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The Last Powell Sport Wagon Truck Ever Built Is Getting Restored and You Can Help

When it comes to classic pickup trucks from the 1950s, we usually think about the second-generation Ford F-Series or the Chevrolet Task Force. But there were far more options to choose from back then.
1957 Powell Sport Wagon truck 7 photos
1957 Powell Sport Wagon truck1957 Powell Sport Wagon truck1957 Powell Sport Wagon truck1957 Powell Sport Wagon truck1957 Powell Sport Wagon truck1957 Powell Sport Wagon truck
The Dodge C Series is the first that comes into mind, but Willys and Kaiser also offered a truck version of the Jeep. However, no one really remembers the Powell Sport Wagon.

Well, given that the Powell Manufacturing Company built vehicles for only a few years, that's far from surprising. But the short-lived Sport Wagon is worth remembering because it introduced the car-based utility body style years before the Ford Ranchero and Chevrolet El Camino arrived in showrooms.

Founded by brothers Hayward and Channing Powell in 1926, the company manufactured radios in the early days but moved into scooter production in the mid-1930s. It started making lightweight motorcycles in 1949, before joining the automotive market in 1954.

Car production included only two models: a pickup truck called the Sport Wagon and an SUV sold as the Station Wagon. Both nameplates were discontinued in 1957, after only 1,500 units were built, so production was rather short-lived.

However, Powell's sole venture into the car market introduced two innovative ideas. First, the pickup was built on a car chassis and was smaller than the average 1950s truck, which means Powell entered the coupe utility segment three years before Ford did with the Ranchero in 1957.

Second, the company took an unusually different approach to cut production costs. Instead of making its own underpinnings, Powell used the chassis and drivetrain of the 1940-1941 Plymouth as a base for both the truck and the SUV.

Available in abundance in the junkyards of Southern California at the time, the Plymouth components were sourced for cheap, refurbished by an outside supplier, and then sent to the Powell factory to be paired to their new bodies and interiors.

To keep tooling costs to a minimum, Powell also went with stamped steel bodies devoid of compound curves, fiberglass front clips, and springless seats. Needless to say, the Sport Wagon wasn't a big hit and production ended after only 1,200 trucks were sold over three years. Come 2022, and these pickups have been forgotten and only a few of them are still around.

One of the lucky examples that survived landed in the Petersen Automotive Museum and it's a bit more special than the rest. That's because it's the last Powell pickup ever built. The museum wants to restore it and started a GoFundMe campaign to raise the cash.

It also released footage of the derelict vehicle, asking for help to put it back together and make it run again. It's unlike anything you've seen before, so make sure you check it out in the video below.

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