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Homepage. This page: A chronological review of where this Dodge has been in the last 67+ years.

Dodge History - from the beginning

The Dodge Transporter was built in 1940, at the Dodge factory in Detroit, Michigan, but only as a chassis cowl, before being shipped to the UK. It started out life with the RAF MT (Military Transport) section during WW2, as a crew bus on a bomber base, then was converted into a race car transporter after the war. Here is a potted history of it's story to date.

Detroit, Michigan

Dodge plant In 1940, sheets of fresh new steel arrived at the Dodge plant, destined to be turned into brand new trucks, amongst it, steel that would go into this one Dodge which is the subject of this feature.
workers in the Dodge factory 1940
Workers from the surrounding area operated the presses, forming the flat sheet into wings, steps, and other panels that would make up this Dodge truck.

Dodges of varying size and rating were built alongside each other, some as vans, others as trucks, and others supplied as a chassis with cab
Dodge trucks on production line
, chassis with windscreen cowl, or perhaps just a chassis with flat cowl, excluding the screen assembly.
This VK was built as a "chassis with windshield cowl", as shown to the right, which included Dodge-built panels upto and including just above the screen, ready to be bodied by a coachbuilder....the VK62B variant was a revised version of the 3 ton VK model, featuring a 2nd fuel tank and other detail changes.... Dodge chassis cowl
1940/1941
My particular Dodge was part of a batch of 1500 chassis, originally destined to go to France for bodying there, and to be used by the military. However France was invaded by the Axis powers, and the order, or 'Contract Supply Mechanical' as these orders were referred to (in this case SM 2017), diverted to the UK instead. Whether all 1500 chassis were eventually supplied is open to debate, chances are around half this number was supplied in all. Some went to the British Army, and the others to the Royal Air Force (RAF). Army vehicles were bodied as GS cargo types, and those used by the RAF fitted out with a variety of coachwork options, including GS body, a lower platform body, a crewbus with separate Dodge cab, and finally a 'bus with integral coachbuilt cab. It is the latter that this VK62B was bodied as, by coachbuilder Mulliners of Birmingham, which is evident in the copies I have of the original design drawings for the 26 seater RAF crewbus.
Manual for the VK62-B showing SM 2017
Body design plans
RAF Dodge crewbus 1941-1945
During the war, the Dodge was used by the RAF on one or more bomber bases, ferrying crews out to their aircraft. Shown here are examples of Dodge crewbus. In 1944 some Dodges were converted into mobile classrooms, training aircraft maintenance crews.
Crewbus and C47
The photo above shows the back end of a Dodge, parked alongside a Douglas C47 transport aircraft (based on the civilian DC3 Dakota). Inside the truck you can make out the seats, and the drop-down cantilever step. Black-out blinds are fitted to the vehicle's windows.
1946/1947
After the war, many military vehicles were demobbed and sold off to civilian owners. The owner of my Dodge lived in the Southampton area, handy for Premier Group who were in Brighton, further up the south coast. Premier dealt in ex-military vehicles, so I think there is a good chance that this crewbus was sold via their offices. I'm told that the vehicles they sold were dusted over in matt sandy coloured paint prior to sale, as in the catalogue page shown here. This colour is visible beneath the top coat on my Dodge, supporting my theory that Premier handled its sale.

The catalogue shows a very similar Dodge VK62 crewbus, in this case with the separate rear body and standard Dodge-built cab, unlike mine which has an integral cab. Other vehicles listed include Chevrolets, Bedfords, and Commers.
Premier Group catalogue
Some examples of VK62B crewbuses in civilian use
Shown here are just two examples of Dodges that found new lives in civilian hands. One was used by Willment of Waterloo, for transporting road builders out to site, the other used by a travelling fairground, kitted out inside with chairs and even a fireplace! As far as I know no other examples survive of this type of vehicle - the fairground truck shown here was cut up in the 1960s (sob).
Willment construction Fairground transport
1947-1987 Dennis Poore buys a Dodge crewbus
Dennis Poore's Dodge
Anyway, Poore, who was ex-RAF himself, bought this Dodge (probably from Premier Group) in I think 1946/47 to transport his Alfa Romeo 8C-35 racing car. Previously he'd towed the Alfa to events behind a V8 Ford road car, but the Alfa was a bit of a weight for the poor old Ford to pull, hence the purchase of the Dodge. According to Bill Lawes, the team's chief mechanic, having the Dodge was a huge improvement over using the Ford.

