This may be the oldest Dodge M37 truck in existence — the 13th one to be produced, to be exact. A review of the serial number history shows that it was manufactured January 10, 1951, based upon its serial number, 80006025.
According to TM9-1840C (Research Department Technical Manual), M-37 serial numbers 80006001 through 80006006 were assigned to the pilot M37s. Serial numbers 80006007 through 80006009 were given to the three M43 pilots. Serial numbers 80006010 and 80006011 were the first two production pilot M37s, completed on December 14 and 20, 1950, respectively.
CLUES IN THE SERIAL NUMBERS
M37 serial numbers can be found on the dashboard data plate. However, since these can be removed and/or replaced, the Serial number can also be found stamped on the vehicle frame in the front left wheel well. Lightly grind off the paint and rust on the frame forward of the front axle. There should be eight numbers. If there are only seven numbers, you have a pilot vehicle (prototype).
The first “actual production” M37 bore serial number 80006012 and was completed on January 2, 1951. The M37 featured here (with serial number 80006025) was completed just over a week later on January 10, 1951. 80006025 minus 80006012 equals 13. That means that this M37 is the 13th “actual production” off the assembly line!
HISTORY OF NUMBER 13
Being an early production vehicle, the truck featured here was most likely issued to the U.S. Army. At some point in its history, it was marked as surplus before being transferred to the North Carolina Road Department. There, it was painted yellow.
When the Road department, no longer had a use for it, it went to the Morehead City [North Carolina] Fire Department. The Fire Department painted the truck red and white and used it as a brush truck. When it was no longer able to turn over, the Fire Department sent the truck to the “bone yard.”
In 1987, two former Marines, myself and my trusty companion, Frank Brewer, were scouting the back roads and junkyards of eastern North Carolina where we discovered the abandoned M37 truck. The body was in excellent condition with no rust and no dings. The paint was peeling, exposing multiple colors, and the canvas was rotting. We determined that all it needed was a fuel pump to get it running.
After we purchased the vintage vehicle, we made the appropriate repair, and I have been driving it ever since. Because of my Marine heritage, I repainted the truck in Marine Corps colors. A yellow rotating beacon and siren have been added. Except for a new voltage regulator and paint, it is still in that original, “as-found” condition.
The truck has been in parades, military displays, and car shows. Back home on the farm, it has pulled many hay ride wagons.
As of July 2019, the 13th production M37 is still going strong (Including the tires that were on it when purchased in 1987). It is a testament to the durability of the Dodge M37
David lives in Thomson, Georgia, and would love to hear from anyone who has a M37 with a serial number lower than 80006025. Until then, he will claim the title of “Oldest M37.”
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