This 1941 Dodge WC needs no introduction to you, does it? Chances are pretty good that if the truck wasn’t in the photos, you would know exactly where I was at and who I was standing near. For anyone who doesn’t know, this is “Sgt. Rock”, and it’s the culmination of over a decade of Stacey David’s vision and hard work. But that isn’t even the half of what this truck means to the man we watched on television…this truck goes back even further than the day he drug it out of the weeds in Idaho.
First, you have to understand the history of this truck: it was one of the 79,771 trucks made under a War Department contract and is from one of the early half-ton (1940-42) production runs…the downward-sloping nose is the feature that gives this away. It served dutifully in the States and in the European theatre of operations, but at one point had to be sent home for repairs, during which the originally open-topped truck gained a roof, to be come a full cab, before it returned to service.
After the war, there was a flood of surplus vehicles and the WC was one of the trucks that managed to find a new home and a new life. For $100, Friedman Memorial Airport in Hailey, Idaho adopted the Dodge and put it to work as a heavy-duty plow truck in 1955. For years, the WC would be the airport’s workhorse, with it’s plow and tire chains, waiting for the snow. While most people probably didn’t give the old military truck much of a thought in passing, a young Stacey David did. As a kid, whenever the family car passed by the airport, he would be peering out of the window to get a good look at the old yellow truck that didn’t look like anything else on the road. The idea was set: Stacey would have to have a truck like this at some point in his life.
After years of work that saw him evolve into a custom vehicle builder and television personality, the memory of the old Dodge at the airport proved to be too much to ignore and he started nosing around for a suitable truck to build. During a discussion with his father, he learned that there was a potential candidate truck sitting in Belleview, Idaho that might be of interest. Turns out that the old airport plow truck had been sold off, replaced with a brand-new tractor, and had managed to evade the scrapyard. Time hadn’t been kind to the WC…after years of being used and abused, it wasn’t in the greatest condition, but that didn’t matter, considering the plan that Stacey had in store.
Just from the name, it’s immediate that there is still a strong military correlation, and that isn’t by accident. Stacey wanted the Dodge to pay tribute to the military in some way with the former plow truck, and went out of his way to make sure that wasn’t lost in translation. Sure, it’s a massive truck, one with an absolutely beastly big-block Chrysler under the hinged hood, and it sits about as tall as a modern-day LMTV, but you have to look at the details and know certain stories behind why a certain part was chosen, or why something was done the way it was done.
Ever since I first got the opportunity to shoot photos at the Rattletrap Productions studio, the one thing I’ve noted about Stacey is that he is a man of details when it comes to the vehicles. Most of those details tend to get lost when viewing the vehicle overall, but it’s also those little details that make the difference when you look at a vehicle. Many people are quick to jump on the fact that Sgt. Rock has taken a bit over a decade to complete. While other projects have taken time away from finishing the big Dodge, Stacey views the time invested as a necessity: with a vehicle project as in-depth and as ambitious as Sgt. Rock has been, you do not want to cut corners, cheap out, or hurry the work. There is a craftsmanship involved that Stacey holds dear, that he hopes will inspire others as they work in their garages.
Ok, we know that you’re here to see the truck, so let’s get to it. There are tons of details to this truck…you ought to see the entire parts list alone!…but for the sake of brevity, we will touch on some of the more notable modifications: