Car of the Week: 1940 Dodge half-ton pickup

Ben Williams September 8, 2020 6 No Comments


40 Dodge small

He won’t ever strive it once more, however for one superb event, Mike Klatt was capable of put one over on his spouse.

The finish end result was a show-stopping, restored-to-like-new 1940 Dodge half-ton pickup that initially belonged to Klatt’s grandfather. The story of how the truck was pulled from its lengthy slumber and restored to its former glory is a contented story that each Mike and Dana, his spouse, might be telling for years.

“My grandpa had it originally. I don’t know for sure if he bought it new,” Mike recollects. “You bet, I remember it. And I remember riding with Grandpa. He always smoked big cigars and chewed Plow Boy Tobacco. I’ll always remember that … Then eventually my brother [Norby] had it and he didn’t really drive it — maybe on Saturdays to the dump once in a while. He wasn’t the kind of guy that would ever restore it or anything, but I wanted to someday restore it if I could.”

Norby inherited the truck in 1977 and had it till someday within the 1980s when Mike lastly discovered a option to get it away from him. “He had an old ’70s-something pickup and the transmission was bad, and I had a buddy that had a car repair shop,” Mike remembers. “I said, ‘I’ll put a transmission in it if you give me that old truck.’ So after a few beers one night we put a transmission in his truck and I got the title for this truck!”

The excellent news was he had the truck. The dangerous information is that it was deteriorating badly, didn’t run and Klatt, a plumbing contractor, had neither the time or ambition to revive it. So he retired the Dodge to a storage unit owned by a good friend and the truck went right into a prolonged hibernation.

Dodge gave its truck lineup a major restyling and update in 1939, and the 1940 models had only a few minor changes. Mike and Dana Klatt’s beautiful half-ton pickup is nearly stock inside and out with a few minor tweaks such as a second tail lamp and small signal lamps on the headlamps for safety.

Dodge gave its truck lineup a significant restyling and replace in 1939, and the 1940 fashions had just a few minor modifications. Mike and Dana Klatt’s lovely half-ton pickup is almost inventory in and out with a number of minor tweaks akin to a second tail lamp and little sign lamps on the headlamps for security.

In about 2010, Mike determined the time was proper to start out restoring the ’40, and thru Gunner’s Great Garage, a enterprise run by former Old Cars editor John Gunnell that supplied do-it-yourselfers with area and assets to work on their collector automobiles, Klatt bought attached with a restorer. “Then all of a sudden he left for some reason, and I thought, ‘Oh, boy, I’m out of my money,’” Klatt says. “And John says, ‘No, I’m going to make it right for you,’ and he got a hold of another guy that he knew and he asked him if he would take it on, and they guys said ‘Yeah.’ And it turns out the guy’s shop is only about 3 miles from my house! His name is Mark Seidler, and he took it on and he now he’s gotta work on a vehicle that he didn’t disassemble. He just had parts in bags and pictures. But he took it totally apart. Every nut and bolt down to the frame has been redone!”


Dodge known as its 1939 mannequin 12 months “The truck of the year.” It actually was by way of the course the corporate was taking. In addition to a completely redesigned truck line, Dodge opened the world’s largest truck manufacturing facility. This trendy new facility value greater than $6 million and was constructed to be an unique truck-building operation. The plant was positioned in Warren, Mich., and continues to be constructing Dodge vans right now.

The 1939 Dodge TC collection sported all-new sheet metallic on the earlier mannequin’s 116-in. wheelbase. Gone had been the industrial sedan, Westchester Suburban and the raised roof panel. The new line consisted of a pickup, panel, cover and display screen fashions.

This is what the truck looked like when the second restorer, Mark Seidler, took over. It hadn’t run in 30 years, had been disassembled by the previous restorer and arrived in pieces and boxes on a trailer. Restoring it turned out to be a 10-year ordeal, but in this case patience paid off.

This is what the truck appeared love when the second restorer, Mark Seidler, took over. It hadn’t run in 30 years, had been disassembled by the earlier restorer and arrived in items and bins on a trailer. Restoring it turned out to be a 10-year ordeal, however on this case endurance paid off.

