The C Series Dodge Pickup Trucks (1954-1960)
While the B series Dodge pickups were popular, the C series, brought out in 1954, had a different style (albeit not so different you could not see any family resemblance). Perhaps that is because they were, again, brand new - redesigned from the ground up, complete with a new frame that added wheel clearance for even tighter turns.
The cab was lower, with even more glass; a curved single piece windshield helped modernize the rounded trucks. Inside, the pedals were mounted to the frame to reduce vibration, new gauges were placed directly in front of the driver, the glove compartment was moved to the center of the dash, and control buttons were clustered on the driver’s right hand side. The same six cylinder engines were used, but new V8s became optional; when they appeared midyear on the lighter duty trucks, the 218 six was eliminated, and the 230 six became standard on light-duty trucks.
Other cosmetic changes included moving the nameplates from the hood to the fender, moving the parking lamps from the grille (or shortening the grille to avoid the parking lamps), putting the hood's center support to the grille and adding a round emblem. Despite all the cosmetic changes, lower and more comfortable cabs, and the new frames, the wheelbases were the same (108 and 116 inches); the Town Panel was only available on the shorter wheelbase. Beds were 6½ and 7½ feet.
1955 saw the first use of letter designators to indicate weight hauling capabilities, with the half-ton called “B,” the 3/4 ton called “C,” and the one-ton called “D” — for names like C-1B, C-1C, and C-1D.
The efficient, expensive-to-build Hemi engines overpowered the competition. They started with the 133 horsepower 241 (220 lb-ft torque) and moved up to the 172 horsepower 331 (294 lb-ft). The flathead six was still available, with increased power (100 or 110 hp depending on the displacement).
In 1955, visibility increased even more with wraparound windshields. Cosmetic changes from 1955 through 1975 (later for some export heavy-duty trucks) continued in front of the cab. The PowerFlite automatic also debuted in 1955, with two gears. Half-ton pickups could get an overdrive unit on the manual three-speed instead.
The flat head six gained power, moving up to 120 horses by 1957, where it stayed through its final days in 1960. By 1957, a new 315 cid V8 was available with 204 horsepower.
After a few years, the marketing of the C series pickups was updated, even as the basic truck remained the same. Dodge introduced the name "Power Giant" in 1957, adding an optional, wider Sweptline cargo box in 1959. Along with the new name, Dodge began to use the industry-standard rating system, calling its half-ton pickups the D100 (today, Ford uses that numbering system, while GM and Dodge have inflated their numbers to 1500, 2500, and 3500). However, the 1957 was the “K” pickup, so a half ton would be designated K6D100 (six cylinder, rear wheel drive, half ton). A V8 in the 3/4 ton class would be K8-D200; while the W designation shows four wheel drive, e.g. K8-W100. This lasted until 1965, when the Dodge A-100 was introduced; Dodge then designated the trucks under the simplified series such as the D100, D200 or W100 etc. The top of the line appeared to be the 700 model cab-over-engine tractor, shown below with a 35-foot trailer.
Dodge claimed that their 1957 line “covers 98% of all hauling needs,” with nine engines and 12 different horsepower ratings. Other 1957 additions were a hood that opened completely, power steering and brakes, tubeless tires, a push-button three-speed automatic, and a 12 volt electrical system for greater reliability. For more on the 1957 Dodge Sweptside pickups, click here.
Along with the Sweptline cargo box, which essentially followed the dimensions of the cab rather than narrowing, the 1959 models got a new grille, and running boards were concealed behind the doors. The Utiline "one-ton" truck had a maximum gross vehicle weight of 9,000 pounds with its optional dual rear wheels.
The original A-type 318 saw truck duty in 1959, with 205 horsepower (downgraded to 200 in 1960), as the Hemi left truck duty until 2002.
1960 brought the new-style pedals, which hang from above rather than connect through the floor, but pretty much all other powertrain features were the same. The Sweptline boxes were redesigned to add four inches of width. See our 1960 Dodge truck section.