Featured Classic

1957 Dodge D-100 Sweptside

Dodge had a problem.  They were a day late and a dollar short.  Late, because Chevy was already out of the gate with the dressy, upscale Cameo Carrier pickup (and Ford was soon to follow, with their half car/half truck Ranchero).  Short, because there wasn’t enough money on hand for anything more than a modest makeover.

At the time, Dodge’s share of the pickup truck market was a slim 7% - not exactly a profit center.  If cash was lacking, creativity was not.  Dodge’s Joe Berr found inspiration in a station wagon.  A two door Dodge Suburban, specifically, which supplied a set of long, sweeping tailfins that were fitted to a ½ ton truck with Custom Cab.  Mind you, these weren’t just any fins.  As we’ve seen, ’57 Chrysler products were sporting some of the Fifties flashiest fenders, thanks to Virgil Exner’s “Forward Look”.  The tall, graceful fins looked particularly dashing when grafted onto the long wheelbase pickup.  Berr, Manager of Dodge’s Special Equipment Group, orchestrated the facelift (which was really more of a tail lift, given the prominence of the fins).  Special chrome trim pieces were added to accent the striking side view, while up front, all ’57 Dodges had hooded, “frenched” headlights.  The Suburban’s rear bumper was pressed into service out back, as was the tailgate, though it had to be trimmed to fit.  The finished product was wrapped in a two-tone coat of paint and wide whitewalls were fitted at the corners.     


Owing to fiscal constraints, Sweptside’s magic was limited to show and not go.   Beneath the new sheet metal, it was business as usual for this Dodge.  Buyers could choose from either a 230 cid, 120 hp straight six or an optional, 315 cid/ 204 hp V-8.  Gear changing was handled by either a three speed manual or available, push-button, LoadFlite automatic transmission. 


More clothes horse than work horse, Sweptside, like the Chevy Cameo and Ford’s Ranchero, presaged pickups of half a century hence.  We think nothing of using trucks as grocery getters and city cruisers today.  But, back in the 50’s, high-style trucks with car-like comfort were largely unheard of.  Sweptside production continued in limited numbers through early ’59, when it was superseded by the Sweptline series.