My how things change! In 1929, a loaf of bread cost a whopping 9 cents. The average price for a gallon of gasoline, 24 cents, was less than half the price of a gallon of milk (58 cents). 1929 also marked the first full year Dodge was in Chrysler possession. At the time, the first-ever half-ton pickup truck designed entirely by Chrysler engineers—the 1929 Dodge Brothers Merchants Express—would set you back a little over $500, not much more than the cost today of many modern bicycles.
The $525 price tag for this truck might not seem as insignificant when you consider that the average annual income in 1929 was only around $1500. But don’t be fooled—according to the Walter P. Chrysler museum, the 1929 Dodge Merchants Express was “the least expensive commercial chassis offered by Dodge up to this time.” Furthermore, “this pleasingly styled, practical little pickup was the cornerstone of a truck line that was fourth in sales nationally, with models up to three-ton capacity.”
And no matter how modest the inline L-head 4-cylinder 45 horsepower engine seems today, it, like all the other physical attributes of this truck (see below), helped pave the way for the comparatively impressive engineering of today’s modern Ram Trucks. From the award-winning 2013 Ram 1500, to the all-new 2014 ProMaster, to the Ram 5500 Chassis cab, every vehicle that today can boast a Ram nameplate owes a small debt of gratitude to this half-ton pioneer from the late 1920s.
1929 Dodge Brothers Merchants Express | Vehicle Specs
- Wheelbase: 110 in.
- Length: 168 in.
- Weight (chassis): 1,950 lbs.
- Engine: Inline L-head 4-cylinder
- Horsepower: 45
- Displacement: 175 cubic in. (2.9L)
- Bore/stroke: 3.625 in. x 4.25 in.
- Compression ratio: 4.6: 1
- Transmission: 3-speed manual
- Suspension: Front and rear longitudinal leaf springs; solid front axle
- Brakes: Front and rear drum, hydraulic
- Base Price: $525 to $540
Tell us—what’s your favorite classic Ram Truck? Please leave your answer in the comments section below.
All figures and statistics in this post are courtesy of the Walter P. Chrysler museum.