Dodge’s relationship with the US Military began around 1916 when Dodge Brothers supplied touring cars to the government for use in an operation against Poncho Villa and his revolutionary soldiers from Mexico. The battle, held in May of 1916 was the first time the US Army engaged in motorized battle, earning Dodge this somewhat dubious distinction. The Dodge Brothers had earned the trust of the military and they went on to supply a number of different trucks throughout the coming years. In the late 1930s, with war in Europe looming, officials needed to update the motor fleet and Dodge was once again entrusted to build a medium duty, half-ton four-wheel-drive workhorse. The first VC-series arrived in 1940, though it was essentially a stopgap model, based on a modified civilian chassis. By the time the United States entered the war, however, the purpose built WC series was beginning to hit shore around the world.
The first WC-series (WC1 through WC50) was a ½ - ton truck used as a weapons carrier or staff car, depending on the body. For 1943 it was revised again with an improved body for easier troop access, and upgraded axles and suspension allowing a ¾ ton capacity. The WC51 was powered by a 230 cubic inch flathead inline six, a stout, virtually indestructible unit that was designed to run on the worst quality fuel the world had to offer. The four wheel drive system was via an in-out transfer case (no low range) and stump-pulling ratios on the New Process gearbox meant the WC could traverse virtually any terrain regardless of cargo. The Dodge WC was every bit a faithful beast of burden as the iconic Jeep, proving itself under fire in virtually every theater of World War II.
This 1943 WC51 is an incredible example, exceptionally presented with period equipment that includes a genuine 1943 Harley-Davidson WL (S/N 42-2136) military-specification motorcycle on a replica trailer. The WC51 is a first series ¾-ton version with the standard Weapons Carrier body on a 98-inch chassis. It has been thoroughly restored and impeccably detailed with appropriate accessories such as full embarkation equipment (shovel, axe, camouflage netting, jerry cans, armament cases, etc.) and presented in the colors of the 82nd Airborne division. The body is properly restored to represent the true quality of a mass produced military vehicle, the previous owner wisely avoiding over-restoration. Canvas on the cab roof and cargo bed is in excellent condition, again, appearing period correct without coming across as too new. The canvas seats, accessories and markings are highly authentic and accurately represented.
Towed behind the truck is a high quality replica trailer that was built using period photographs and documentation. It is very well constructed, down to the authentic spring-dampened pintle hitch and military-spec wheels. Some creative license was taken in its construction, but it has a very authentic feel, particularly in the details such as the jerry cans and ropes. The Harley Davidson WL was discovered years ago in a barracks, in a highly original state. The previous owner carefully restored the bike with just about every available accessory for the day, while still respecting the highly original condition.
The entire grouping of Dodge, Harley and trailer are authentically represented and in excellent condition. The truck runs very well, with the prodigious low-end torque (which peaks at 1000 RPM) of the 230 cubic inch inline six, making it easy and enjoyable to simply leave in top gear and cruise around. The cabin is authentically represented with basic canvas seat cushions, minimal instrumentation and simple controls. The cargo box has built-in benches for carrying the “troops” and the canvas covers on the cab and cargo box are removable. Likewise, the Harley is exceptionally tidy, clean and very well presented, down to the correct lamps, leather rifle holster and canvas “blackout” covers.
Such is the level of detail on this pairing that it is difficult to put into words, this amazing rig should be seen for the astounding presentation to be fully appreciated. This is a rare opportunity to acquire a real piece of World War II history, ideally suited for classic military gatherings, for enjoyment in the countryside or as a fascinating conversation piece in a collection of historically important vehicles.