The Dodge 500 Series Trucks - Made in England (Sold as Commer, DeSoto, etc.)
The Dodge 500 was a heavy duty truck intended for moving a variety of payloads in the UK and in our export markets. Our job was to develop a truck range to carry the allowable increased loads efficiently and reliably. The specifications offered on these trucks were the primary appeal to the operators, who knew their operations and their requirements. We sold a cab and chassis and the operators arranged for the purchase of the bodies or trailers.
The 500 Series was developed in the early 1960s to replace an aging truck and to fill the need for a competitive range of vehicles, since British Construction and Use Regulations were significantly changed in 1964. They were in line with changes made in European countries, and ultimately in the European Common Market. Gross vehicle and gross combination weights were increased to 16 to 28 tons and 22 to 32 tons, respectively, depending on the chassis configuration. Axle loading was also increased in most applications. The "tons" mentioned are British or long tons of 2240 lbs. Overall vehicle lengths were also increased 6 to 7 feet.
The styling of the cab could not be handled in Detroit and they suggested that I consider Ghia, in Turin, Italy. I knew Luigi Segre who headed Ghia, so, with one meeting in Turin, we concluded that it was the logical site for styling the cab. They had never worked on a truck and were excited at the prospect. As you can imagine, their approach was restricted since the cab was defined dimensionally as a large box. I worked closely with them, spending 3-4 days every two weeks, in Turin. The cab features were known to them and they did a fine job creating a new, fresh appearance.
The engineering of the trucks was done by my small engineering staff at Kew with the help of many of our suppliers. The suspensions were nothing exotic, since we designed leaf springs in the front and rear, plus rear auxiliary springs as needed.
The final resolution was a diesel powered forward control truck, with a tilt cab. It was introduced at the 1964 British Truck Show at Earls Court, in September, with production launch in December.
British heavy trucks were sold in prime (primer paint only, no shiny coat). We did not have a variety of colors. The customers preferred it this way. They took delivery in prime and made their own arrangements to have the painting of the cab, and body or trailer, in the color of their choice, along with the identification of their company, type of business, and address they required. The finished product was a joy to see on the road.
Dodge - DeSoto - Fargo 500 cab features
- New, fresh appearance.
- Forward step entry, in front of the wheel...for driver convenience; but essential for low tonnage models in local delivery use.
- Roominess and comfort.
- Improved forward and rearward visibility, with a single pane, curved windshield.
- Locate engine with minimum intrusion into the cab.
- Tilt cab with a 40 degree forward tilt provides easy, quick access to the engine. The cab weight is counter balanced with a torsion bar. permitting a quick one man operation. All of the cab controls were designed to move as part of the cab.
- Full length stamped door panels, concealing the forward entry step.
- Name plates for Dodge, Fargo, and DeSoto models.
Dodge - DeSoto - Fargo 500 Chassis frame
The frames were designed with the help of the stamping supplier. If carried on with a low carbon steel frame, we would have had a much larger and heavier frame assembly. With the supplier's participation, we arrived at a special alloy, high tensile steel allowing us to have the strength for the heavy loads with a smaller frame section and a weight saving.
Tubular and channel section cross members are bolted to the frame sidemembers. Spring hanger brackets are also bolted to the frame, utilizing the cross members where possible. For the larger tonnage models, the sidemembers are 12 1/2" deep, with 3" flanges. No holes are drilled in the flanges. The frame depth for the lighter models is 10". The frame rails are straight and 40" apart, an international standard for body mounting. The frame rails were widened beneath the cab to facilitate engine mounting. Frame reinforcements were available on many models.
Fargo - Dodge - DeSoto 500 engines
When I arrived in England in 1959, I was informed that Chrysler International management had concluded that, to be successful in selling heavy trucks overseas, we had to have a Chrysler diesel of our own manufacture. The larger and heavier trucks also required more powerful diesel engines operating at higher governed speeds. We spend the first year or so approaching various European and Japanese diesel engine manufacturers to determine whether they would consider licensing Chrysler to manufacture their engine, in England, under the Chrysler name, and to apply "Chrysler" on each engine. This approach did not go too well. Fortunately, our Chrysler Detroit contacts informed us that Cummins Engine Co., Columbus, Indiana had developed V6 and V8 engines of suitable output for our requirements and would consider the manufacture in England. It was agreed that Chrysler Motors Lts. and Cummins, in a 50/50 joint venture, would manufacture these engines in Darlington, County Durham.
For the 500 Series, V6 and V8 Cummins U.S.A. designed engines were selected. These engines were manufactured in a 50/50 joint venture of Chrysler Motors Ltd and Cummins Engine Co. U.S.A. in Darlington, County Durham, in the northeast part of England. Cummins also built an separate facility adjacent to the engine plant to manufacture the unique accessory components such diesel fuel pumps, fuel injectors, air compressers, etc. The name "Chrysler Diesel" appeared on each engine.
The Perkins 6-354 diesel engine was retained for lighter truck usage. They were manufactured in Peterborough, England.
|Name||V6 - 1||V6 - 2||V8||I-6|
|Type||90 degree V6||90 degree V8||Inline six cylinder|
|Bore x Stroke||4.625 x 3.50||3.875 x5.00|
|Redline||3,000 rpm||3,300 rpm||3,000 rpm||2,800 rpm|
Right hand and left hand drive
2 axles - GVW 15,000-36,000 lbs.; payload 3 1/2 -11 tons
3 Axles -GVW 40,000-48,400 lbs.; payload 12-16 tons
Tractors-GCW 40,000-67,000 lbs.
Commercial truck transmissions
5-speed constant mesh and synchromesh transmissions were available. A range of single and 2-speed rear axles were offered. For tractors and 6 x4 trucks, 2-speed axles were standard. Optional ratios were available on transmissions and rear axles.
All models, except two light trucks, were equipped with dual line, full air braking systems. The light truck models had vacuum hydraulic brakes. A unique variable ratio hand brake provided full time holding power. On the heavy trucks and tractors, with air brakes, the parking brake is air power assisted.