At $3,500, Is This 1944 Dodge WC-52 Military Truck Ready to Soldier on?

Photo: Craigslist
Nice Price Or Crack PipeIs this used car a good deal? You decide!

Here in the U.S., July 4th is all about the celebration of independence. What could be more independent than buying today’s Nice Price or Crack Pipe Dodge WC? Let’s se if this WWII-era truck’s price is any reason to celebrate.

I dislike any mechanical device that buries simple, consumable parts behind a lot of complicated bits and pieces. I’m looking at you Jag XKE inboard rear disc brakes! This frustration can also be expressed when confronted by yesterday’s 1985 Kawasaki GPz900 Ninja motorcycle.

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That bike suffered symptoms—no electric start, rider experiencing perfuse sweating and labored breathing from having to bump-start it in lieu of that mechanical labor saver—that pointed to a failed starter clutch. That fairly simple part–three springs and rollers in a cup—could only be accessed and replaced by removing the entire drivetrain unit, tearing it apart, and most importantly, remembering where every bolt and washer, chain, gear, clip and plug went back during reassembly.

That factor made the Ninja’s $4,500 price tag seem unpalatable to the majority of you, and the bike fell (as bikes are wont to do) in an 84 percent Crack Pipe loss.

You know, if you weren’t willing to dig into that Kawasaki to make it right as rain, I wonder what you’ll make of today’s 1944 Dodge WC-52 truck? After all it needs… well everything. And, based on the truck’s patina, you might need a tetanus booster before even diving into it.

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Still, I don’t think we could find a better candidate for our Independence Day contest. This truck is, after all, a veteran. It’s also a traditional American make, albeit one that is presently under the ownership of a corporation in what was once an Axis partner. Finally, it represents a great opportunity for roll-up your sleeves and get busy gumption, and there’s nothing more American than that.

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Dodge introduced the WC series in late 1941. The trucks were immediately pressed into service by the U.S. military for pretty much every duty that the smaller Jeep couldn’t handle. Featuring 4WD and a ¾ ton capacity, the WC trucks proved vital in their military service all the way through WWII and well into the Korean conflict.

Two models of WC were offered—the 51 without a PTO winch and the 52 which had one. This one has the winch, which required an extension to the frame for its mount. That winch was originally spec’d at a 7,500 pound capacity so it could theoretically pull the whole truck up off the ground. This WC also has a roof that is removable. You might want to do that before any of the aforementioned winch-related shenanigans.

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There’s also a stand and what you might take for a large dent in the running board on the driver’s side. That actually is the mount and factory indentation for the spare tire, which is presently AWOL. Rust covers most of the truck’s surface, and where it hasn’t poked its nasty head through there’s still Army-spec olive drab. One headlamp nestles close to the hood behind a protective bar while on the other side that bar’s effectiveness gets called into question as the lamp expected there is gone. It’s in the cab if you’re wondering.

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The seller notes that the buckets in there are in good shape and that none of the rust seems to be structurally threatening. The gauges, identification plates and most knobs and levers are all present and accounted for, and there are at least three tires that hold air for the better part of a week!

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The engine is a Dodge T214 straight six. That’s a 230 cubic inch displacement flat head that Dodge rated at 92 horsepower and 180 lb-ft of torque. That could muster the WC-52 to almost 55 miles per hour if you had enough time on your hands. This one is locked up, requiring a dose of Marvel Mystery Oil or kerosene down each of the spark plug holes and a good strong arm and cheater to break it free. Then maybe it’ll run. At worst it’ll require new rings which shouldn’t be that big a deal. A four-speed New Process manual transmission takes its orders from that and sends them on to a single-ratio transfer case. No word from the seller as to their condition, however their levers move which is a good sign.

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Two-piece combat wheels underpin the truck. Above those sits a wide bed originally designed to seat four soldiers to a side. There is no title, but honestly, on a truck of this age is that really an issue? Taken as a whole this WC-52 is both horrifyingly and gloriously ratty. Who wouldn’t want to rescue it from an uncertain fate?

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To do so, you’ll need to come up with a trailer and towing vehicle that can accommodate the non-running truck’s substantial 5,345 pound weight. You’ll also have to come up with $3,500 since that’s the asking price. What’s your take on those dollars for this Dodge? Does that sound like a great way to celebrate Independence Day? Or, for that asking, would you take the fifth?

You decide!

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Austin, TX Craigslist, or go here if the ad disappears.

H/T to Rodman for the hookup.

Help me out with NPOCP. Hit me up at rob@jalopnik.com and send me a fixed-price tip. Remember to include your Kinja handle.

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About the author

Rob Emslie

Rob Emslie is a contributing writer for Jalopnik. He has too many cars, and not enough time to work on them all.