By on February 4, 2011

It just occurred to me that my own A100 Hell Project hasn’t been featured on Whatever I’m Calling The Series Of Photographs Of Old Street-Parked Vehicles These Days. It’s a total nightmare to drive in the snow (particularly for a snow-country n00b like me), but it looks pretty good with the white stuff.

I think a limited-slip differential and some snow tires would make this thing much a much more civilized winter driver, but Denver snow usually doesn’t stay around for long and I’m not all that motivated to drive my van on the ice (though a limited-slip would be fun for 318-powered smokey burnouts). Did I mention that I still haven’t gotten around to fixing the heater?

Right now I’m building up parts for a suspension rebuild and shopping around for an upholstery shop that will do the seats in the proper metalflake-red Naugahyde with gold piping. I’m also hoping to find some seriously sci-fi-looking 1970s speakers for the 8-track sound system; those Mandrill and Montrose tapes need to be heard!. When the warm weather arrives, this van needs to be ready!

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14 Comments on “Down On The Mile High Street: 1966 Dodge A100 Sportsman...”

  • avatar

    Speaking as a former Michigander: I’d suggest somewhere in the neighborhood of 300 pounds of dead weight in between the rear wheel wells.
    I ran a ’76 B200 Tradesman (318 auto) for several years in the Great White North with the exact same Grand Am tires you’re sportin’, and the weight made a huge difference. I packed 4 tubular sand bags, about 70 pounds each.
    Sandbags had several advantages over other types of dead weight: they generally stayed put and didn’t slide around (unlike engine blocks, cement blocks or bowling balls), were low profile enough not to get in the way of hauling most loads, were much less likely to kill me if they did slide, and once or twice were a good supply of sand to put under the tires when I did get stranded on ice!  They weren’t easy for one person to move, but not impossible. As long as you keep them dry and intact, they can be reused.
    But, if you have other transport that’s more sure-footed (I didn’t back in the day), then it may be a good excuse to leave that A100 parked!

    • 0 avatar

      If you can find old truck inner tubes, cut them up and put you sand bags in them. That will keep the sand dry and the rubber usually holds up better than the paper bags that sand usually is sold in. Use wire to tie the ends closed.
      I have used this set-up in the open bed of a pick-up truck and it works for year after year.
      They also can be used as a way to stabilize odd shaped items you have to carry from time to time…like Judge Jonny.

  • avatar

    The snow helps to bring out the details; there’s more “styling” there than you initially notice.

  • avatar

    Mandrill!  Mango Meat? YES!
    That said, the A100 looks great with those wheels, you are really nailing the period correct restomods!

  • avatar

    Whoa. Those pictures just flashed me back to 1979.

  • avatar

    Murilee , do not head north of the 49th anytime soon. I did this story this week about my western Canadian home town’s snow removal policy after trying to reason with winter season here in the frozen wasteland. The accompanying photos were taken though the front windshield of my 1987 Chevy Van and have not been doctored to enhance my city’s incredibly myopic view of Canadian winters. Incidentally, a van in my town fits in the snow ruts fairly well.

  • avatar

    Get a bumper sticker for the back bumper that says:

  • avatar
    Felis Concolor

    If you end up going the limited slip route, take a while to decide between performance and comfort: while I can’t argue with the Torsen T2R’s torque bias abilities, its operating noise was intrusive enough to make me switch back to a traditional Auburn clutch pack and the special sauce for same.

    While a lot of 70s loudspeakers for the home were still sporting ornate wood and fabric grilles, the late 70s did witness the rise of the exposed high frequency diffuser, and total driver count per loudspeaker cabinet rose to heights that have not been equalled since then: perhaps some Pioneers or Sansuis from that period would suffice? If not, one could always see about creating some homebrew horn speaker attachments for high efficiency full range drivers: those always have that “sound from the future” look.

    A friend working with me on the current project vehicle mentioned one group in the Denver area that might be able to do the upholstery job you described, but when I was told what price to expect for their work, I fear you’ve not spent half so much on your entire project to date.
    We’re down to bare metal now; just a few more weeks to go before we finalize the paint and exterior trim reattachment.

  • avatar

    My own take is, if you drive that thing in the salty slush, you’re crazy. Rustproofing was a joke in those days; and even though Denver doesn’t promote car-cancer like the Great Lakes area humidity does, a vehicle with NO protection…will rot.
    That said…go to Home Depot and get some Tubesand for the back.  Durable casing; sandbags won’t shift, weight in the rear.
    LSD (not that stuff the nuts take) won’t help much without WEIGHT.  You’ll just spin BOTH your wheels and crab sideways…and you can add an accident and body damage to your other issues.
    Was I you, I’d leave the heater issue for last.  Remove even the temptation to take it out in unsuitable weather…make it the finishing touch; by then you’ll be so committed you won’t want it anywhere near a snowy road.

    • 0 avatar

      Agreed. Take it from someone who’s lost many nice vehicles to the cancer, if you drive this van this winter, this spring you’ll find your underbody to be nothing but surface rust and your paint on the lower body panels will be bubbling out from the rust beneath. Add a second winter and it’ll be ready for the crusher. Maybe you could feature it in your junkyard classics then?

    • 0 avatar

      if i remember correctly, colorado doesn’t use salt on the roads. i’m surprised to see the van outside. i thought that murilee had procured an inside location for it based on a video posted earlier. either way, i’m sure that the man is very cognizant of the tin worm…

      of greater concern is the safety issue. front controlled vehicles with single break circuits in snow country scare the cr*p out of me!

      fyi, there was a beautiful period appropriate econoline pickup featured in the times yesterday:

  • avatar

    Having owned a ’68 Dodge window van (slant-6, auto) that I drove cross country in 1976, I can tell you that while shag would be “authentic”, it’s not a very good idea. I also had colorful curtains, and noticed my increased privacy was directly proportional to police interest. I was twice as likely to be pulled over with the curtains closed as with them open. I ended up painting over the side windows the same color as the exterior, and put roll-down shades on the back windows. I also put the middle bench seat back in for passengers, but hinged the seat back to fold flat into a better-than-nothing bed. In short, once you’ve done the mechanicals to your liking, you’ve got a lot of choices to make and work to do on the interior. Fortunately, the owner of every van I saw gave it his personal touch, so there’s no one right way to make it authentic. BTW, bumper stickers involving politics and sexual innuendo were common in the ’70s, but attracted the wrong kind of notice. I found you can’t go wrong with Disneyland and AAA stickers.

  • avatar

    “if i remember correctly, colorado doesn’t use salt on the roads.”

    Incorrect.  The Denver area started using salt over twenty years ago; many other communities as well.  And the Interstates are salted, obviously, for safe usage by truckers and the convenience of drivers who cannot or will not learn how to drive on snow.
    The dry air helps lessen body-rot; but it’s present.  And getting more so, it seems, depending on the vehicle.  I had lived in Denver for a time in the ’90s and am just now returning; I know of whence I speak.

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