Junkyard Jackpot: The Missing Pieces For the A100 Hell Project Puzzle

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin

My 1966 Dodge A100 Hell Project has been in semi-hibernation since the summer, but now it has a rebuilt front end and I’m ready to get back into turning it into the 8-track-equipped custom van of my dreams. Since I bought my van project, the toughest problem has been finding junked A100s to provide a bunch of bits and pieces needed to get everything working properly. Alex Kierstein of Hooniverse grabbed a window latch from a Seattle junkyard and shipped it to me, which was a big help, but my van still had some bad glass and an annoying assortment of missing pieces. Then, last week, I got word that an A100 had appeared in a self-service yard a few miles from my house.

Unfortunately, I heard about this find late Wednesday night, and I was heading to the airport Thursday morning to fly out to the Yeehaw It’s Texas 24 Hours of LeMons. I knew that the vultures might well pick that rare van clean by the time I got back, so my only choice was to get up early, dash to the junkyard, pull the parts, and then rush to the airport. Bundling up against the 15-degree cold in many layers of Homeless Choice™ brand clothes, I threw my tools in my cargo-hauling Civic and burned rubber to I-25.

The #1 item on my list has been a replacement driver’s-side windshield panel; the one on my van was badly cracked and has the look of a piece of glass that wants to disintegrate into my face at highway speed. The one on this ’69 A100 (in fact, it’s the long-wheelbase A108 version of the A100) was in fine shape, and I actually cackled with glee when I saw it.

The ancient weatherstripping was dried-out and shrunken, in addition to being frozen rock-hard by the Denver winter air, and the locking strip was fused solid in its channel. This meant I was in for 45 minutes of chipping away at rubber the consistency of pine with a putty knife. Fortunately, the glass in these vans is absurdly thick, so there wasn’t much danger of cracking this windshield as I worked.

In a few areas, the glass had fused to the rubber with such tenacity that I had to use my Junkyard Hammer™ (Vice-Grips) to get the blade to bite.

Got it!

Another problem with my van is the window in one of the rear doors. It broke at some point, so a previous owner replaced it with a piece of Lexan. That worked OK, but the plastic has become very scratched and hazy, essentially opaque when the sun (or headlights) shine on it. This A108 had excellent rear door glass, complete with dark tinting.

This weatherstripping was quite flexible, so removing the glass was just a matter of slicing it with a utility knife and peeling the rubber away.

Three minutes later, the glass was out. Good thing I did the difficult glass-removal operation first, because my hands had become thoroughly frozen by this time. Mechanix gloves are great, but not really made for insulation.

Got the glass! Now to harvest some more stuff before my plane leaves DIA.

The A100, like many Chrysler products of the 1960s, used a foot-pump-operated windshield-washer squirter, with a plastic reservoir on a metal bracket. This system was missing most of its parts in my van, but this A108 had the entire setup in perfect working order. It’s almost impossible to find the black plastic washer-fluid reservoir in good shape, so this was quite a score for me. A few twists of the screwdriver and the whole mess was mine.

The heater blower motor in my van is bad. Here’s the replacement.

The instrument cluster in my van is extremely cool-looking, but only the ammeter functions. I’m considering modifying a 1961 Citroën ID19 cluster (which I own) to use in the A100, but it wouldn’t hurt to have a spare Dodge unit in case I want to rebuild the factory cluster. The 1969 version isn’t as vintage-looking as the ’66, but the innards are identical. Four screws and it’s out.

I also grabbed the horn button assembly, a taillight lens, some seat mounting pins, a side-view mirror, a door strap (which keeps the door from swinging open too far and bashing the bodywork), an engine-cover prop rod, and a bunch of small hardware I need. I had pulled all this stuff quickly enough that I had time (barely) to run back home and drop everything off before heading to the airport.

When I got back into town on Monday, I went back and got the other half of the windshield and the other rear door glass, plus some more small pieces. You never know when you’re going to need spare glass for your 46-year-old project!

Murilee Martin
Murilee Martin

Murilee Martin is the pen name of Phil Greden, a writer who has lived in Minnesota, California, Georgia and (now) Colorado. He has toiled at copywriting, technical writing, junkmail writing, fiction writing and now automotive writing. He has owned many terrible vehicles and some good ones. He spends a great deal of time in self-service junkyards. These days, he writes for publications including Autoweek, Autoblog, Hagerty, The Truth About Cars and Capital One.

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  • Corewanderer Corewanderer on Mar 29, 2012

    hey man, i am working on a dodge a100 myself,I know this is a long shot but anyway i live up here in Seattle and was wondering if you know what junk yard your friend got that latch at? probably a long shot that the van is even still there, but im looking for some random parts and cant seem to find what im looking for..thanks man, corewanderer@hotmail.com

  • -Nate -Nate on Sep 16, 2012

    That's a nice old truck ! . good score on those hard to find items . I hope you grabbed the Dog Dish hubcaps ? . even when you don't like the factory hubbies , they make wonderful parts trays when working or excellent cleaning tubs when de - greasing large amounts of hardwre etc. plus of course , there's always some old codger like me who'll trade for them . Flat Auto Glass is absurdly cheap , measure up how big it is in square feet and then call every glass shop in the 'phone book , ask them how much per square foot inclding cutting to suit . I never pay more than $25 for my V.W. Flat Windshields and it has compound curves that are tricky to cut . An old man (now deceased) who couldn't graduate High School opened his own Glass Shop near me in 1937 and was a *very* rich man in jig time ~ he told me the markup on glass is scandalous . hence I began shopping around . I assume you grabbed the original AM radio too ? they're hard to find , and almost always work plus many places will rebuild them with modern AM / FM / MPC jacks etc. for $250 . -Nate

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