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1999 Dodge Power Wagon concept car: extreme looks, big diesel

by David Zatz

Some concept cars test specific ideas; others test the look of an entire vehicle. The 1999 Dodge Power Wagon was probably a mix of both; some of its styling continued in other concepts and small parts went into production. The Daimler part of DaimlerChrysler was pushing “clean diesel” hard at the time.

1999 Dodge Power Wagon concept car

The Power Wagon was an extreme version of the 1993 Ram 1500’s “big rig” look, overall. Similar but cheaper tail-lights were on the Dodge Nitro.

rear lights of Power Wagon

Head of Advanced Design Trevor Creed wrote that the goal was to create “more of a ‘Sharper Image’ truck than an everyday work truck,” rather ignoring the original Power Wagon. Creed also talked about “contrasting finishes of brushed aluminum, European ash wood and raw steel” and “a mechanical tailored look as well as an honest simplicity.”

Dodge Power Wagon 1999 concept car interior

The 1999 Power Wagon concept’s cab was similar in size to the Dakota Club Cab. The rear doors, likely taken from the Ram Quad Cab, were “suicide doors” with rear hinges. They provided more access to the rear storage area; there were no rear seats. Drawers were built into the back of the front seats. The power-actuated tailgate was a clever idea which never made it into regular pickup production.

The engine was a direct-inject 7.2 liter diesel which they claimed produced 780 pound-feet of torque. The engine ran on a “clean, sulphur-free ‘designer’ fuel” being jointly developed with Syntroleum, according to Engineering Technologies Senior Vice President Bernard Robertson.

clean diesel boasting

Daimler used the concept release to push diesel engines as a clean alternative, which in retrospect was rather ironic.

high pressure diesel with after treatment

High pressure fuel injection was nothing new for diesels, but exhaust after-treatment was then a fairly new idea; diesel exhaust fluid would later become mandatory.

The concept’s exterior designer, Mark Allen, said that before they brought a 1946 Power Wagon into the studio, they’d thought it was huge; but compared to the 1999 concept, the classic Power Wagon seemed positively small. The concept stood at 77 inches, three inches taller than the 1999 Ram 4x4 pickup; the classic Power Wagon was around 76 inches tall when loaded, with just over eight inches of ground clearance (around 10 inches with optional 9x16 tires).

Power Wagon 1950 1999
Length 199 207
Width 79.5 79.9
Height 76 77
Wheelbase 126 138.7
Curvb Weight n/a 5,357

The Power Wagon used a Ram 1500 frame with a steel body. The front and rear suspensions were Ram/Jeep style link/coil designs—the front taken from Ram 1500 geometry, the rear from Jeep Grand Cherokee. Viper brake calipers clamped on vented rotors. The 7.2 liter straight-six diesel was rated at 250 horsepower, with a cast iron block and head. The transmission was the Mopar 47RE four-speed automatic, with a New Process Gear NP242 transfer case and power takeoff unit. The front axle was a Dana 44, and the rear was a Chrysler 9.25 inch, with a 3.9:1 ratio. The aluminum wheels were 29x9.5, according to the press release, which listed the tires as LT295/70R19—suggesting a typo in the press release (19x9.5 wheels were more likely). The original Power Wagon, for reference, came with 16x7.5 wheels.

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