Once upon a time, the Dodge Power Wagon was a unique vehicular creation – styled to look like a truck, yet small enough to still qualify as a bakkie – it was a utility vehicle in the true sense of the world. Now a company called Legacy Classic Trucks is bringing these awesome vehicles back to life.
Much like Maybach, the Power Wagon name has become little more than a badge that’s slapped on a vehicle to give it some added credibility. Since 2005, the Ram 2500 has been offered in a special ‘Power Wagon’ version that’s powered by a burly Hemi V8. Now, there’s no doubt that the Ram Power Wagon is a very cool bakkie… but it is definitely not a Power Wagon. No, the original Power Wagon was something very different. It was an old-school commercial vehicle (first built in 1948) that had one priority: utility. It was slow (top speed was around 65km/h) and very agricultural. It was designed purely to get the job done; the perfect all-round workhorse for the farm. There is something about the no-frills-no-fuss design of the Power Wagon that makes it pretty cool. What if you could transform an old Power Wagon into something that’s practical today? That’s exactly what Legacy Classic Trucks in Jackson Hole, Wyoming is doing. They take old Power Wagons and update them.
First, it gives every Power Wagon a brand-new engine. The most popular option is a 6.2-litre Chevrolet option (either an LS3 or an LSA), but purists who frown upon the notion of a classic Dodge powered by a Chevrolet mill can opt for a 6.7-litre Chrysler 408. If you prefer an oilburner, there’s a 3.9-litre Cummins turbodiesel. The rest of the drivetrain gets a thorough update, too. Every Power Wagon gets an automatic transmission, transfer case (with very serious 100:1 gear reduction), rear Dynatrac Pro 80 axle, front Dana 60 axle and ARB air-locking differentials. The Legacy Power Wagon rides on 17-inch rims shod with 37-inch mud-terrain tyres, but you can opt for even larger 40-inch tyres. At first glance, the cabin of the Power Wagon looks quite basic and original, but while Legacy has certainly tried to retain the simplicity of the original, the new interior is thoroughly modern. It has all those modern conveniences you’d expect, and has been given improved temperature and sound insulation.
Legacy’s creation is extremely expensive. Pricing starts at $185 000 (R2.4 million), although you’ll probably end up spending closer to $300 000 (R3.86 million) by the time you’re done speccing it. However, it blows just about everything else out of the water. Even the latest off-roader or performance bakkie looks a little humdrum next to the Power Wagon.
Legacy power wagon
Manufacturer Legacy Classic Trucks (based on Dodge Power Wagon)
Engine 6.2-litre Chevrolet LS3
Transmission Four-speed automatic
Top speed Around 170km/h
Text: GG van Rooyen