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1940 Dodge VK62B Page 2

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One curious feature that I've yet to get to the bottom of is the existence of the very Mulliner-esque aluminium swoopy strips that exist on the front doors and on top of the bonnet, running from the centre of the bonnet's leading edge, diagonally across the top panel, extending across the cowl and down the front doors. These seem to be strange things to have on a military vehicle, the need for which must have been quite pressing and urgent at the time. Maybe it was a demonstrator vehicle produced by Mulliners, on to which they added a few styling cues hinting at their earlier (grander) designs for coach bodywork prior to the war? Or were they just feeling slightly flamboyant one Friday afternoon and using up some redundant stock they had lying around? On removing them the paint below is just a yellow primer type stuff, the various blues and (in Poore's ownership) dark green being applied around the strips. If I look closely there are signs of there having been 2 similar swoopy strips running down each side of the rear bodywork, starting narrow and splaying out and downwards as they pass over the rear wheels, again in the style of civilian buses from the 1930s. The strips along the rear sides have long since been removed, possibly by Poore, probably so as not obscure the sponsorship signwriting that has been applied. Only the mounting screw holes remain for where the trim once ran, that and signs of early corrosion that must have occurred as a result of a reaction between the alloy trim and steel panelling, marking out where the trim once ran.

I've tried to establish what colour schemes the Dodge has had during its life. Now very faded, the paintwork seen here in the photographs started out as a deep green colour, probably matching the green that Poore ran the Alfa in, confirmed by both of the 2 team mechanics who I was fortunate in being able to speak with about their times with Poore and his motor racing outings. Scraping through the layers of paint however does throw up some questions. Below and to the outside of the aluminium strips already mentioned there are signs of a dark blue on top of a lighter blue paint colour, this runs from the outside of the bonnet top strips, down the sides, taking in the front wings and the front doors below the strips. However above the aluminium strips, and between them on top of the bonnet, running rear up and over the cab, there are signs of a dusty yellow directly beneath its current green topcoat, which seems to indicate that it may have run with a strange colour scheme at some point in its life. And as the colour scheme seems to directly follow the line of these aluminium flashing strips, the earlier life of this truck seems ever more confusing. Was it converted into a mobile classroom sometime during the war and then updated with these civilian style aluminium flashings and a different paintjob? maybe it saw some service out in the desert (hence the sandy yellow paint to be found), then brought back and assigned to training duties, receiving at this point localised areas of repainting in blue and the trim strips, possibly applied by some RAF engineers just to improve the look of the vehicle, or differentiate it from those still in active airfield duty? If anyone can advise it would be appreciated!
1948 Goodwood meeting with the Dodge on the RHS
During my research I have tried to locate photographs of the truck in action after the war at race meetings. One of my earlier finds was courtesy of the programme issued for the first Goodwood Revival meeting back in 1998, which shows an overhead view of the paddock at the very first Goodwood meeting in 1948. Along the righthandside is a line of parked racing cars and their transporters, one of which is the Dodge, although only the back end can be seen, with the Alfa a couple of positions further along, being worked on by the mechanics (Sten 'Tammy' Aberg and Bill Lawes).
Dodge in the background with the Alfa
A better picture can be seen in a book on motor racing that I found. Inside is a picture of a racing driver in 500cc single seater racing car. In the background, and out of focus, is the back end of my Dodge (this time emblazoned with its sponsor advertising) with the ramps extended and the Alfa parked alongside, partially covered up. Another period shot was found at the 2002 Goodwood Festival of Speed, whilst I was flicking through a mountain of old motor racing photographs. In a binder of amateur photographs, I discovered a picture of a 1930s Mercedes sports car, and clearly parked behing it is the Dodge, showing 2/3rds of the truck and this time, including the front end, with the Alfa alongside surrounded by inquisitive children. Finding pictures of Poore driving, whether in his Alfa, or for the Connaught or Aston teams, is not too difficult, bit finding anything that shows him in a paddock with the Dodge is very difficult, and if anyone can add to my collection please get in touch.
Classic magazine article featuring the Dodge
Another find was pointed out to me in the form of an article published in Classic & Sportscar magazine back in 1988, shortly after Poore's death. This article discussed whether old racing cars should be preserved 'as is' or restored to as-new condition. Much of the article was given over to the extrication of the timewarp Alfa Romeo and the Dodge, plus all the other team effects such as pit boards and spares, from the barn in which they had been stored. There were some great pictures of both the car and the Dodge at slumber. A contact of mine also furnished me with a picture of the Dodge when it was temporarily put on display in the Donington Park motor racing museum. Another interesting find was an original auction catalogue for the '88 Monaco racing car sale, when the Alfa and all the team effects including the Dodge and trailer were sold off. Of course, if anyone has any further pictures showing the old Dodge in use, and they'd be willing to let me take a copy of it (or at least see it) then please do get in touch, it'd be much appreciated. Shortly after getting the Dodge I was fortunate enough to get the matching trailer, designed pre-war and modified later to carry the Alfa. It was roadtested to 98mph, although quite what the towcar was to get the trailer upto such velocities is not recorded!

Another stroke of luck was when a gentleman got in touch whose father ran an identical Dodge bus to mine after the war for his travelling funfair business. He sent me some great photographs (which can be viewed on this VK page) and a drawing of their Dodge VK, a vehicle which sadly was cut up despite being in good order, in the early 1960s (sob). Someone told me that a building firm ran a fleet of these buses to ferry out brickies to building sites in postwar Britain, but I've yet to have this confirmed. I have however found photos of VK Dodges that were bought, rebodied, and used as coaches in Southend by a local operator.

As I've already mentioned briefly, I was fortunate enough to be able to make contact with the 2 mechanics who worked for Dennis Poore 50+ years ago. Initially it was Tammy (real name Sten) Aberg who I found, or rather who found me, via a picture I sent of the transporter to C&S magazine. I met up with Tammy a number of times, and spent many hours talking about 1940s/50s motor racing, not just with Poore, but the whole scene of postwar motorsport in the UK. He was able to tell me some great stories about the Dodge. He put me in touch with Bill Lawes, who now lives in New Zealand, and was Dennis Poore's #1 mechanic. I was also fortunate enough to meet up with Bill at Goodwood, and he was able to add to the stories that Tammy (who is sadly no longer with us) told me.

Had the Dodge not been in dry store from 1955 (when Poore retired from racing) through to 1987, I doubt it would have survived. When I first saw it in the 1990s it had suffered at the hands of both the elements and vandals, with glass & dials smashed, piled up with rubbish and one small step from the cutters torch. Since then I have had it in dry store until such time as I had facility to commence what would be a lengthy rebuild, acquiring spares whenever I can in the meantime. Finding parts unique to the 3 ton, 5.4 engined VK is far from easy, so I'd welcome all leads that anyone can suggest please. If you know of a VK in a breakers yard in the UK, USA or wherever, please let me know!! The rebuild of my old Dodge can now be followed on a blog I'm running on a different website - click here to have a look.
One of many Dodge trucks books on sale
One of many Dodge trucks books on sale
Click here for these and other Old Dodge Trucks books for sale!
Hell Drivers out on DVD, probably the most famous appearances ever of Kew Dodges being worked to the limit back in 1957
Click here to buy the DVD
1941 Job Rated Dodge advert
Kew Dodge advert
Military WW2 Dodge ambulance
Civilian US Dodge pickup