There was a household resemblance between the Dodge automotive and truck strains, however the vans had been undoubtedly buying a glance of their very own. The new vans had been notably good-looking and trendy trying. The half-ton truck engine for 1939 really took a backward step. It was decreased from 218 cid to 201 cid. Dodge continued to check with the half-ton collection as its “Commercial” collection, however in the end, Dodge was starting to acknowledge the favored tonnage classification of half, 3/four 1-1/2 2-1/2 and three tons and designate its fashions this fashion.

Standard truck gear included: entrance and rear shock absorbers; spare tire and tube; entrance bumper; rear bumper on panel fashions; hood decoration; security glass; electrical horn; mixture cease and tail lamp; license plate brackets; software package; speedometer; gas gauge; oil stress gauge; ammeter; engine temperature indicator; choke throttle; high-beam headlamps; glove compartment; cowl vent; and vacuum windshield wipers. Panel, cover and display screen fashions got here with a single bucket seat.

A new replacement box was located to replace the original. Like the rest of the truck, it is in like-new condition.

A brand new substitute field was positioned to exchange the unique. Like the remainder of the truck, it’s in like-new situation.

In 1940, a 12 months after the massive redesign, the half-ton collection continued with minimal modifications, however the collection designation was renamed VC. Engine horsepower within the 201-cid inline six-cylinder was elevated from 70 to 79 and most torque elevated from 148 to 154 lbs.-ft. Sealed-beam headlamps had been new as nicely, as was a 35-amp capability generator to energy them. Max gross weight was elevated from 4000 to 4200 lbs.

Another new function was a brand new wheel attaching bolt made for right- and left-hand threads to stop loosening. The entrance finish look was modified by redesigning the chrome strips on the V-shaped grille. The chrome strips had been moved upward and Dodge nameplates had been faraway from the entrance grille strip.

Five metal disc wheels had been fitted with 6.00 x 16-in. tires — the fifth rode on an underslung spare tire service. Options included: an oil bathtub air cleaner; rear bumper; a generator for slow-speed operation; chrome headlamps; twin horns; six-ply tires; auxiliary taillamp; four-speed transmission; chrome windshield body; and twin electrical wipers. The half-ton pickup carried a base value of $590 and weighed 2950 lbs.

With vinyl upholstery, rubber mats on an otherwise bare floor, simple steel dash, minimal gauges and three-speed on the floor, the ‘Job-Rated’ 1940 Dodge trucks were akin to other haulers of the day — utilitarian and built to work.

With vinyl upholstery, rubber mats on an in any other case naked flooring, easy metal sprint, minimal gauges and three-speed on the ground, the ‘Job-Rated’ 1940 Dodge vans had been akin to different haulers of the day — utilitarian and constructed to work.

Dodge truck gross sales had been up for 1940 by 13.1 % to 54,323, retaining Dodge in fourth place within the truck gross sales race. Government gross sales had been additionally good because the Army equipped for the battle in Europe. Dodge offered greater than 10,000 half-ton fashions and greater than 8000 1-1/2 tons. Dodge additionally started producing its personal line of cab-over fashions this 12 months.


Dana Klatt hadn’t seen her husband’s 1940 Dodge in years, however she ultimately began dropping not-so-subtle hints that perhaps it was time for him to fish or lower bait with the truck. “I had just told him, ‘We’re not getting any younger and you’re gonna have to sell it or fix it or do something, or it’s going to just sit there,’” she says. “Nobody is going to know anything about it and it’s just sitting up there, so if you can get a few bucks for it, get rid of it.” Unbeknownst to Dana, the truck was already a piece in progress.

“Yeah, all that time it was being worked on just 3 miles down the road. I was going to surprise her!” Mike mentioned.

The six-volt electrics have been preserved in this engine, which was original to the truck. Likewise, the interior of the truck is restored original to the truck.

The six-volt electrics have been preserved on this engine, which was authentic to the truck. Likewise, the inside of the truck is restored authentic to the truck.

The undertaking required Seidler to principally begin from scratch. He welded in new bottoms for the rear fenders, purchased a copy metallic field and stained and put in new ash planks for the mattress. The remainder of the physique was in items and required loads of bodywork. The body was blasted and re-painted, and all of the operating gear — engine, transmission and rear finish — was rebuilt.

