This is an interesting one-off, an image found by John Zentmeyer and now in Dave Butler’s collection at Vintage Power Wagons, so thanks to both ofthem.
The production runs of the Dodge military T202 and T203 series half and 1.5 ton trucks were approximately Easter to September 1940, but the factory records show that sixteen T202 VC truck chassis were run off earlier than that, presumably September to December 1939. We have those chassis numbers as 8,599,901 to 8,599,916, and this has to be one of them.
The truck in the photo is undoubtedly a T202 series VC military 4 x4 prototype, with typical VC brushguard, tow hooks, and 1939-40 five lug Budd disc wheels, pictured outside the brand new Chrysler Mound Road plant in late 1939. The reflectors are the marbled King Bee Foto-Ray No.295 types.
In 1939 Dodge did not have their own cabover setup, so contractors like Montpelier and Metropolitan produced stepdowns like these, mostly wooden framed. The extra Tri-Master ventilatoron the top means it would have been an ambulance, which were normally better ventilated and more softly sprung than cargo trucks, and longer than the usual 116” wheelbase. The stepdown bodies were already available for the 120” one ton Dodge civilian chassis, so it’s a good guess that this truck was 120” wheelbase too.
It would have been supplied to the Aberdeen Proving Ground for testing, but was not approved for series production – at a guess the wooden body just would not stand up to the sort of use the military would give it. A larger military 4 x 4 T203 series ambulance based on the ordinary steel 1.5 ton panel truck body was produced that year, but only in a very small quantity.
It would be one more year before Wayne Works bodies appeared on half and ¾ ton WC ambulances, supplemented by Chrysler’s own knockdown ambulance body late in the war.
1940 Dodge Military Survivors List;
1940 Dodge Military VC Production;