Pick of the Day: Remember being told to ‘Duck and Cover’?

This 1955 Dodge C3 pickup reportedly was used by Civil Defense team in Texas

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Pick of the Day
This 1955 Dodge C3 was used by Civil Defense staffers in Dallas in the 1950s

After the Soviet Union detonated its first nuclear weapon, President Harry Truman created the Federal Civil Defense Administration in 1951 to work with various states and neighboring nations on plans and procedures “to meet emergencies or disasters from enemy attacks.”

Or, as the dealer offering the Pick of the Day put it in the vehicle’s advertisement on ClassicCars.com, “to educate and reassure the country that there were ways to survive an atomic attack from the Soviet Union.”

Those of a certain age may remember “Duck and Cover” exercises at school in which they were instructed to crouch beneath their desks in case of a nuclear attack, as if that might actually provide protection from the blast and radioactive fallout.

Regardless, the Pick of the Day is a 1955 Dodge C3 pickup truck with Civil Defense Administration history. According to the advertisement on ClassicCars.com, the truck was used by Civil Defense staffers in the Dallas area. 

“The uniqueness of this truck would make it a desirable addition to any collection,” the dealer advertising the car notes. “The FCDA stickers, sirens, ladder racks with ladders and tools and flashing amber light on the cab of the truck will certainly draw attention to it. 

“However,” the ad continues, “the ladder racks, ladders and other items could easily be removed to put this truck back to stock.”

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The engine, a 315cid V8 with Hemi heads known as the Super Red Ram, and 4-speed manual transmission both have been rebuilt and the car runs “amazing,”according to the ad.

“This C3 was also the first year of the pilot house wraparound front windshield that has a great look to it,” the dealer adds. 

“The interior has all been redone and looks amazing as well.”

The ad doesn’t offer details about the vehicle’s Civil Defense history, nor what it has been doing since the that agency was merged in 1958 with the Office of Defense Mobilization. The mergers continued with the former Civil Defense agency becoming part of the Federal Emergency Management Agency and in 2003 the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

The Dodge C3 is located in Goliad, Texas, and is being offered for $31,000. To view this listing on ClassicCars.com, see Pick of the Day.

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A former daily newspaper sports editor, Larry Edsall spent a dozen years as an editor at AutoWeek magazine before making the transition to writing for the web and becoming the author of more than 15 automotive books. In addition to being founding editor at ClassicCars.com, Larry has written for The New York Times and The Detroit News and was an adjunct honors professor at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.

4 COMMENTS

  1. Looks like a polyspherical-head engine to me, not a hemi-head. The Mopar family of “poly” engines had one rocker shaft per head and the block was eventually retooled (recast in a lighter thin-wall version) in the mid-sixties to accept the 273/318/340/360 family small block wedge cylinder heads (which explains the awkward pushrod angle of the small-block Mopar wedge engines)

  2. An ominous reminder of the gullibility of the average American. Duck & Cover, thermonuclear war is survivable, indeed.
    Sounds like the current booshwa from Washington; some things never change.
    Great piece of history, and I’m in agreement with the other writers- those are poly valve covers. A true Chrysler Hemi has the spark plug access and wires down the center, ‘tween the rockershafts, right where this one says “Hemi”. A really cool slice of Americana, from those mythical “better days”.

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