Darin Schnabel ©2018, courtesy of RM Sotheby’s
While the Army’s light-vehicle needs in World War II were met by Willys and Ford Jeeps, heavier trucks were largely the purview of Dodge. Over the course of the war, some 700,000 vehicles in the VC and WC series, from ½-ton to 1½-tons, were delivered to U.S. forces. Most numerous are the WCs, a nomenclature commonly believed to derive from “Weapons Carrier.” In fact, it was Dodge’s own company designation, dating from 1941 and unchanged for the duration. This truck’s chassis number shows that it began life around April 1945 as a WC-52 “Truck, Cargo, ¾-ton, 4×4 w/Winch.” Michael Dingman purchased it in January 2000 from Green Valentine of Memphis, TN, a dealership operated by George Coleman. The previous owner was Tim Corliss of Sumner, WA, who had found it in 1995 in Fort Collins, CO, and restored it. At restoration, it was configured as a WC-58 Radio Car, with a Signal Corps Radio installed in the rear seat area and whip antenna on the left side (though, unfortunately, the radio has since been removed). This involved using the body from a 1943 WC-56 or WC-57 Command Car. The restoration took some five years, including the sourcing of hard-to-find parts.  

SCM Analysis


Vehicle:1945 Dodge WC-58 Command Car
Years Produced:1942–45
Number Produced:21,156 (all Command Car variants)
SCM Valuation:$21,874
Tune Up Cost:$200
Chassis Number Location:Data plate on the dashboard, plus ahead of the front tire on the side of the left frame rail
Engine Number Location:Pad on the driver’s side of the top of engine block, just below the cylinder head
Club Info:Military Vehicle Preservation Association (MVPA)
Alternatives:1946–68 Dodge Power Wagon, 1951–54 Dodge M42 military ¾-ton Command truck, 1951–64 Dodge M37 / M37B1 ¾-ton weapons carrier
Investment Grade:C

This truck, Lot 913, sold for $70,000, including buyer’s premium, at RM Auctions Dingman Collection sale in Hampton, NH, on June 23–24, 2018.

Rare variant?

The truck from the Dingman Collection is a major variant of the two basic types of WC series command cars from the G-502 family of ¾-ton Dodge trucks.

The major difference between the two is the winch. The WC-56 command and recon cars didn’t have one, while the WC-52 cargo trucks and WC-57 command cars came with a front-mounted PTO-driven Braden MU-2 winch that mounted to a longer chassis designed to support it. Since the chassis itself was different, adding a winch is extremely difficult.

The WC-58 radio truck was essentially a WC-56 (or 57, with winch) with additional wiring, heavier-duty generator, and mountings for radios to be installed behind the front seat. That’s the rarest of the WC command cars, at 2,344 units completed, and it’s what this was built up to be.

But the rarest variant isn’t worth significantly more than a standard command car. Most folks would prefer a standard command car without the added weight and higher center of gravity from wiring, bracketry, power supplies, and vacuum tube radios. Even if it’s just for display with gutted compartments for radios, most buyers would rather have the open back seat than all that gear.

This example only has one of the smaller radios installed and not the full complement of electronics.

Double market price

At the Dingman Collection auction, this truck sold for essentially double the price that one would expect it to bring on its best day in the market.

Now, before someone claims that it was a “state-of-the-art restoration,” the work was done nearly a quarter of a century ago and the truck has seen some use and is displaying patina from it — and it wasn’t “state of the art” even back then.

The restoration also used reproduction serial number and data tags. With no mention of the originals being included, and assuming they no longer exist due to the bits and pieces gathered for the restoration, there’s no premium associated with having the original tags. So, no, this isn’t a show queen or minty original that somehow managed to escape 74 years worth of use as a battle-ready government vehicle.

Rather, it started out as something else (a WC-52 weapons carrier) so it’s actually a replica WC-58. This result is purely a case of a truck being sold at the right place at the right time with the right crowd in the room.

Putting it in context, the only other historic military vehicle here, a 1943 Ford GPW, sold exceptionally well — also at essentially twice the usual market — at $42,650.

While one could easily dismiss the high price with, “If they can afford it and they like it, it should be fine,” that does nothing to affirm or establish the market. A perusal of periodicals that cater to the HMV collector’s market will indicate that a WC-57 in similar 2- to 3+ condition should trade hands between $20,000 to $35,000, between a seller who’s not under undue pressure to sell to a savvy buyer who has been searching for one. The value of a WC-58 with its full complement of equipment should bump those figures up by no more than 10% at best.

The premium of convenience

As the estate sale for a collector who had a keen eye for quality vehicles (and could afford to have them restored to that level), this well-publicized event conducted by a premium auction house drew in like-minded and well-funded collectors.

While the flathead V8-era Fords here were superbly restored, the two military vehicles from the collection were more along the lines of adjuncts and were a rung or two down in terms of condition and quality.

While they were offered early in the automotive portion of the sale — indeed, the GPW was the first vehicle offered — the previous day of selling vintage signs and collectibles at premium prices likely tempered the bidders.

This was also here for sale at no reserve, so if someone of means was here who had always been keen on this sort of vehicle, they’d be tempted to just bid until they got it. Throw at least one more bidder of the same mindset in the mix and the Red Mist usurps any established market value. Thus, in this rarified atmosphere, the buyer brought premium money for an above-average vehicle. ACC recognizes this happens, and the exceedingly high (and low) sales don’t factor in to our value calculations. While the owner of another WC-58 may claim this sale as “the new normal,” it’ll generally fall on deaf ears, as it’s just not the case in real-world historic military-vehicle circles.

Finally, while vintage 4x4s continue to do well in the market, post-war civilian models continue to outdo HMVs. In short, both may be rugged, but having some semblance of creature comforts and different colors rules the day.

I hope the new owner of this WC-58 does some research on this truck and adds the right equipment to make it correctly reflect how a WC-58 was equipped for battle, and then presents it as such. In the meantime, I’ll call this one well sold.


(Introductory description courtesy of RM Auctions.)

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