General Patton's Dodge WC57 Command Car headed to auction

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Indiana will see some excellent vintage metal on several auction blocks this summer. Mecum Auctions has the 1965 Pontiac GeeTO Tiger and 1963 Shelby Cobra that was a Ford demonstrator planned for in Indiana in late June. Two weeks before that, and as noted by Carscoops, Worldwide Auctioneers will offer what could have been Gen. George S. Patton’s Dodge WC57 Command Car. We say "could have been" because although the WC57 came out of the National Military History Center in Auburn, Indiana, a few years ago and is fitted with the modifications Patton made to his personal WC57, the auction house doesn't have paperwork explicitly linking Patton to this car, and there are other replicas of Patton Command Cars out there. That could help explain why when RM Auctions put this WC57 up for sale in 2017 with a pre-sale estimate of $100,000 to $150,000, the vehicle failed to make the $60,000 reserve.

Dodge had been making vehicles for the U.S. military since before World War I, most of them based on civilian models. Before the U.S. entered World War II, Dodge turned its civilian TC pickup into the 1940 VC-1 military truck. The VC-1 quickly evolved into the WC range, the WC57 Command and Reconnaissance Weapons Carrier riding on a three-quarter-ton, 4x4 chassis and weighing almost 5,400 pounds. Built from 1942 to 1945, they were powered by Dodge's T214 side-valve, 230-cubic-inch inline-six with 92 horsepower.


The WC57 was simple, reliable, capable, and at the end of the war, was part of the inspiration for the Dodge Power Wagon. The story is that soldiers returning from active duty badgered Dodge for a civilian version of the indefatigable WC warhorse, so Dodge responded with the postwar's most hardcore pickup in 1946.

The open-topped WC57 rig was also popular with U.S. Army officers, and because of that, it was popular target practice for German infantry and Luftwaffe pilots. So Patton, before heading to France in 1944 with the Third Army, had the motor pool in Cheltenham, England, modify his WC57. Mechanics added an armor flap to shield the radiator, half-inch armor plate under the floor, and a Browning M2 .50-caliber machine gun for fending off aerial attacks. A second, drop-down tailgate provided extra space and covered tool storage. Flags and high-volume horns on the front fenders announced Patton's rank and command, and a grab rail behind the front seats gave Patton a handhold as he stood to address his troops. The auction vehicle differs slightly from those mods, perhaps due to the inevitable changes, upkeep, and restoration after the war. There's a Browning M1919 A44 .30-cal mounted to the passenger running board, and a different took kit on the tailgate.

This time, Patton's ride has to go, though, so it will hit the auction block with no reserve. The Worldwide Auctioneers event happens from June 11-14 at Kruse Plaza in Auburn, Indiana.

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