Car Collector's Corner: "Myrtle the Turtle" A 1964 Dodge Travco Motor Home

J Sutherland
by J Sutherland

The Dodge Motor Home was one of Chrysler’s best-kept secrets but it did get quite a reputation for reliability and function. This is a very rare 1964 version, and its owner is now an expert on this Mopar RV.

Ms. Capri is the current owner of this 64 Dodge Motor Home. Her pursuit of this iconic RV was no trivial task.

Capri saw a 1963 version of this Dodge in her hometown and immediately started a harassment campaign with the owner. She met with limited success. In fact, the guy was so sick of Capri that she thought he might consider a restraining order.

Undaunted, Capri expanded her search into Montana where she located this classic 1964 Dodge Motor Home. The owner “was in over his head on it” Capri explained because, “it had no heat and mushy brakes so we drove it home that way.” Once it was home, Capri located a shop manual and she laughingly added, “not many women get excited about a shop manual, but I’m one of them because it’s been a godsend.”

Capri’s first mission was to personally take on a thorough detailing for the old Travco. The results are spectacular. This RV is nearly 50 years old, but it looks like new inside. There were some issues with the floor and seats, but generally the work has been minimal. Capri focused on a period correct theme for the Dodge Motor Home: This RV has dishes, curtains and cutlery that would look right at home in a 1964 home. The only thing that would add to the ambiance would be a portable turntable playing a mint condition 45-rpm version of Please Please Me by The Beatles.

Guys don’t notice curtains, but Capri had a closet full of magazines including Mechanics Illustrated and Popular Mechanics from 1964. Those definitely did set male reference points for time and place far better than a knife and fork set. This RV was built long before a portable satellite dish could pull in the world on a unit the size of a pie plate. Reading material, not CNN, was your window to all outside events back in 1964.

This is a 27-foot version of the Dodge Motor home so it has a very rare rear door option. This was the last year for the pushbutton transmission. This old RV has that option to shift its 318 cubic inch poly V-8 through the gears.

Capri added that she is “surprised at how little gas the old Dodge needs to go back and forth,” but many older car guys know how much torque is produced in the 318 poly. They’d like a little more punch so Capri’s husband is researching the value of a 6-pack carb upgrade. No word on how that might affect the MPG rating. The only part replaced to this point was a cracked exhaust manifold.

Parts are expensive for these old Travcos. Capri explained that this example was well looked after because it came with a full array of the difficult to replace things like factory lights and shades. Clearly this RV didn’t spend a lifetime hauling kids on vacations. Lamps are usually the first casualties in a long list of things that urchins will break.

Capri is the only member of her family who “likes old things,” so this ancient RV is an enigma to them. She counters their skepticism by pointing out that “new trailers blow over, these things are more solid.” The other thing is an intangible feature that you’ll find with old trailers and campers. They are comfortable in a way that no new trailer can equal. They make you feel like you’re going back to a time when a vacation was a huge adventure and not an expectation. These old units smell like wood not plastic. If you want to experience anything close you have to find a house built in the 1950s, not a condo built last year.

Capri gets the philosophy better than most people twice her age, and she protects the heritage of this unique vehicle better than the original owner.

She’s made a few concessions to the 21st Century. This RV now has smoke and CO detectors plus a full array of fire extinguishers. They’ve also replaced the original low back driver’s and passenger’s seats with newer ones from a diesel push RV because some things should stay in the past. Those tiny factory seats are a great example.

They have more plans ahead with the Travco. The windows were resealed. Now, the sliding ones won’t open and as Capri explained, “ you get a lot of people who want to talk to you about the old Dodge.” For now, the 64 Dodge is fully functional. Everything from the toilet to the furnace works perfectly and that’s rare in new RVs.

They’ve done some significant trips in the Travco. The longest journey has been 600 miles and many more are on the horizon. For now, Myrtle the Turtle is in great hands. Incidentally, Capri gave the old Dodge that name because “it looks like a turtle and it brings its own shell.”

Give an old ride a name and it becomes part of the family and Myrtle is clearly part of Capri’s family.

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J Sutherland
J Sutherland

Online collector car writer/webmaster and enthusiast

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  • Roger628 Roger628 on May 10, 2012

    This brings back memories of the very first big road trip I went on as 6 year old. We lived in Western Canada and went east to Montreal for Expo 67, then on to the Maritimes , then back west, thru US & Canada routes. It was a dusty construction detour somewhere where I first saw one of these. Pickup Campers or trailers were pretty much the only choices then, then seeing this bus-like thing move under its own power, that was cool. I'm not much of an RV guy, but IMO there are 3 great US Motor Home designs, this, the GMC Front-drive home 10 years later, and the Vixen, about 10 years after that. Here's a link to the latter. No wonder it flopped, it was just too damn efficient and rational.

  • Polishdon Polishdon on May 20, 2012

    My parents had a '68 Travco 27 foot RV. I travelled all over the US in that RV. We upgraded the 318 to a 413 engine and BOY WAS THERE A DIFFERENCE ! I miss that RV. It was totally cool, but VERY HARD to find parts and repair. I wish her the best. I sold the RV off about 6-7 years ago after their deaths to a guy who was going to restore it.

  • Redapple2 Another bad idea from the EVIL gm Vampire.
  • Daniel J Alabama is a right to work state so I'd be interested in how this plays out. If a plant in Alabama unionized, there are many workers who's still oppose joining and can work.
  • ToolGuy This guest was pretty interesting.
  • NJRide So this is an average age of car to be junked now and of course this is a lower end (and now semi-orphaned) product. But street examples seem to still be worth 2500? So are cars getting junked only coming in because of a traumatic repair? If not it seems a lot of cars being junked that would still possibly worth more than scrap.Also Murilee I remember your Taurus article way back what is the king of the junkyard in 2024?
  • AMcA I applaud Toyota for getting away from the TRD performance name. TuRD. This is another great example of "if they'd just thought to preview the name with a 13 year old boy."