While many see the Ford Raptor as the top dog among today’s stock off-road trucks for looks and speed, there is little debate about which classic off-road truck is most lust worthy. That claim clearly goes to the Legacy Classic Trucks and their impressive Dodge Power Wagon recreations
Based in Driggs, Idaho, just “over the hill,” as the locals say, from Jackson Hole, Wyoming, Legacy Classic Trucks sit in a largely nondescript industrial park—well, nondescript if you missed the graveyard of old Power Wagons sitting in various degrees of disrepair outside the buildings.
Behind the tan walls are several bays filled with modified Power Wagons and other 4×4 vehicles. Each vehicle has been either pre-sold to a buyer or is in for another reason. While the bays and warehouse are largely unremarkable, the vehicles leaving them are quite incredible.
Founder Winslow Bent claims he was frustrated by vehicles that simply couldn’t perform “as advertised.” He is an automotive enthusiast whose father restored military vehicles as a hobby and has spent his life in the automotive industry. His company is known for a variety of different off-road creations like the Jeep Scrambler and Chevy Napco, but we stopped by with one particular vehicle in mind–the Legacy Classic Trucks Dodge Power Wagon.
Legacy’s Power Wagon basically combines the look of the first-generation Dodge Power Wagon (1946-68) with all the modern underpinnings available for off-road capability and modern interior treatments and conveniences. Each truck is custom built to unique buyer specs with nearly every option you can imagine on the table.
Commonly, buyers start their build by choosing between two-door regular cab trucks, extended cab, and four-door crew cab varieties. Since the original Dodge Power Wagons never came in crew cab or extended cab models, Legacy fabricates them by cutting and welding cabins together.
After pounding out all the dents and prepping the cabin, Legacy adds soundproofing throughout and upgrades everything from the gauges to the door hinges. When the cabin is finished, it is modernized with a number of conveniences, including power windows and locks, heat and a/c.
Then, the cabin is filled with the customer’s choice of premium leathers and accent trims throughout. The gauges, turn signals, electronics, billet steering column, and even courtesy lights are added as well.
Underneath, the trucks are recreated with a frame-off build. Legacy boxes the factory C-channel frame from the front to the mid-section for additional rigidity and swaps out the axles for Dynatrac ProRock 80s at rear and Dana 60s up front. Interestingly, the Warn Locking Hubs are the manual variety that require the driver to get out and turn the hubs to engage 4WD. This is decidedly different than the electronic, flip-a-switch ARB lockers that are often added to the trucks. While these systems operate differently and are used for different purposes, they are often engaged together when the truck is struggling—or is stuck.
The 4WD system sends power to each of the four wheels while ARB lockers lock the front or rear axle to force each tire to spin at the same rate of speed. Typically, an off-roader will engage 4×4 and then engage the lockers if the tires are still slipping and/or the truck is stuck. Once the truck is free, the lockers are turned off since cornering can cause binding in the differentials, damaging the axles.
Enhancing the ride quality are new leaf springs along with Bilstein 5100 shocks. Often, front and rear ARB lockers are added, and the trucks feature Wilwood disc brakes all around.
Powering these trucks are several different engines, including a 3.9-liter Cummins 4BT I-4 producing 170 hp and 480 lb-ft of torque, a 6.2-liter Chevrolet LS3 small block V-8 putting out 430 hp and 420 lb-ft of torque, or a supercharged 6.2-liter Chevrolet LSA V-8 producing 620 hp and 620 lb-ft of torque. There is also the option of a 6.7-liter Chrysler 408 V-8 producing 400 hp and 480 lb-ft of torque for those wanting to keep it all-Mopar.
Each engine is mated to either a four-speed automatic or a five-speed manual. A modified Atlas 3:0:1 transfer case is installed to handle the power.
Finally, the packed engine bay also includes a Ron Davis custom three-core aluminum radiator that looks like it could cool a locomotive.
Depending on which configuration of powertrain you request, the trucks are very capable work horses, with maximum tow ratings surpassing 12,000 lb—that is if you ever desire to tow something with it.
Climbing inside the cabin, it is clear the exterior dimensions haven’t changed much. The truth is that a driver and passenger can easily make the cabin feel a bit tight. This is the only real reminder you are in a classic truck–they simply didn’t build them that wide back then.
While the lack of interior space is rather surprising, the rest of the cabin is just remarkable. It is really easy to forget you are in a post-WWII “farm utility truck,” as Dodge marketed them back then, and not in the latest Ram 2500.
We were able to ride along in two trucks, one powered by the 3.9-liter Cummins and one by an LS3. Each wore 37×13.50R17 Toyo Open Country tires (40-inchers are optional and recommended) and 17×9 Trailready bead-lock wheels, yet the LS3 unsurprisingly blows away the Cummins in off-the-line speed. Mated to an automatic transmission, the LS3-powered truck leaps forward and one can imagine the difficulty in keeping this truck under the speed limit. It yearns to go fast off-road—really crazy fast.
While the Cummins-powered truck is much more lethargic off the line, the rumble from under the hood is unmistakable. In fact, it is hard to hear anything else with the Cummins since the thin firewall isn’t up to the task of muffling the sound. Yet, when combined with the exterior and interior styling, that rumble just oozes cool. It is truly hard to decide which powertrain is best.
Thanks to the various modifications, the heavy duty truck is a surprise hit for ride comfort. A person really could spend a considerable amount of time joyriding across the countryside in the Legacy Power Wagon.
After a few hours checking out the facility and riding in the various trucks, it is truly difficult to find one item Legacy has overlooked. These trucks have been so meticulously gone over, there really are no shortcomings. Granted this attention to detail does come with a fairly hefty price tag. Clean, western title (rust free) trucks start at $185,000 for a single cab, while crew cab models start at $255,000.
The prices may seem steep, but after looking at the various projects in progress and talking with the staff, it is safe to say business has been booming for a while. One ride in the truck and it is easy to see why.