POWER-WAR POWER WAGON
VINTAGE 1947 SHEETMETAL SURVIVES TO CRAWL
Vintage 1947 sheetmetal survives to crawl.
AARON AND NATALIE PENNELL have built a few unique offroad rigs in the past, so it’s no surprise that they have once again put together a truck that turns heads. This time they stepped up the challenge level by starting with a donor that was seven decades old.
This 1947 WDX Power Wagon was used by an oil rigging company long ago. As you’d expect, the old work truck got pretty beaten up in the field. It was left sitting in a salvage yard for years. Unfortunately, none of the commercial logos were still visible, so little nostalgic character remained. Envisioning what they could make from the rusting carcass, the Pennells preceded to purchase the cab, front clip, and frame.
Once their prize was trailered home, they realized more thoroughly that the original frame had seen a lot of time under a welder’s arc. During its work life the truck had obviously been modified into various configurations. It was at that point they decided to source a 1997 Dodge Ram frame and start from there. After many modifications, a custom suspension, and the transplant of a modern powertrain, they had saved the sheetmetal from this old truck and had it out on the trail crawling.
1 To keep the ride smooth and flexy, the owners went with linked suspension at both ends. Up front is a three-link setup; a triangulated four-link sits under the rear. Lower links are
2x0.250-wall and the uppers are 1.5x0.120-wall DOM tubing with Johnny Joints. All four coilover shocks have 12 inches of travel. The fronts are
21⁄2-inch-diameter King shocks while the rears are 2-inch-diameter Fox shocks.
2 A trussed Ford E-350 Dana 60 axle sits in the rear. The 35-spline shafts spin with 5.38 gearing on another Grizzly locker. Raceline beadlocks and 42-inch Pit Bull Rockers help this rig roll over obstacles with ease.
3 Fitting the 1995 Dodge 5.9L Magnum V-8 in the 1997 Ram 1500 frame was a simple bolt-in process. It’s been warmed over with a mild camshaft, EngineQuest heads, and Edelbrock 7577 intake, and has been topped with a Holley Sniper EFI unit. Space is tight under the vintage hood, so a Ford Super Duty hydroboost master cylinder is used. A Griffin aluminum radiator up front keeps coolant temperature under control. A 46RH four-speed automatic and four-speed Atlas transfer case complete the powertrain.
4 A 1995 Ford high-pinion, ball-joint Dana 60 was hung under the front of the truck. It was built with Dodge knuckles and Lost Industries high-steer arms that are pushed side-to-side with a PSC full-hydro steering system. A Yukon Grizzly locker and 5.38:1 gears ride inside. Aaron and Natalie Pennell built a stubby tube bumper on the front of the Ram frame and added a Warn XD9000 winch with synthetic rope.
5 The interior was updated with Auto Meter American Muscle gauges and an Ididit steering column The Pennells cannibalized an auto transmission shifter from a Mitsubishi Montero Sport, modified it to work with the Chrysler
46RH, and mounted it in the center of the dash. The Atlas four-speed levers can be seen below. Note the simple but highly useful cupholders.
6 A custom rollcage built from 13⁄4-inch DOM tubing fits snuggly in the cab interior. Hisand-hers Corbeau seats provide a comfortable ride in the old cab—his is a Moab and hers a Baja XRS. A pair of CNC cutting brake levers resides between the seats and helps when doing front dig steering maneuvers.
7 The Ram 1500 frame was chopped in the rear to make way for the rear-linked suspension. After all the custom mods were completed on the frame, it was completely powdercoated in textured black. Now a custom tire carrier sits in the rear. Gas struts assist with raising it, allowing access to the fuel cell, toolbox, and cooler.
“The Pennells envisioned what they could make from the rusting carcass ”