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Behind the Wheel of the Legacy Classic Trucks Power Wagon

Truck Trend logo Truck Trend 2015-06-19 Jason Gonderman, Brett T. Evans
Behind the Wheel of the Legacy Classic Trucks Power Wagon

When shopping for a new (or new-to-self) truck, this author always finds himself in a dilemma: Should I buy something older, something that will have some personality and be a little more fun to drive? Or should I get something brand-spanking-new and enjoy modern comfort, extra power, and the latest in electronics?

It’s a common problem among automotive enthusiasts. The old stuff feels right, but the new stuff makes more sense logically. Legacy Classic Trucks has the solution, if you’ve got the dollars (about 200,000 of them should do it).

002 Legacy Classic Trucks 1947 Dodge Power Wagon © Provided by TruckTrend 002 Legacy Classic Trucks 1947 Dodge Power Wagon

Power Wagon Redux

The Legacy Classic Trucks Dodge Power Wagon looks a lot like any other Power Wagon of its vintage. It’s got some large beadlock wheels and 40-inch tires replacing its original steelies and bias-ply rubber, but otherwise, it looks like a well-preserved original or a sympathetic restoration. However, its neat-as-a-pin style was no indicator for the fury that would unleash when we turned the key. Under the split-wing hood of both of our testers was a supercharged, 6.2L GM E-Rod LSA V-8, producing 585 hp and 580 lb-ft of torque, transforming the restomod Power Wagon into a torque-happy animal on the street and trail. These power numbers would be plenty for most, however, the extended cab 1949 Power Wagon had just left a date with the tuner where the wick was turned up to well over 600 hp. In fact, at the end of the tuning session the truck laid down 529 uncorrected horsepower to the rear wheels, leading us to believe the engine is pushing closed to 630 hp at the crank.

029 Legacy Classic Trucks 1947 Dodge Power Wagon Dynatrac Prorock Dana 80 Rear Axle © Provided by TruckTrend 029 Legacy Classic Trucks 1947 Dodge Power Wagon Dynatrac Prorock Dana 80 Rear Axle

Keeping all of that power under control is a GM 4L85E automatic transmission, which routs power through an Atlas transfercase (or beefed-up NP205 in the case of the extended cab) and then to the customer’s choice of axles. Both of our testers were equipped with Dynatrac ProRock 80 axles in the rear, while the extended cab (red) featured a ProRock 80 front and the regular cab (gray) used a ProRock 60. One of the trucks we drove (red) was equipped with ARB air lockers front and rear, while the other (gray) had a simpler limited-slip differential out back. A hydroboost system and four-wheel disc brakes replace the original Power Wagon’s drums, and the front and rear suspensions are given a thorough refresh with new front leaf springs, reworked rear springs, and Bilstein 5100 shock absorbers. Combined, the new engine and suspension package allows the Power Wagon to safely tow up to 8,000 pounds.

024 Legacy Classic Trucks 1947 Dodge Power Wagon Supercharged Chevy Lsa V8 © Provided by TruckTrend 024 Legacy Classic Trucks 1947 Dodge Power Wagon Supercharged Chevy Lsa V8

While some may raise an eyebrow regarding such an extensive restomod job using leaves instead of coil springs, Legacy founder Winslow Bent insists the trucks make more sense so equipped. “The goal wasn’t to make this thing drive like a German car,” he says. “It’s a truck, it should feel like a truck. But we also want it to be safe, so we update it.”

006 Legacy Classic Trucks 1947 Dodge Power Wagon © Provided by TruckTrend 006 Legacy Classic Trucks 1947 Dodge Power Wagon

On-Road Style

If that was the goal for Winslow and his team, they absolutely succeeded. The red Power Wagon extended cab drives very nice for such an old truck. The 13-pack leaf springs out back never let you forget you’re driving a truck that was designed in 1945, but thoroughly updated steering components and modern brakes mean the Power Wagon isn’t intimidating at all. The LSA V-8 is surprisingly docile as well. Digging past the first little bit of the throttle pedal’s travel wakes up the engine’s supercharger, which pushes the truck forward without drama, feeling more like a diesel-electric freight train than a fire-spitting muscle car engine. Get on it hard and it’ll go 0-60 in about six seconds, Winslow says, with a comfortable cruising speed of 80-90 mph.

