Mike Felix’s 1937 Dodge MC Pickup
From the build sheet I obtained from Historical Services at Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, I have determined:
My 1937 Dodge MC was built on June 23, 1937 at the Chrysler Corporation, Dodge Truck Division, Hamtramck plant in Michigan. When it left the factory it was shipped to Perth Amboy, New Jersey with the following options installed: shock absorbers, front and rear ($9.50), interior sun visor ($2), auxiliary windshield wiper ($4), a tire lock ($2.50) and a rear chrome bumper ($8.50). These accessories are still with the truck except for the tire lock, but the hole where the tire lock shackle would be locate is present in the hub where the spare attaches to the fender assembly.
Curiously, two items on the build sheet remain unresolved at this time. The first is the abbreviation, “sov”, in the list of options contained in the build sheet. Accordingly, the truck was built with three “sov” and I currently have no idea what the “sov” abbreviation identifies. Secondly, I can not determine if the truck left the factory with the utility box. The build sheet indicates the rear body as a “2”, unfortunately I am unable to determine what the “2” refers to, when describing the rear body. And the “rear fender” option is left unchecked on the build sheet. As you might expect, the truck has no rear fenders. If you know of anyone with knowledge of the coding used in Dodge build sheets from that era, I would appreciate their contact information.
I have had several automotive professionals analyze the utility body to determine who manufactured it. In addition to being unable to locate a makers mark, these individuals all concluded that the box was made by a manufacturing concern and not a one-off built by a local craftsman. The gauge of the metal and the accuracy of the stampings indicate to them, that the box was built by, an unnamed industrial manufacturer. The wiring and fittings used to secure the box to the frame rails also indicate the truck probably left the factory, with this box attached. If you know of anyone with knowledge of utility boxes and their manufacturers, I would appreciate their contact information.
The history of the truck from the time it left the factory until somewhere in the 50’s is unknown to me. The individual from whose estate it was purchased, in the 50’s, is identified in the faded black paint on both doors – Hans Kuhn, Builder, Grand Gorge. Grand Gorge is located in rural New York as is the farmer I pur-chased it from in 1977, who worked a dairy farm in Franklin, New York. During my college years I had seen the truck occasionally moved around the farm and noticed it did not have license plates on it. The story goes that the farmer bought the truck to use on the farm and for his boys to learn how to drive. The boys had no interest, so the farmer did not register it for the road. He used the Dodge to drive around the farm for approximately 20 years. So a few years out of college I got enough courage to ask him if it was for sale, we struck a deal and I towed it home a week or two later.
When I purchased the truck it was not drivable, the engine was seized, the interior was unusable, the windshield was delaminated, the rear window was broken and it had 107,960 miles on the odometer. I intend-ed to restore the truck and have fun with it. Over the years I never had the time or resources to devote to the truck. Fast forward from 1977 to 2015, the spring of ‘15, my son motivated me to get the truck running and usable again. Each of the trucks systems were evaluated and all parts that needed to be replaced were, so it would become a reliable driver. The Dodge passed Vermont state inspection in October of 2015 and I have been using it since. It does not have special antique plates, but regular truck plates, so I can enjoy it whenever possible and not have to worry about the restrictions imposed on vehicles with antique plates.
The truck is as original as I could keep it and still be a reliable driver. The inner surfaces of the utility box has its original paint as does the fenders and firewall. Some-where in the 50’s a previous owner hand brushed the light green paint over the stock dark green paint. Inside one of the utility box compartments are the two remaining original sliding wood trays used to hold tools.
The Dodge is used for weekend chores and has successfully taken me on one 320 mile round trip excursion in under 24 hours. What fun it is to experience the response of people as I pull into a shopping area. Most rave about the originality and patina of the truck, the uniqueness of the utility box and implore me not to change it. Double clutching to and from my weekend destinations has become something I very much look forward to and hope to continue enjoying for years to come.