1958 Dodge Sweptside
By: James Mays
Dodge dealers right across the country were in the dumps in 1957. While Ford and
Lincoln-Mercury offered the snazzy new Ranchero pickup on its showroom floors and
Chevrolet-Oldsmobile dealers were fielding the attractive Cameo Carrier, Dodge and DeSoto dealers had nothing with pizzazz in the pickup line to tempt customers.
To make matters worse there was no product in the MoPar pipeline to make dealers feel better. They wanted a competitive product and they began to put the heat on the head office for an upscale pickup.
Fortunately Dodge Truck had a secret weapon in its Special Equipment Group. The SEG was a small but very perceptive band of specialists. They existed solely to meet customers' special needs. Tire sizes could be changed or a diesel engine might replace a gasoline powerplant. SEG's duty was to make sure that no truck sale was lost to the competition.
Joe Barr managed the SEG team in the mid-'Fifties. He knew that Dodge needed to compete in the pretty boy pickup market and that the product would have to cost virtually nothing in the way of tooling. He requisitioned a pair of rear fenders and a back bumper from a
two-door Dodge Suburban wagon and mated them to a standard half-ton D100 Custom cab. A
two-tone paint scheme, plenty of chrome, full wheel covers and smart white walls made the transformation complete.