Speaking of diesel, prospective Legacy owners can spec a 3.9L 4BT Cummins engine in their Power Wagons. Power figures from the Cummins come in at a modest 170 hp and 480 lb-ft of torque. So equipped, the Legacy can tow about 12,000 pounds, while getting about 24 mpg unloaded. Twenty-four mpg in anything this old should inspire some kind of IRS audit, because it sounds like cheating to us. We’d love to drive one, so hopefully Legacy will invite us back soon. Other engine options include the Chrysler 360 and 426 Magnum V-8s, if you’re a die-hard Dodge fan. By the way, Winslow also loves working on REOs and Diamond Ts, so don’t feel like you’re confined to Dodge.

016 Legacy Classic Trucks 1947 Dodge Power Wagon © Provided by TruckTrend 016 Legacy Classic Trucks 1947 Dodge Power Wagon

While the powertrains are nice, it’s the attention to detail in the bodywork that really make these trucks what they are. Winslow seeks out clean-title Western U.S. trucks to start as the base for his conversions. Since the beds are often times not worth keeping, he developed the tooling to reproduce them. On a typical restoration, the frame, cab, and engine cover are kept original. The running boards, bed, and rear fenders are built in house. Legacy also boxes the factory C-channel frame to add rigidity, while also adding the mounts for their suspension and drivetrain components.

Original Power Wagons came in two configurations, single cab with a nine-foot bed or Carryall with a nine-passenger wagon body. However, customers can call up Legacy and order theirs with either a single cab, extended cab, or four-door crew cab, or as the family-friendly Carryall. Winslow’s talented crew of auto body fabricators and detailers does all of these modifications in-house at their facility in Idaho. When the bodywork is complete, a single-stage paint job is laid down utilizing current production paint codes. This ensures that the customer can easily match and repair his paint for decades to come.

040 Legacy Classic Trucks 1947 Dodge Power Wagon © Provided by TruckTrend 040 Legacy Classic Trucks 1947 Dodge Power Wagon

Interiors are updated to modern in any way the owner would like. Air conditioning from Vintage Air is standard, as are gauges from Classic Instruments, a modern electric windshield wiper conversion, three-point safety belts, and a Flaming River steering column. Optional are power windows and door locks, power seats, bucket or bench seats, and carpet or vinyl flooring.

Off-Road Simplicity

Find the right road, manipulate the twin-stick transfer case, and point the 40-inch tires up. That was the advice Winslow gave us when it was time to take the Power Wagons off the beaten path. While the off-road trails surrounding Ojai, California, aren’t known for their treachery, we found a suitably bumpy fire road that allowed us to explore Legacy’s off-road engineering efforts.

012 Legacy Classic Trucks 1947 Dodge Power Wagon © Provided by TruckTrend 012 Legacy Classic Trucks 1947 Dodge Power Wagon

The Dynatrac axles are notoriously robust, so nothing we were going to throw at them was going to cause any drama. The stiff rear suspension skittered about on the loose dirt, but traction was never an issue thanks to the 40-inch Toyo M/T tires and powerful V-8 engine. The trucks are capable of hard-core wheeling, and Winslow has taken them across the Rubicon trail, to the red rocks of Moab, and even out to the Hammers. Since we don’t own these and didn’t feel like losing our deposit on the quarter-million dollar trucks, we stuck to smooth roads and avoided body damage. Both trucks handled our simple off-road loop completely flawlessly. However, the trucks do run a bit warm in these conditions, so opening their bed mounted tool boxes to reveal the engine oil and charge air heat exchangers was a must for added airflow on this hot California day.

