"something of an extraordinary nature will turn up..."

Mr. Micawber in Dickens' David Copperfield

Kit Foster's



December 1st, 2009

1959 Dodge Sweptside pickup - rear

Undoubtedly the most flamboyant of 1950s pickups, Dodge’s Sweptside was a clever innovation by one of America’s more conservative truck manufacturers. In the early years of the decade, Dodge pickups were upright and utilitarian, much more staid than the Advance Design Chevys and F-series Fords. Even a new greenhouse for 1955 didn’t shake off the “Backward Look” for which the trucks had been known, although a dressed-up Town Panel was available for upmarket businesses.

For 1957, the updated cab was mated to a Forward Look nose, but Dodge was still upstaged, for pickups lagged the competition in style. In 1955 Chevrolet had introduced the snazzy Cameo Carrier to complement its standard pickups. The Cameo covered the pickup’s bulbous haunches with gently-sculpted fiberglass panels. Dodge product planners responded with their own commercial version of the Exner look, the 1957 Sweptside pickup.

Implementation was deceptively simple. Steel side panels, complete with Swept Wing fins and taillights, were adapted from the station wagon line. The standard bed and tailgate were used.

Ford bypassed the prestige pickup phase entirely, bringing out its Styleside bed, with full-width cargo area, for 1957. International did likewise with the mid-1957 A (for “Anniversary”) Series.

Sweptside pickups were built in 1957, ’58 and ’59. By that time all makers were following Ford, Chevy having introduced the Fleetside pickup in 1958 and phased out Cameo production. Dodge followed suit in 1959 with the Sweptline pickup, and the last Sweptside was built that January.

Total Sweptside production is believed to be about 1,250, compared to more than 10,000 Cameos. It was a noble experiment, and can probably be considered a success, because, even though sales were few, engineering and tooling costs were minuscule.

This 1959 Dodge Sweptside was offered for sale in the 2009 Hershey Car Corral. A V8-engined, four speed truck, it had been driven but 31,000 miles. For less than $42,000, you could have driven it home.

Serendipity: n. An aptitude for making desirable discoveries by accident.
“They were always making discoveries, by accident and sagacity, of things they were not in quest of.”
Horace Walpole, The Three Princes of Serendip
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