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Australian Pilot-house Style Trucks

I have tried to piece together a brief history of the Pilot-house style Dodge trucks in Australia. Some information has come from workshop and parts manuals, other info comes from sticking my head into every truck of this type I have seen since my father brought a used one, some forty years ago. I will not state that it is all 100% correct, but it should give you a guide when combined with the brochures as to the history of these trucks in Australia.

Initially the information below deals with the 108 range of trucks.

As time allows I intend to add more info, hopefully including photograph’s, to cover full range of these trucks.

If anyone has any information, remarks or comments they would like to pass on I would appreciate it. I can usually be found lurking around GTK`s www.pilot-house.com. forum or email me at bts53@bigpond.net.au

From 1948 until early 53 Chrysler Australia imported their Pilot-house truck line from Canada in a knock down form and assembled them here. (Not sure what form that took)

They were sold under the Dodge and Fargo name. The Fargo name seems to be the most predominate I have seen on trucks of this time period.

DE-FM 48,49 Eng, T143 (3 3/8 x 4 1/16, 218.06 cu”) All engines fitted
DF-FN 50 Eng, T173 (3 3/8 x 4 1/16, 218.06 cu”) in Australian are

Examples of chassis numbers 90080286, 90086233 long blocks (25”)
108 model available as Standard Utility, only.
GVW 4850 lbs

When in 1951-53, the Canadian (DG-DH, FO-FP) and US (B3-B4) models changed the hood, grille panel, grille and doors, Australia did not.

Our model continued on the same as the 1950 model, though it carried the DG-FO Identification. (I think the panels were still pressed in Canada? not sure!) DG-FO

51 to early 53 Eng, T307 (3 3/8 x 4 1/16, 218.06 cu”)

Examples of Chassis numbers on these imports were 90093538, 9010281371C
51-52 available as Standard Utility only.
From late 52 until May 53, the model range increased to included Standard Ute, Panel Van and Tray top.
GVW 4850 lbs No DH- FO model.

From May 53 Chrysler Australia, commenced production of the Pilot-house range of trucks, at their Keswick plant, in Maple Avenue, South Australia.

The body style stayed the same as the earlier (1950) import models.
They were sold under the names, Dodge, Fargo and Desoto.
All trucks were the same, just the badges changed. (Badge engineering)

The Serial Number Plate (vin #) was stamped to denote which brand name was to be used i.e.,

108A D is a Dodge
108A F is a Fargo
108A S is a Desoto
It is not uncommon to find a serial plate saying one thing and the badging saying another.

Apparently if a customer wanted a particular brand name and body style and it was not in stock, the local dealer would just take the badging of another truck to match what the customer wanted. (Customer service or what) Dodge and Fargo are the most common names seen for this time period. Desoto badged trucks are very rare.

May 1953 to July 1955,108 A and B

The 108 A was a carry-over from the Canadian import model. The A model used the earlier Canadian steering parts, and Canadian chassis. The B model used a different steering box (fore-aft motion) and tie rod system, and the chassis were locally produced.

All body panels were now produced in Australia.
All models had the electrical system changed from the 6V Autolite system to a 12V Lucas positive earth system.
Both A and B models 108`s, until early 54, came with three engine choices.

All long blocks. (25”)

T307 =218.06 (3 3/8 x 4 1/16)
T311 =228 (3 3/8 x 4 ¼)

Kew 2B =250.06 (3 7/16 x 4 ½ Usually called 251cu”, in Australia)
From early 54 on, all 108`s were fitted with a KEW-2B, 251” standard.
The 108 GVW was increased from 4850 lbs to 5250 lbs.

Model range included
108A Standard (1068 produced, model ended July 1954) available as-Standard Ute only.
108B Deluxe (5697 produced) available as- Standard Ute, Deluxe Ute, Tray Top, Panel Van, Suburban (Panel Van with windows, single seat, bench seat, 3 seats), and Express.

The words, standard and deluxe, after 108 are used as a way to distinguish between the A and B models only. There is no difference in the cab options.
Australia used (from 48) the cab with door vent windows and rear three windows. In Canada and the US this would be called a custom cab. To my knowledge we never had the single rear window cab.
There is however a large difference between the Standard Ute and the Deluxe Ute in the108B (C, D, E, F) model line. The Deluxe Ute was also called the Coupe Ute.

Aug 1955 to Aug 58, 108 C and D

(This model is also referred to in the parts manuals as the face lift model) The cab was slightly modified to fit a one-piece front window, and the grille panel and grille were changed.
Hood ornament and front name badge changed.
These modifications as you can see are a flow on from the Us-Canada 1954 changes, although we still use the Pilot-house body.
All engines Kew 2B, 251”
Model range included - Standard Ute, Deluxe Ute, Tray Top, Panel Van, Suburban and Express.

Aug 1958 and 59 108 E

All trucks now are sold under the Dodge banner. Fargo and Desoto names were discontinued. The only cosmetic change was the grille, from a two bar to one bar, across the front.
Brakes were upgraded to 12”. Engine was still the 251”, the prefix now TE 1.
Though the large trucks (20,000 lbs GVW) received the V8 motor, they were never available in the 108-model range.
The 108 GVW increased from 5250 lbs to5500 lbs
Model range included - Standard Ute, Deluxe Ute, Tray Top, Panel Van, Suburban and Express

1960, 61 108F
Again the grille panel was changed. This time twin headlights were added, and a large chrome grille piece.
Engine still the TE 1, 251”. Model range included - Standard Ute, Deluxe Ute, Tray Top, Panel Van, Suburban and Express.

1962 The Pilothouse range was still being sold; but it was the end of the line.
The new AT4 line up had arrived. (Australian built. There was to be another badge engineering effort in this model range beween Dodge and International)

Tony Buckley
Western Australia.


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55 - 58 Fargo Trucks 1955 - 1958 Fargo Trucks
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53 - 55 Fargo Trucks 1953 - 1955 Fargo Trucks
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There are many more Dodge and Fargo truck manuals and brochures in the Knowledge Section