I have always been fascinated by one-offs and few-offs. Elvis’ Caddy Wagon is a favorite. I was similarly captivated once upon a time by a 1973 Ford Pinto Wagon somebody hacked into Roadster Pickup . It is also interesting how some people see a motor home where others only see a clapped-out school bus. Given these facts, you will no doubt understand how this motor vehicle has me so enchanted.
This appears to be a circa-1973 Dodge Tradesman 300 van. But from there, things get complicated. Sure, the body was skillfully shortened, a raised roof installed, and a 90’s era GM dually 8ft bed installed on what appears to be Dodge frame rails. But look at that rear axle. That dually rear axle–of Mopar origin judging by the wheel/axle shaft appearance. I don’t believe dually axles were ever factory equipment on Dodge Tradesman 300s. The 16 inch non-dually type front wheels seem to support my theory that the rear axle was liberated from some other donor, but not the GM pickup.
While I thoroughly respect the skill and single-minded determination required to achieve such a vehicular mashup, I must admit that it causes me to scratch my head. Why go to so much effort to build a vehicle with, such, ahem limited function and appeal? Why not purchase a dually crew cab pickup? Why install the raised roof when it is very unlikely somebody will be standing in the area behind the driver? What I do know is the some DID make the effort, and this thing was rolling down the road with gusto–easily topping 70mph as these photos were taken.
I’m guessing 5th wheel tow vehicle before club cabs and crew cabs. Maybe inspired by club cabs and crew cabs and a low buck special. Maybe ‘reskin’ of a class-A motor home wreck chassis. Innovative for sure.
My guess is the rear axle came from a Class C mini-motorhome chassis. Dodge was the undisputed king of RV chassis in the early to mid ’70s and still had a sizable market share for years afterward.
Agreed. Could have started as a motorhome with Dodge van cab, been stripped entirely to the frame, then mounted the shortened Tradesman body.
Whoever did the work is clearly talented. Look at the shortened left door on the side! Who takes the time to do that?
This would make a killer tow rig. I’m curious what resides inside that dually bed.
Maybe it’s meant for people with really big heads and hairdos. The type that go to the movies and sit in front of you.
Thats really cool and well made, I like it.
I really like the super skinny door on rear the passenger’s side.
What, like every extended cab pickup since 1997?
Doing that super skinny rear door on a production vehicle is one thing. Doing it on a custom-crafted one-off is pretty damn impressive, if you ask me.
Is the right-hand door shortened too, or standard? If it is standard I can understand why a wider opening might be handy at times, versus just incorporating the latch panel in an opening for a single door.
I’m not sure you could say this has limited function – plenty of payload with the dually axle, plenty of room for people or weatherproof storage, etc. A 3-vehicles-in-one really.
A Dodge van, not even a cutaway intended to be built into to a high cube van or motor home does not have traditional frame rails. They are a unibody design. I have to think that the person started with a cutaway and added the back and mid section of a regular van. The cutaway chassis has a very specific “floor” pan past the front doors to give it the strength needed to not collapse w/o the body. It would be difficult to reinforce the standard van to stand up to this duty. You could get cutaways with single rear wheels so that is my guess at to what this started as. Either way it was a ton of work.
Great point Eric. When I took these photo’s I was unable to get the detail of the frame rails visible above the duallies…but I can assure you there were indeed rails there. The structural nature of this beast is truly a mystery. It also appears the wheelbase is substantially longer than even the longest van….so some sort of frame rail grafting/extension has taken place. Gosh….I wish I could weld like that……
Dodge made these in 159″ and 165″ wheelbase chassis for Class C motorhomes, which were very popular back in the seventies.
There’s an ’82-’91 Ford version of that vehicle that I see fairly regularly around here. One of these days I have to get some pics.
Sure looks cool and quite well done, but the fender flare looks a bit chewed up. Even the red paint is not that trashed despite the SoCal weather and if it really is a pre-1976 then it does not have to pass smog. I will echo the other commentators and ponder what the load capacity of this Dodgarado.
I see that it carries a California passenger license plate, which lends weight to the theory that it started life as a motorhome.
California just hammers dually 3/4 & 1 ton pickups on registration, so I can see how skinning a motor home would be a car tax avoidance strategy.
This appeals to me as an efficient use of space, the cab over nature of the van gives you near crew cab room in a shorter wheelbase.
Why? Because he could. Looks like a good job and I’m always envious of people who can do stuff like this.
This reminds me of another Dodge van I found that had a similar treatment done to it.
I like it. A full 8 ft bed and a crew cab, but in a size you can still easily park.
Looks like any number of Centurion-style fifth-wheel haulers that used van cabs. Much like this:
Yep, I’ve seen A Ford here
A GM bed on a Dodge? BLASPHEMY! …and blas for you, blas for everybody in the room…
Just today I saw a matt black homebrew ‘new’ MINI pickup. But I didnt think to take a picture.