By on February 17, 2012

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!

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53 Comments on “Junkyard Jackpot: The Missing Pieces For the A100 Hell Project Puzzle...”

  • avatar

    Those cab forward vans have a certain appeal that I can’t quite define. I am following your project with much interest.

  • avatar

    I wonder what TSA would say if you try to board the cabin with these assorted items with you!

    • 0 avatar

      I’ve actually brought VW brake drums and a pair of Weber 34s in carry-on baggage (the carbs were new, so no gas smell), but that was in the pre-TSA era. No raised eyebrows from the airport security folks. Nowadays I’d probably make the national headlines: BRAKE DRUM ATTACK THWARTED BY TSA, CAVITY SEARCHES NOW MANDATED AT ALL AIRPORTS.

      If I’d had to go straight to the airport from the junkyard, I’d have left the parts in the Civic and hidden the toolbox under the thrift-store blanket I keep in the car for that purpose. I doubt the thieves roaming the DIA long-term parking lots are looking for grimy old car parts in 20-year-old beater Civics.

      • 0 avatar

        Went through something similar recently… Mrs. Feds was traveling to Dallas for work, so like any patriotic Canadian, I had $600 worth of tires shipped to a warehouse in Buffalo which she picked up, hid under a blanket in the back of the MPV in the BNIA parking lot, then dutifully declared on her way back through (at 2 AM).

        Thankfully the good Methheads of Buffalo were not particularly itchy for a fix that week.

      • 0 avatar

        Wow. When I came home from the air force, I had my toobox, tools and a pretty hefty scissors jack in my luggage! That cloth-sided, wood framed Leeds luggage sure took a beating on that final trip from California to St. Louis! I had to check the Colt .45 Mk lV automatic pistol, though…

    • 0 avatar

      I was traveling with an Atari 2600 and a Mattel Intellivision recently. TSA made me pull both out and run them through the scanner separately, as if they were laptops. Several other TSA agents swung by my lane to check them out.

  • avatar
    Jetstar 88

    There’s nothing like finding something this rare and yet useful.

  • avatar

    Yeah, but… have you ever been pulling parts and realized the junk yard vehicle is actually in better shape than what’s at home in the garage? I know that’s a real head-scratcher. There’s actually been one point in my life where just swapping out vehicles would have been quicker and easier.

    • 0 avatar

      Sure have, but my A100 is actually in pretty good shape (plus it’s the rare Sportsman passenger version, not the much more common Tradesman cargo version). It sat for 15 years in the Denver sun, so the paint and upholstery is pretty well fried and the fuel system needed a lot of work to clear out the bad-gas residue, but overall it’s very solid.

    • 0 avatar

      This happened many times with our LeMons 633csi

    • 0 avatar

      Man, I hear you there. I found a ’57 Plymouth 2-door wagon in a yard near home. The interior had been gutted, but there wasn’t a speck of rust on the bare metal floors, front, back, or cargo area. All the remaining body parts were straight as could be. It was a 6-cylinder Powerflite car – I suspect the tranny probably died.

    • 0 avatar

      I have had the same thing happen to me when I was fixing up my Fury. Back then there were self service yards around here and I found a near perfect Fury, minus the 440 and 727 trans. Body was arrow straight. i could have saved a ton of time and money by buying it and swapping in my running gear and my car’s restored interior. But I could not do it. I was attached to MY car, not the one in the junkyard. Emotion plays a big part in this game, not logic…

  • avatar

    This is what being a true car-guy/gear-head is all about. Need more articles like this around, keep up the good work.

  • avatar

    Isn’t all the glass flat in that vehicle? If so you could have had a glass shop cut some pieces to size, no?

  • avatar

    Doggone it, you lost me with “Citroen”. Don’t you DARE putting anything foreign in this project. If an OEM gauge doesn’t work, make it work, or hang S&W gauges under the dash like we all used to do in a nice, chrome-and-contact-paper metal cluster! That’s the one thing I hold aginst you in the Impala project – that home made dash. Such blasphemy!

    Do it right the first time. When you get back, grab all the parts and glass you can find, the more the merrier.

  • avatar

    Back in the 60s I needed door glass for a 37 chev pickup. At the salvage yard I picked up tinted door glass from a 50s Desota and had the glass shop cut it using their pattern . Murilee ,to make things interesting, tell us what the parts cost.

  • avatar

    and, uh, how much would the whole Van have cost you? Don’t count towing ’cause everybody has a bud who was stupid,er, thoughtful enough to buy a pickup so you could borrow it whenever you need.

    • 0 avatar

      They never sell whole vehicles anymore.

      Liability and loss of revenue. Once it’s there, the car’s worth a few hundred bucks in scrap steel. Add on top of that and average (I’m totally making this up) $250 worth of parts sold off of it before they finally scrap it, and you’ve got nearly $1k worth of value to the yard.

      Some jurisdictions also have laws about never letting a car out once it’s been “scrapped”.

      • 0 avatar

        That’s why it’s sad seeing this go to the scrapyard. Around here most yards pay around $400.00 for trucks and vans, dunno what they pay in Colorado but I would have offered the owner more than that. I’m a roofer so I have plenty of free time this time of year, I would have went down and gotten it and visited my old friend in Colorado Springs. From the looks of it I wouldn’t even need my trailer, the towbar would have sufficed.

      • 0 avatar

        If I had the space (and 1/2 the actual time required), I’d definitely snag up valuable-but-worthless cars and either part them out to grateful enthusiasts or get them just good enough to get back on the road as a project driver/semi-beater.