Poore competed in many hillclimb, circuit and sprint race meetings in the late 1940s, through to 1955 when he hung up his racing gloves for good, to concentrate on his business interests. The photograph
Dodge and Alfa stored away
above shows the Dodge parked at some windswept airfield circuit, perhaps Silverstone. In the foreground is a Mercedes, with the Alfa 8C-35, car no. 130 parked alongside the Dodge. More information on Poore, and the car, will feature elsewhere in this restoration section soon. When Poore retired from racing, the Dodge, the trailer, the Alfa and all the spares, were carefully parked up in a building on his estate near Southampton, where they remained for many many years. I believe he did sell up and move house at some point (early 1970s?), and the vehicles were moved to a dry building at the family's new residence. Everything remained stored away until Poore passed away, in February 1987. By this time, the Dodge's paintwork had faded from its once shiny dark green, to a powdery bluey-green, and the bodywork naturally had begun to deteriorate despite favourable storage conditions.
1988 Christie's Monaco Sale
In 1988 the entire team effects were auctioned off at a sale in Monaco - the car, the Dodge, the trailer, and all the associated parts. They were bought by a well-known racer of historic motorcars. My understanding is that the Dodge went to be displayed for some time at the Grand Prix museum at Donington Park, in the entrance foyer. The Alfa Romeo would subsequently change hands a number of times over the following years, finally being stripped and repainted before returning to competitive use with its new owner in the USA, where it still lives today.
Dodge at Donington 1990s
The photograph here was sent to me by someone who remembers seeing the Dodge on display, parked alongside a Maserati single seater. Interestingly it still had the canvas side cover rolled up and fixed to the roof - this would roll down over the side frame, that hinged out to provide a covered working area for the mechanics at a race meeting.

At some point the Dodge was moved outside, which is where I first saw it parked in 1995.

1995 onwards
Since '95, when I took on this large project, I've stored this big old machine in a number of storage areas, until such time as I could accomodate it at home. Initially it was collected, towed away and parked up safely in a dry barn in Poynton, Cheshire.

December 1995
By this time the bodywork was starting to show its age. The picture below shows it being collected by a 1946 Foden recovery wagon. The original team sponsor livery is still visible fortunately - SU Fuel Pumps on the back door, and Dunlop Tyres, plus Lodge Plugs, down the side.
Collecting the Dodge in 1995
My aim has always been to keep it in dry storage, until such time as restoration could start in earnest. The enclosed streamlined trailer, which can trace its roots prior to WW2, when Poore raced an MG, was collected shortly afterwards. The history of this unique high-speed trailer, is now described here.
Picking up the trailer
May 2001
The Dodge and trailer had to be moved in 2001, due to the farm site being lined up for a housing development. Many interesting old commercial vehicles were parked at this farm, on Towers Lane in Poynton, and had to be relocated elsewhere. I found a new place to store the Dodge in an old hangar, so once again the old 'bus was on the move.

Thanks to David and Christine, who moved it for me and have helped me out over the years. The photo shows the truck loaded up, ready to set off from the farm.
Dodge move from Poynton
Dodge move from Poynton The Dodge was delivered to the hangar, and parked up in the corner, where work began on stripping the front end panelwork, all the while still hunting down parts to fit this unusual 3 ton variant.

Unfortunately the Dodge was turfed out of its new storage hangar by the site management in 2003, much to my disgust, and left outside to the elements on a patch of grass. This was totally unsatisfactory, so we decided to move house, and buy somewhere with enough room for the Dodge to be parked at home, rather than relying on others for storage.
February 2004
With a house purchased, that fortunately had a sizeable garage, it was time to get the Dodge moved yet again so that finally I could control how the truck would be stored. David and Christine did the move for me once more, this time using the latter's large DAF lorry.

I'm sometimes think that collecting toy trucks instead would be a lot easier, and cheaper!!
Dodge brought home
Dodge in the garage June 2004
The garage roof structure required modification, in order that the 9' high Dodge could fit inside, so it spent a few months carefully sheeted up in the driveway, until such time as Dave, the local handy blacksmith, could do the mods required to the roof and front doors of the garage. The Dodge finally drove (yes Drove!!) into the garage in June 04.

A shelter was built down the bottom of the garden to accomodate the trailer, and that was safely parked under cover too.
2004-2007
After being stored at home, with work taking place on it sporadically between other projects, it was decided that we should bite the bullet, and farm out the restoration of the Dodge to a professional company. A couple of years ago I had the front wings professionally refurbished by a local gent who is a time-served panelbeater, at one time working for Rolls Royce on their body rectification line. He did a brilliant job repairing the front wings. But now it was time to arrange getting the entire vehicle sorted out. So much time and effort had been spent storing, moving, and protecting the Dodge from the elements, that it seemed right to go the next step and pay to have it restored properly.

A local company showed great interest in tackling the Dodge, understanding my wish for it to be restored sympathetically and to how it would have looked when used by R.D. Poore, so plans were hatched in March 2007 to make this happen. The restoration as it takes place will be documented in this Dodge Restoration section here at oldclassiccar over the coming months. I am always on the lookout for parts to suit this 3 ton Dodge, and am keen to find more photographs showing the Dodge, in the 40s and 50s, through to the 1990s. If you can help at all, please drop me a line via the contact page.

The final photo on this page, shows the Dodge being delivered to the restoration firm in April 2007 - another farm, another recovery truck!!!!!

I must thank Lid', my patient other half, for putting up with me and this mad project. Fortunately she's as mad as I am when it comes to old lorries and pickups, which helps a great deal :-)
Dodge move yet again
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