010 Legacy Classic Trucks 1947 Dodge Power Wagon © Provided by TruckTrend 010 Legacy Classic Trucks 1947 Dodge Power Wagon

The payoff to our drive was a stunning view at the end of the road. Looking out over Ojai from an altitude of 2,500 feet was the perfect place to admire the Power Wagon and reflect on the day. Winslow and the rest of the Legacy team have created something magical. The Power Wagon is nearly perfect, with modern power, classic styling, endless customizability, and nicely updated vintage road feel. Everyone who sees it loves it, from Mini Cooper-driving young hip things to old ranchers and farmers, from little kids and their mothers to Harley-riding fogeys. It never screams new money or poor taste. It’s comfortable and modern enough to be useful, but it never lets you forget the joys of classic car ownership.

So if you’re ever near Legacy Classic Trucks’ headquarters in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, give Winslow a call. You’ve got to see these Power Wagons.

Specifications
Vehicle: 1947 Dodge Power Wagon (gray)
Base Price: $225,000
Engine: 6.2L Chevrolet E-Rod LSA
Horsepower: 585
Torque: 580 lb-ft
Transmission: GM 4L85E four-speed automatic
Trasfer Case: Advance Adapters Atlas
Weight: 6,400 pounds
Height: 6 feet 11 inches
Length : 17 feet
Width: 80 inches
Wheelbase: 130 inches
Range : About 280 miles
Cruising Speed: 80 mph
Top Speed: 100+ mph
Fording Depth: 44 inches
Approach Angle : 60 degrees
Departure Angle: 45 degrees
Front Axle : Dynatrac ProRock 60
Rear Axle: Dynatrac ProRock 80
Differentials: Limited slip
Driveshafts: Tom Woods
Suspension: Military wrapped leaf spring front and rear, Bilstein 5100 shocks
Brakes: GM hydroboost with dual-piston calipers and Wilwood proportioning valve and PSC steering box
Cooling: Rod Davis radiator, transmission cooler, oil cooler, and charge-air cooler
Interior: GEN IV Vintage Air air conditioning, custom leather bench seat, Classic Instruments gauges, Flaming River steering column, Alpine stereo
Offroad Accessories : Warn 16.5ti 16,000-pound winch, dual front tow hooks, low profile fuel tank, 17x9-inch forged Trail Ready beadlock wheels, 40-inch Toyo Open Country M/T tires

007 Legacy Classic Trucks 1947 Dodge Power Wagon

007 Legacy Classic Trucks 1947 Dodge Power Wagon
© Provided by TruckTrend

Specifications
Vehicle: 1949 Dodge Power Wagon (red)
Base Price: $225,000
Engine: 6.2L Chevrolet E-Rod LSA
Power: 585hp
Torque: 580 lb-ft
Transmission: GM 4L85E four-speed automatic
Trasfercase: Offroad Design NP205
Weight: 6,400 pounds
Height: 6 feet 11 inches
Length: 17 feet
Width: 80 inches
Wheelbase: 130 inches
Range: About 280 miles
Cruising Speed: 80 mph
Top Speed: 100+ mph
Fording Depth: 44 inches
Approach Angle: 60 degrees
Departure Angle: 45 degrees
Front Axle: Dynatrac ProRock 80
Rear Axle: Dynatrac ProRock 80
Differentials: ARB air lockers front and rear
Driveshafts: Tom Woods
Suspension: Military wrapped leaf spring front and rear, Rancho shocks
Brakes: GM hydroboost with dual-piston calipers and Wilwood proportioning valve and PSC steering box
Cooling: Rod Davis radiator, transmission cooler, oil cooler, and charge-air cooler
Interior: GEN IV Vintage Air air conditioning, power door locks and windows, custom power leather seating, Classic Instruments gauges, Flaming River steering column, Alpine stereo
Offroad Accessories: Warn Power Plant winch, dual front tow hooks, low profile fuel tank, 17x9-inch forged Trail Ready beadlock wheels, 40-inch Toyo Open Country M/T tires

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