        If you had a truck and flatbed you could show up cash and lowball offer in hand, and probably pick up a number of bargains.

        Though, I’m afraid the end game of that is me being the kooky old guy out in the sticks with four dozen decrepit cars on his lot.

    • 0 avatar

      Junkyard cars always have more to them than what they seem on the outside.

      I remember ending up with a VW Type 3 that looked fine, but the brakes were bad, the inside smelled of gas fumes, and the engine was running on only 3 cylinders. If I didn’t need the cash I would’ve scrapped that one.

      • 0 avatar

        Well yeah, on something like this you already know that you’re going to redo the brake system, at least some suspension work, maybe some electrical. This is a simple machine, even a moron could work on it. I would drop in a 360 with a 518 or rebuild the 727 and add a gear vendors overdrive.

  • avatar

    It makes me sick to my stomach to see this beauty in the boneyard, I have been wanting one of those for a long time. I would have given the idiot that scrapped it alot more than the junkyard gave him.

  • avatar

    Someone really needs to start 3d scanning some of these old parts for possible home 3d printing. I know it’s pretty expensive now, but as the prices come down on the goo that makes those things work, how nice would it be to just go online and get file for that impossible to find wiper reservoir bottle and print a new plastic one at home?

  • avatar

    Glad ye found a donor vehicle.

    Looking forward to a horde of pics of the end results or close-to-the-end results.

    That hirsute old codger pictured who braved the cold and the bureaucratic buffoons at the boarding gates looks a wee bit familiar but I am notoriously bad at recognizing mugs, cute, ugly, average and all permutations between horridly disfigured and angelic.

    Perhaps a “stare-down” at some time with both parties ascertaining the possible resultant horridly brutal battle would have no winner thus the staring ended with both almost-combatants turning 180-degrees and walking off?

    Hmmmmmm….. a once-oil rig worker in west Texas for thee????

    Slight possibility but possible!!!!!!!!

    Anyway good luck with a fantastically awesome van project!!!!!!!!

  • avatar

    Would it be classy and upscale to pry the “Dodge” letters off the front of the junkyard van and put them on the back door of your project… or is that something only a lowering, shag-carpet-laying, captain-chair-riding pimp would do?

  • avatar

    Lucky bastard with your flat glass split window project. My next step on my 1960 Chevy Wagon is a new windshield and that thing is at least $400, 5 feet wide, a foot deep, 50lbs and a 2 or 3 man job to put in. If I could find someone around here who wanted to do it.

    Luckily I have volunteered my Lemons team for the job.

  • avatar

    Very cool there Muralee.

    Sad that the van you are getting the parts from got sent to the junkyard as it almost looks like it could be drivable, assuming it had a rear end, but then seeing a missing valve cover leads me to think the van was DOA and thus was scrapped.

    Love the color though.

  • avatar

    All the self-service yards in my area have a “cars for sale” section where derelict vehicles that are still serviceable get one last shot at glory before being sent to that great parking lot in the sky.

    I obtained my ’72 Pontiac Ventura, my ’71 GMC Sprint, and my ’66 Biscayne in just that fashion. The Bisk wasn’t even destined for the sale section. I spotted it in the recieving area- just in time before it got sent to death row.

  • avatar

    A100s are BEGGING to have FREE CANDY spray painted on the sides.

  • avatar
    87CE 95PV Type Я

    Why not buy the whole van?

  • avatar

    Exactly, Type R. It didn’t belong in the boneyard to begin with. Just from what I can see in the pics I would have offered the owner that junked it 1K, maybe more. Someone had one for sale at Carlisle a couple of years ago for $900.00, but it was a total piece of junk.

  • avatar

    I can just see this van repainted the original color. With the bumpers and grill chromed, raised up in the back a bit with 10 inch raised white letter tires in back with baby moons all around and a set of sidepipes.

  • avatar

    Murilee, I think if I were you I would have grabbed all of the glass. if your luck is anything like mine one of your other windows will get damaged now. I would go back & grab the tail light, turn signal lenses and the headlight bezel.

    • 0 avatar

      I now have all the glass that fits my van (I have the side windows that open, this van has the fixed side glass). Got the one good taillight lens. The headlight bezels in the junkyard van are trashed. Going back today to get a few more things.

  • avatar

    Amazing find! I am wicked happy that you found parts for your project. Nothing beats the mental imagery of Murilee, in the junkyard, jumping up and down, squealing like a Japanese Schoolgirl.

    • 0 avatar

      “squealing like a Japanese Schoolgirl.”

      Clad in squealing Japanese schoolgirl attire?

      That would be worthy of a photo shoot and the resultant bevy of bountiful guffaws, chortles and assorted outbursts indicative of humor.

      All in good fun, of course, with no intent to actually attempt to convince anybody that the stocky grizzly bearish appearing bloke IS a Japanese schoolgirl.

      Still looks akin to the bloke I met in a confrontational situation but that was long ago and upon further reflection he would likely appear as older than the gent I likely mistook for what would likely be an old cootish fellow as the Old Disgruntled One has become what with advancing age relentlessly shoving me forward towards wherever my cremated remains are tossed…hopefully in a clean tidy dumpster behind a fast-food joint with an extensive value menu.

  • avatar

    “many layers of Homeless Choice™ brand clothes”

    I should add that the Honorable Utterance via written word above caused a chortle within the shanty.

  • avatar
    Diesel Fuel Only

    Look how narrow the rear trac is. Fairly common back then, I suppose.

  • avatar

    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,
    [email protected]

  • avatar

    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 .


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