The Dodge B100 Van

Way back in 1980 I worked for a company that serviced 2way Radios. While I was working there the company purchased a new Dodge van and we set it up as a service vehicle. I drove that vehicle as my service truck for just over a year. When I left the company the van had right around 33,000 miles on it.

Powered by a slant 6 and a 4 Speed floor shift the van was actually fun to drive. The slant 6 actually had more than enough power and fully loaded with equipment the van tipped the scales at just under 5000 Lbs.   The max weight was 5200 so with a full tank of gas < 35 gallon tank > the van was right at the weight limit. Even with that much weight the van moved well and was a much better riding van than any of the Fords the company also owned.

I left the company in December of 1980 and never gave the van another thought until January of this year when out of the blue the van showed up at a lot behind a bar. I figured the van would have been long gone 20 years ago but there it was.

I drove by and looked at it and it was the van I drove and it still had the GE mobile radio decals on it I installed when it was new. That was one chore I didn't enjoy. Installing those decals was a time intensive task.  After a few weeks the van disappeared from the lot and I didn't give it any more thought.

A couple weeks later to my surprise I saw the van less than 2 blocks from home. A younger gentlemen had purchased it and was working towards getting it running. I told him what I knew about it and that I drove it when new and was shocked that it had not been trashed 20 plus years ago. He worked with it for a few months and had the awful task of digging out the foam that had been installed when new. When we set it up as a service vehicle we had it foamed inside and that made a really big difference in keeping warm in the winter.  The foam made it one very air tight vehicle.  Now that foam was turning to dust and the paneling we had installed was disintegrating. It had been Ziebarted when new and I think that's why it's still here and in one piece.

The vehicle being 34 years old was actually in pretty good shape considering that the company sold the van late in 1988 and the guy that bought it just parked it inside his block building garage along with other trucks and cars he had picked up. The odometer showed just over 38,000 miles. At first I figured it had rolled over since we put around 30.000 miles on a vehicle every year. Normal life for our fleet vehicles was 5 year and by then they would have well over 100,000 miles on them. One of the ford vans we had was totaled in an accident and was only 2 years old but already and 78,000 on it at the time. Nearly all the miles was highway because we serviced equipment all over the northern half of Indiana. But looking over the Dodge closely it became apparent that it had only been driven by mostly me and after I left it must have not been driven much at all.  At the time I was 20 years old and shifting gears was something the older guys had no interest in. I'm sure all the Fords being automatics with V8 engines and AC was a big reason the Dodge just sat after I left.

After some months of Joe working on the van he found that the title was going to be a major task and the van was needing more done than he expected. I paid him more than he had in it but he had put on a starter and dug up a battery and had spent hours digging out the foam and pulling up the rotten wood floor and paneling.

So I purchased it for our company to use as a cargo hauler and I figured to spend around 3500 to get it going doing most of the work myself. The van has been an adventure.  Joe was wise to move on because far more was in store on the path to on the road again.

The pictures here show the progress of the project. I have other vehicles I've collected and have had my turn on dirty tasks but the Van has been even for me some adventure.


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