1957 Dodge Sweptside

Amid the many eye-catching cars and trucks on display at the 2008 Mopars of Brevard swap meet and show in Melbourne Florida was this striking 1957 Dodge Sweptside pickup. A half-ton series truck that was available with a choice of engines, the model is best known for its hooded headlights and tailfins designed to mimic the appearance of sister Dodge station wagons of the era.

Chief stylist Virgil Exner’s Forward Look design language finally took shape for the 1957 model year with the introduction of this all-new body that was longer, lower and wider than any previous Dodge pickup. The new trucks were marketed as the D100 through D300 series and were offered in half-ton to one-ton rated models. Exner’s sleek designs featured massive sweeping fins and chrome trim that gave the trucks a jet-like appearance.

To accommodate the increased size of the trucks the front windshield was moved three inches forward, giving the new models a very modern, futuristic look. The new cabs also were larger and more roomy.

Compared to the half-ton models, the one-ton trucks had a wider track and a shorter wheelbase. Power for the new trucks came from either a 285-horse single four-barrel or, for those with serious needs, a 325-horse Hemi engine.

As a nod to GM’s growing fin fetish the trucks were topped by a pair of delta-shaped tailfins that were smartly angled a few degrees outward from vertical (whereas GM fins were normally oriented straight up). The trucks were offered in four different colors, including this white example with blue highlights.

This WC Power Wagon appears to have been restored in the past, though it is not without its faults. Some of the doors and fenders need to be bent back into shape and some of the wood in the bed is worn away from repeated use, but it’s still an excellent-looking truck. Unique chrome details, like the fishtail exhaust tips and 15-inch wheels with bullet hub covers, highlight the standard two-tone paint. A Lecarra half-wrapped steering wheel and VDO gauges complete the package.

The WC’s basic construction is quite solid and it’s no surprise that Dodge built these models to last for so long. In fact, they were so popular with fleets that a special division called the Special Equipment Group was set up to assist them in customizing and building trucks for specific applications. SEG would yank the station wagon stampings from the production line and adapt them to the pickup frames, then trim and attach them with all the necessary hardware to create the specialized trucks.

It was a successful strategy and this model continued to be produced through 1975, even after other Dodge light-duty trucks switched to the more modern D series designation. In the late 1970s, Dodge shifted its focus to high-performance cars like the Charger R/T and Super Bee that helped it establish itself as a player in the muscle car market. But the trucks remained an important part of its lineup, and they are now becoming more desirable than ever.