What started out as a back-yard custom built with spare parts became what Chrysler called “the prettiest truck ever built.” It is amazing that the 1957 Dodge D100 Sweptside Pickup turned out as well as it did. Faced with competition from Chevrolet and Ford with their Cameo Carrier and Ranchero, Chrysler felt it had to come up with a sports truck design. So they sent their Specialty Equipment Group manager out to the parts bin to cobble something together. What he came up with is an iconic design for the ages.
This week in the Cars-On-Line.com Classic Pickup Truck Section a very rare 1957 Dodge D100 Sweptside Pickup was listed for sale by Fast Lane Classic Cars in St Charles, Missouri. (Click this link to find dozens of detailed photos.) This truck is so rare we have never before done a story on one here in the My Dream Car.online blog. It is one of only 180 Sweptside pickups which were produced by Dodge that year. Never mass produced on the Dodge assembly line, they were all hand-built in the Special Equipment Section of the plant.
Back in the day, a work truck was a farm truck, ready to shoulder the heavy loads and tough enough to bang around on dirt roads. But in 1955 Chevrolet recognized that people were beginning to use pickup trucks differently and also recognized the need for creature comforts in their rugged old workhorses. Chrysler recognized that the pickup truck was becoming a family passenger vehicle and broke the mold when they designed the D100 Sweptside in 1957.
“Straight Out of Tomorrow” is how Chrysler described it in their promotions. The wind swept aero-dynamic rear fins were borrowed from the Dodge station wagon. This was accomplished by taking the quarter-panels from a Dodge 2-door wagon including the high tail fins. It was an emblem of the “Forward Look” at Chrysler. Also included were Chrysler innovations like the pushbutton LoadFlite transmission available on their passenger cars. Plus, 12-volt electrical systems became standard issue.
The truth is … Chrysler couldn’t compete with Chevrolet’s Cameo Carrier in a production sense. So they hand built the D100 Sweptside with “off the shelf” parts. The Special Equipment Sales manager borrowed a set of rear fenders from a Dodge two-door wagon, and had them welded to a Dodge half-ton pickup. They had to cut down the tailgate to match the custom fenders, and ran the chrome trim forward. Then they bolted a station wagon bumper on the back. The front fenders were pulled forward similar to the look of the passenger cars with hooded headlamps. For the first time in Chrysler’s history the pickup’s hood was a one-piece lid hinged at the cowl. (Older pickups had two-piece flaps hinged done the center.)
Our iconic Sweptside pickup from Fast Lane Classic Cars has a 315 ci Dodge Hemi V8 with a 2-barrel carburetor, 3-speed push button automatic transmission, 8 3/4 rear end, power steering, 15” steel wheels with correct hubcaps and wide whitewall tires.
No renderings or clay modeling was needed to build the Sweptside pickups. Yet, it seems, the Dodge Special Equipment Group came up with modern styling that out-Cameo’d the Chevrolet competition. The Special Equipment Group was sort of an in-house customizing shop established to modify production trucks in order to meet the needs of individual or fleet customers. Dodge added the two-tone paint design. The one pictured here has a red and white bench seat interior and a wood bed.
But Chrysler did not include some important extras. New truck buyers would have to pay extra for an automatic transmission, the 315 ci Hemi V8, deluxe cab with wraparound rear window, power steering and power brakes.
The D100 Sweptside was available through 1959. However they never sold well. It seems that Dodge was just content to prove they were as good at sport truck styling as their competition. They are so rare today that they command a premium collector value.