“If it would have been a Chevy or a Ford I think it would have easier. Being a Dodge, it was a little harder,” Mike famous. “One factor is we might have simply gotten fiberglass fenders. They are a dime a dozen, however I mentioned, ‘Nope, let’s wait.’ We waited a pair years and at last we bought some. The solely factor we did totally different was it had the left tail mild on it, so we added directional lights. And Mark discovered small double-filament 6-volt bulbs and put them on the unique headlights so we made them directional lights [for safety] and we made the wipers electrical as a substitute of vacuum. We saved all of it 6-volt. It’s optimistic floor, which is a small totally different. The colours are authentic. The operating boards had been rusted out and he discovered one other pair and welded them in. The fender bottoms he lower off and re-welded them. There isn’t a handful of mud on this truck. He simply actually took his time. The new field we ordered. The entrance bumper is new. New entrance bumper … Mark was so explicit, I might by no means get upset with something he did. We did get numerous components out of Michigan at some place that handles all Dodge components. All the gauges had been despatched out to California to get re-done.

The 201-cid inline six-cylinder worked hard to earn its reputation as a dependable power plant.

The 201-cid inline six-cylinder labored laborious to earn its fame as a reliable energy plant.

“The solely factor he mentioned is that if I ever took it to a very high-class present, we’d get deducted as a result of it’s simply bought common nuts and bolts that got here from Fastenal.”

Mike didn’t thoughts that Seidler took on a regular basis he wanted, however ultimately he knew the jig was going to be up along with his spouse. A good friend who knew the truck was being secretly restored nearly spilled the beans one evening at a neighborhood baseball sport. Mike tried to persuade Dana that the person was referring to a snowmobile, however she wasn’t shopping for the story.

“Then I was getting mad at him because I’ve been married to him for 40 years and I can tell when he’s giving me a line,” she laughs. “I had no thought what he was doing and I used to be guessing every thing, imagine me!

“This story makes me sound love an actual witch,” she laughed, “but I really am a nice person!”

Finally, Mike admitted he had a shock for her and advised her they might take a trip on a Friday evening final September to see what it was. The hassle was, Seidler wasn’t fairly completed with the truck. Regardless, the Dodge was going to be unveiled.

“So I told [Seidler] we were coming … and we were driving all around these back roads and she was wondering what was going on. He’s got a really long driveway, and finally when we were pulling in he was just pulling the truck out of his shop. And I’m fearing for my life. ‘Is this going to be the big one or what?’” Mike recollects. “And he pulled it out of his shop and she said, ‘That’s Grandpa’s truck!’ and the weight of the world was lifted off my shoulders. She was happy and has given me all the support in the world on it. I was just ecstatic.”

In the previous 12 months, the couple has added a number of hundred miles to the odometer, which learn a paltry 22,000-plus authentic miles. “Grandpa didn’t drive it very far,” Mike says. “It was only a native work truck.

“It drives love a ’40! No energy steering, no energy brakes. You’ve bought to double-clutch it. You must go from in gear to impartial and let the clutch out and it drops in … there isn’t a grinding, it’s simply excellent. It does have a heater that initially got here with it and we left that in there. And we don’t know if the suicide knob was [original], or not. But it drives good!”

The “GRPAS40” customized license plates summarize each the truck’s previous and its current, and provides a small trace of how a lot the 80-year-old Dodge means to its homeowners.

“It was my grandpa’s truck, and now I’m a grandpa, too,” Mike jokes. “It’s really my pride and joy — OUR pride and joy. It took 10 years to restore it. A lot of people would say, ‘My gosh, I wouldn’t wait that long.’ It was worth the wait. To me, it was worth it. Being my grandfather’s, it meant that much to me.”

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Nick Dassow brought his 1968 Chevrolet K10 4x4 pickup back to showfield condition gradually over the course of 10 years. The rear bumper on this truck is a custom touch from an earlier model Chevy truck, but the rest of this wonderful truck is largely stock, with much of the interior featuring upscale Deluxe details.
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