Historical commission takes another step toward 1952

Photo by Gabriel Goodwin
Carol and Cindy Nash of Melvindale donated a 1952 Dodge M37 Powerwagon to the city’s historical commission. The couple posted it on Craigslist looking to sell the truck, but ultimately donated the truck to the commission. The truck has no engine or transmission, but the commission plans to completely restore the truck. Chairman Robert Vaillancourt said the running joke is to have the restoration complete by the city’s 100th birthday, in 2024.

Sunday Times Newspapers

MELVINDALE — The Historical Commission has the information it needs to register the antique police truck donated in late 2012.

Chairman Robert Vaillancourt said it was big deal because the vehicle can be registered with the state of Michigan.

Carol and Cindy Nash donated the1952 Dodge M37 Powerwagon to the Melvindale Historical Commission near the end of 2012, but the commission had no way to register the vehicle because it couldn’t locate the vehicle identification number.

With a bit of luck, a retired police officer shed some light on the location of the VIN, Vaillancourt said. He said during the Motor Muster June 15 and 16 at The Henry Ford in Dearborn, the two had a conversation about the truck and the retiree was very specific about the location: on the driver’s side frame in front of the steering box on the outside of the frame.

Vaillancourt said he learned a lot more about the vehicle and resources available for restoring the truck than he knew.

“Military vehicles had a following out there I was unaware of,” Vaillancourt said. “I didn’t know there were still lots of parts available for the vehicle. A lot of them were universal.

“It makes sense, though. There had to be. It is a vehicle originally used by the military. They had to be repaired quickly and with the limited resources within the convoy.”

The truck was originally a utility truck used to carry weapons and ammunition, Vaillancourt said, but when it was commissioned by the Police Department, it was used to catch dogs. The commission has plans to restore the truck to its original, working condition, but not its original color.

“The truck was an army green and when the city got it, it was painted the 1970s police livery,” he said. “We know it has some military value to it, but we would like to restore it to what it looked like when it was used by the city.”

The commission is selling historical commission T-shirts, that were designed during a competition at Melvindale High School, to raise money to restore the truck. The T-shirts were designed by graduated senior Nathan Vasquez.

They can be purchased by contacting the historical commission and will be on sale during the second annual Arts & Crafts Street Fair Aug. 16 and 17 on Allen Road between Oakwood and Outer Drive.

(Gabriel Goodwin can be reached at ggoodwin@bewickpublications.com.)