wagon created a market for rugged 4×4 vehicles that could be owned and operated daily, by the public. Today the latest adaptation of the Power Wagon still is in a league of its own. The Ram Power Wagon is reviving the glory days by being owning the marketplace as the only truly rugged truck both on and off road, just as its ancestors did decades before.

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Kyle Cunliffe

Off-Road/Truck Editor Growing up in Southern California many would expect Kyle to spend his days looking for the next gnarly wave to catch. Luckily waves don't have a throttle or steering wheel so his attention was devoted elsewhere. Kyle can nearly always be found looking for a way to go faster, or get over an obstacle just a little bigger than the last. Because he wasn't a trust fund baby he has spend years working on his own vehicles to keep the excitement going.

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