By Vern Parker
Doug Bonaro has discovered the most profitable – and some say best – way to acquire an antique vehicle. Buy it already restored.
The Air Force veteran had already reworked a vintage muscle car and although he turned a profit selling it, he decided to get smart. His next car was going to be an already restored pickup truck.
On the way to his Waldorf, Md., home after visiting his parents in Myrtle Beach, S.C., Bonaro stopped at a gasoline/restaurant/rest stop on Route 95 in North Carolina. It proved to be a fateful rest stop.
In the lobby of the food court was a bright red Dodge Power Wagon positioned, Bonaro describes, as atop a small mound of boulders. He was so taken with the truck on display that he turned to his wife, Susan, and declared, “That's it!”
It took a while for him to find his dream vehicle.
Upon returning home Bonaro electronically began searching for information on “a real man's truck.”
He found there was a site dedicated exclusively to Dodge Power Wagons and their helpful aficionados.
For more than half a year Bonaro visited the electronic site daily in the hope that his perseverance would be rewarded.
Finally, he found a 1955 Dodge Power Wagon advertised for sale. The vehicle was located in upstate New York near Buffalo and had been restored. It was a “Flat Fender” model that in photographs appeared to be in excellent condition, so in the first week of November, 2011, Bonaro purchased the yellow Power Wagon with black fenders without actually having seen the vehicle.
Arrangements were made to have the Dodge trucked home. On the day that the delivery truck approached the destination where it was to rendezvous with Bonaro, the anxious owner was racing home from his job and he actually saw his Power Wagon on the 18-wheeler delivering the vehicle.
They met at a predetermined place where the Dodge was unloaded and after a quick instruction period concerning double clutching Bonaro drove his prize home. There were no surprises once the Dodge was at home. It rolled home on gigantic 9.00x16-inch tires on a 126-inch wheelbase supporting a 9,500-pound vehicle.
“It's a beastly truck,” Bonaro observes. The heavy machine is propelled by a 230-cubic-inch, flathead six-cylinder engine that delivers 87 horsepower.
In order to keep the power flowing to the 16.5-foot-long vehicle, 17 quarts of coolant are required. The owner finds that the capacity of the 18-gallon gasoline tank is on the small side. Beneath the oil-bath air cleaner is a down-draft carburetor. Bonaro reports the previous owner converted the 6-volt electrical system to a 12-volt system.There is only a single Power Take-Off unit on the vehicle which operates the winch which is rated at a 7,500-pound capacity.
Inside the cab of the truck is a plethora of floor-mounted levers controlling two separate gear ratios, brakes, and four-wheel-drive among others. Bonaro says the inside width of the cab of his Dodge is only 54 inches while the outside dimension of the cab is 65 inches.
While sitting behind the three-spoke steering wheel Bonaro can see the 80 mph speedometer and the odometer which has recorded about 35,000 miles, a total that he believes is accurate.
The overhead windshield wipers are electrically operated. On the dashboard is a knob that can be twisted to open the bottom of the windshield. If that does not permit enough fresh air into the cabin a cowl ventilator can be pushed open.
Bonaro says that despite the optimistic numbers on the speedometer, the actual top speed of his truck is closer to 42 or 43 mph.
As for all the fresh air accommodations, Bonaro says his Dodge does not have one of the optional extras, a heater.
“From the heat of the engine,” He says, “You don't need it.