The US Military commissioned a redesign of the long-serving WC light duty trucks in early 1950. The WC had performed well during WWII as a multi-purpose vehicle, serving in various configurations such as telephone maintenance trucks, ambulances and command vehicles. But by 1950 a refresh was needed so Dodge introduced the M37 ¾ ton truck. The design was fairly conventional and an evolution of the WC, centered around a 78 horsepower, long stroke L-head inline six that had roots reaching back to the 1930’s. A four speed manual transmission was fitted along with a robust New Process 2-speed transfer case and heavy duty axles. The M37 may not have been high tech or particularly ground-breaking, but it was strong, reliable and simple. Thanks to generous ground clearance and low gearing, it was extremely capable in difficult terrain and could tow hefty payloads.
The military assigned a different designation to each version of the M37 truck. Command vehicles were known as the M42, V41 for telephone maintenance, M152 for enclosed utility truck, R2 for field fire service and finally M43 for the ambulance. Between 1951 and 1968, approximately 115,000 of all versions were built and they served the military well into the 1970’s. Despite engine improvements made by the Hercules Company, demands of an ever faster fleet began to expose the engine’s 1930’s origins. The M37 series was replaced in the 1970’s with the Kaiser-Jeep M715.
This 1955 M43 Ambulance has been lightly restored to a functional, usable condition with good detailing inside and out. Recently out of an extensive military vehicle collection, it has been very well cared for since its restoration. M43s have a distinctive and tough look – sitting tall on big 9.00 x 16 Goodyear non-directional military tires and with broad, open front fenders and the signature side mounted spare wheel. The exterior is finished in proper olive drab and adorned with period correct ambulance markings. The basic cockpit is a lesson in function over form. It includes restored upholstery, but is otherwise properly rugged and sparse as any military vehicle should be. Full instrumentation and correct operation placards adorn the dash. It even features dash-mounted controls for fording deep water and of course all controls for the transfer case. In the ambulance body, fold down cots and storage boxes line the walls, and is fitted with its own separate ventilation fan powered by the standard 24-volt electrical system. There is a fold up step to access the back, and cots have upholstered padding. The engine compartment is tidy and appropriately detailed. It is fully functional, strong running and ready for just about any terrain you can throw at it.
While it may not have neck-snapping performance, it is highly capable off-road, but still very usable on the road. A welcome addition to any military collection, this M43 would most certainly be a popular entrant at historic military shows. Besides being a great show piece, it has the added benefit of carrying its own rustic accommodations out back, that is, if you don’t mind a bit of minimalist camping. This M43 Ambulance is a wonderful period piece that would be appropriate for military meets or for enjoyment out on your favorite trails.
If you would like to own a vintage Dodge M43 truck, contact us today and learn more about our car consignment program. We are able to cater to the buyer’s individual needs with respect to financing, long and short-term storage, trades-ins, shipping, mechanical and cosmetic preparation