8 July 2014

Little Green Pickup

Back in 1953, a truck was a truck, and it was built to work hard and to last. Crew cabs, air conditioning, power accessories and, in most cases, special editions, were far into the future.

That all changed for Dodge in 1953 with a striking two-tone green “Spring Special” half-ton hauler to boost spring truck sales. The promotion must have worked on Idaho farmer Joe Buehler, who bought one from a dealer in Nampa.

The half-ton Dodge wasn’t big enough, however, so Joe traded it to father-in-law Clyde Little for a two-ton truck Clyde no longer needed. The Spring Special was a standard 1953 Dodge custom Series B-4-B half-ton pickup with the longer 116-inch wheelbase. Power came from a 100-horsepower, 217.8-cid L-head straight-six with 177 ft-lb. of torque at a low 1,600 rpm.

The cab was pure business, though it did have one sun visor, a heater and headliner, in addition to a bench seat wide enough for three adults. One drawback: The middle passenger was likely to have bruised knees from the lever for the four-speed transmission. For years, the two-tone green Dodge truck was the Littles' only mode of transportation, and Clyde drove it to work for the Bureau of Reclamation. Later, his youngest son, Jerry, learned to drive on it. His driving test in 1959 was memorable, because he had to parallel park it with the heavy manual steering.

In 1965, Clyde Little retired, moved to Idaho and bought a new Chevy. Two years later, the Littles returned to their native Arkansas and took both the Chevy and the green Dodge.

Before he died in 1981, Clyde gave the Dodge to son Bill, and it sat outside and deteriorated until Bill passed it to a nephew in the 1990s. The truck languished first in a chicken coop and later in a barn, until 2011, when Jerry had it hauled to his home in California. Jerry and his wife, Holly, started the restoration, although it was professionally painted and trimmed before Jerry and a friend completed it.

Resplendent in its original green livery, the Dodge is now stored safely in Jerry’s shop, occasionally shown and driven. This Spring Special may be in the autumn of its life, but 61 years and 43,000 miles later, it’s still a single- family truck.

3 Reader Comments

  • 1
    Raymond Pittam Redding, Ca. 96002 October 23, 2014 at 18:31
    Man, get that truck out of the shed and start driving it. I have had several dodges over the years as well as Studebaker's and other trucks and cars. My # 1, car today and of choice on the srtreets and highways around Redding California is a 1901 Oldsmobile Run about. I drive it everywhere. And whan I need to go farther I drive my 1950 Studebaker Bullit Nose champpion and stay right with the best of them going down the freeways. If I need a Truck and want to do any driving other than using the Truck I drive a 1951 StuderbakerR-12 3/4 Ton and built it into a woody Camper and pull my 1901 Oldsmobile behind it. OH yes I dio have a big V-10 Dodge Vampire 2500 Ram Pickup and a 2009 Buick Luverne but they are parked most of the time out in the back lot.
  • 2
    Tom Anderson Paonia, Colorado December 3, 2014 at 20:12
    I have a 1953 Dodge Spring Special with Fluid Drive. The truck is complete and ready for restoration. Truck is available for sale. Let me know if anyone is interested, because we are planning on starting restoration. Thank you.
  • 3
    sam epting nashville, tn January 7, 2015 at 19:50
    I have a 1955 town panel I need to move, just bought a 1953 chevy 5 window Have the complete history on the dodge tp, all original, gages all work. Let me know if interested. Great article on the "spring special" never knew that was offered.

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