1942 Dodge WC54 Comes Out of Long-Term Storage, It's a WWII Time Capsule

1942 Dodge WC54 ambulance 9 photos
Photo: AlaskaTrucker/YouTube
1942 Dodge WC54 ambulance1942 Dodge WC54 ambulance1942 Dodge WC54 ambulance1942 Dodge WC54 ambulance1942 Dodge WC54 ambulance1942 Dodge WC54 ambulance1942 Dodge WC54 ambulance1942 Dodge WC54 ambulance
When talking about military vehicles from World War II, we tend to favor the ones that haul the big weapons or the massive 6x6 trucks like the GMC CCKW. But what about military ambulances? These vehicles not only saved troops but also got injured civilians out of harm's way. The Dodge WC54 is one of those hero haulers.
Introduced in 1942, the WC54 was part of the Dodge WC series that Chrysler began producing in 1940. The lineup included light four-wheel-drive and medium 6x6 military-spec utility trucks, all of which were manufactured by Dodge/Fargo. With about 337,500 4WD vehicles built, Dodge was the U.S. Army's main supplier of 1/2-, 3/4-, and 1 1/2-ton trucks in World War II.

After the war, Dodge developed the 3/4-ton WC series into the civilian Power Wagon that we all know today. The military WC was replaced by the M-Series in 1951.

The WC54 went into production in 1942 as the standard U.S. Army ambulance. Fitted with roof-mounted slings and folding bench seats, it provided room for four stretchers or six seated patients. Dodge built about 26,000 such trucks until 1944, followed by 3,500 units of the slightly updated WC-64 in 1945. The latter was shipped as a knock-down kit.

All these trucks were powered by a 230-cubic-inch (3.8-liter) inline-six engine rated at 76 horsepower and mated to a four-speed manual transmission. The engine was capable of pushing the WC54 at speeds of up to 54 mph (87 kph).

The WC54 served as the U.S. Army's main dedicated ambulance during World War II (alongside multi-purpose Jeeps). But it was also used by the U.S. Army Medical Corps in the Korean War (1950-1953).

Used by the U.S. military and its allies, it remained in service long after the Korean War in several countries, including France, the United Kingdom, Norway, and Sweden.

Come 2022 and the Dodge WC54 ambulance is an iconic vehicle from this period and remains highly sought after by collectors. But while some of them have survived the wars they've gone through, many WC54s require restoration to become road-worthy again.

The WC54 you see below is one of those rare examples that was refreshed and kept in proper storage over the years. It's by no means perfect and it looks more like a survivor than a Concours-ready rig, but that's exactly what makes it special. It's pretty much a time capsule from World War II.

The truck rarely comes out of storage, but this footage from "AlaskaTrucker" proves that the ambulance can still handle road trips. And the inline-six mill still runs smooth, despite being 80 years old.

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About the author: Ciprian Florea
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Ask Ciprian about cars and he'll reveal an obsession with classics and an annoyance with modern design cues. Read his articles and you'll understand why his ideal SUV is the 1969 Chevrolet K5 Blazer.
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