Over the years I’ve had many rigs ranging from new, and newish, to old. I keep returning to the 70’s-80’s Dodges, either vans or motorhomes. They have been the best to me, plain and simple. They drive the best, and are the most reliable, and require the least amount of maintenance.
My current 1973 Dodge Travco high top camper van is approaching 500k trouble free miles on the original engine, transmission, and rear end. It did have points originally so I added a points eliminator kit, and I also added a fuel pressure regulator. Over the last 11 years I’ve been living in it, I’ve done typical maintenance like new shocks, new brakes, new tires, new ball joints & tie rod ends, new belts and hoses etc. Just the typical things every vehicle needs eventually. In return, I have a reliable camper van that never breaks down, and drives like a dream.
In the 70’s, a lot of the motorhomes, especially the Class C’s had the Dodge drivetrains, and there’s still a ton of them available today, because you just can’t kill them. The prices on these old Dodge’s is going up due to the high demand for them, but good deals can still be found. Parts are easy to find and cheap, and any mechanic worth a darn knows how to work on them. They’re simple and reliable.
My van had been gutted when I bought it for $700, but it was mechanically sound. I spent about ~$300 on it to turn it back into a full featured, comfortable camper van, that I’ve been living happily in for the last 11 years. It has allowed me to explore the country and enjoy my life very cheaply. I have all the amenities of a much larger and much more expensive motorhome, just in a smaller package that can be parked in any normal parking space.
Starting in the 80’s during the Reagon administration, corporate greed became more important than quality or safety, and the quality of cars started going downhill. It didn’t hit the vans until the 90’s though, and that’s when engine and transmission problems really began to rear their ugly head. That trend continues through today, and the big dependable American vans are becoming a thing of the past, and demand for them keeps growing. The American auto industry has been heading in the wrong direction for many years now, and just like everything else, corporate greed is running rampant, while quality, customer service, and customer satisfaction are quickly becoming distant memories.
Many mechanics love the newer vehicles because they break down more often, and need more frequent & more expensive repairs. Today, Toyota & Subaru are the only manufacturers where quality, reliability, and durability are still important. Unfortunately, in the USA they don’t sell either their Kei lines, or their bigger vehicles like vans and buses that are available elsewhere.
What we need is a new industrial revolution that focuses on quality, durabilty, escaping fossil fuels, and actually fulfilling our needs instead of perpetuating corporate greed, where we have to just settle for what they choose to make available to us. There are far better technologies available than they choose to let us take advantage of. Technologies which could put the major utilities out of business, and save everybody a ton of money in the process. Imagine if we could use hydrogen as our main fuel source, extracted from water, and extremely cheap. The exhaust from our vehicles would be water vapor instead of harmful pollutants, and we could fuel our cars with water instead of gas or diesel. The technologies are there, but the powers that be keep them buried and beyond our reach. Simply not enough money in it for big business. Instead they would rather sell us solar panels for a purpose they were never designed for.
"Always avoid expensive solutions to cheap problems." ~ OffGrid