How many seasons has it rested here, the prairie wind sharp and whistling because nothing stands in its way except the battered sides of this old Dodge pickup? When did its owner finally walk away without a final glance? What did it haul? Where did it go? What human activities took place in its 6.5-foot bed?
Oh, if rust could talk. It might tell you who shaved inches off windshield posts to create a lowered stance – perhaps long before this was an accepted practice for hot-rodded trucks. But this 1946 Dodge truck keeps its secrets. After all, rust is silent.
A little history on the Dodge truck: The Dodge brothers, John and Horace, struck out on their own after working for Oldsmobile and Ford. Their first car debuted in 1914. The public liked it; before long, ponderous Dodge sedans were routine sights on the nation’s few roads. A world war came along not long after, and the brothers built their first truck, a panel van. It relied on 35 hp to bounce over the muddied, body-filled plains of France. In 1929, with the nation flat on its ass in a depression, Dodge introduced its first pickup. Under its hood was a flathead 6 – two cylinders more than the giant of that era, the Ford Model A. Dodge would go on to use that engine, with various modifications, until 1960.
In 1939, Dodge rolled out a pickup that looked a lot like this one. Its distinguishing feature was bug-eyed headlights; the truck looked perpetually surprised, as if stunned to meet you on the roadway. This design would remain until 1948, several years after Chevy and Ford made style changes to reflect shifting tastes in trucks.
Stodgy? Perhaps. Dodge held on to design and engineering elements longer than its competitors, and that may be the reason why you see a lot more Chevys and Fords from that era. But there is no denying that this machine has a particular grace – even now, stopping the prairie winds that bowl over Crawford, Neb., 1,420 miles northwest of Atlanta. (Photos by Senior Junkyard Correspondent Harold “Tex” Colson)