Turtle Top: 1972 Dodge Tradesman 200 Camper Van Project – Sold!

Feb 2020 | Truckin Tuesday

Update: This one got away, but if you have your heart set on something similar, email us the details of what you’re looking for or call Rudy directly at (908)295-7330

With the prices of Volkswagen camper vans showing no signs of coming back down to reality anytime soon, if you are in the market for a vintage camper van as a project, you can’t get much cheaper than this 1974 Dodge Tradesman 200 “Turtle Top” listed on Craigslist in Elizabeth, New Jersey for the asking price of $1,700, which is under the NADA Guides Collector Car Online Valuation Tool “Low” retail value of $1,825.  

Chrysler produced its B Series full-size vans with minimal changes between 1970 and 2003.  Due to a one-welded-piece “Uniframe” design, while the Dodge platform was lighter and stronger and featured a lower cargo floor than the competition, it was often at the expense of noise, vibration, and harshness (NVH). The resulting lower center of gravity improved handling versus the competing products.  For the first eight model years, the different configurations of B vans were given names. Sportsman passenger vans had side windows and passenger seating not present in the otherwise identical Tradesman models. The full range of gasoline-powered slant-6 and V8 engines Chrysler offered in trucks were also available in the Tradesman vans.  Dodge vans, particularly Tradesmans such as this example featured here from the 1971–1977 model years, were very popular as the basis for many custom vans during the custom van craze that occurred during the mid-to-late 1970s and early 1980s.

We’re going to play Devil’s advocate for a moment:  while its a romantic notion to take an air-cooled VW “Westy” out for a weekend adventure, the complete sheer lack of power (and heat for that matter) combined with a triangular folding top really limits your ability to move around in the van when stationary.  The Dodge’s Turtle Top design is clearly better, albeit without offering the upper bunk that’s really only useful for kids anyway.  The seller does not provide any details other than his van needs a fusible link in order to run.  Our counter-point is someone needs to troubleshoot the cause of why the fusible link did its job.  Once resolved you can move on to modernizing the interior before your first adventure.  Good luck with the purchase!

Here’s the seller’s extremely brief description:

“Project car. Currently does not run – needs fusible link. Clean title.

Do you have a Dodge Turtle Top story you’d like to share?  Comment below and let us know!

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