Junkyard Find: 1976 Dodge Tradesman Van

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin
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junkyard find 1976 dodge tradesman van

The Dodge Tradesman cargo van of the 1970s was quite popular among customizers back in the days of 20% annual inflation and talk-box guitar solos, as we saw with this ’72 Tradesman Junkyard Find last year. In the very same San Francisco Bay Area wrecking yard, here’s a Slant-6 Tradesman that doesn’t quite qualify as a custom van— not with just tinted glass and aftermarket wheels— but is still a nice time capsule.

Chrysler kept the same basic design for its truck HVAC controls for nearly 20 years; my 1966 Dodge A100 has nearly identical cable-operated controls.

Slant-6 engine, 3-on-the-tree. Not very quick, but about as reliable as you could get in the 1970s.

You don’t see many of these vans with the single rear door option.

Just a plain steel box with the base engine, but it kept going for nearly 40 years.

Murilee Martin
Murilee Martin

Writer d'Elegance Brougham Landau.

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  • Peterj Peterj on Dec 23, 2013

    those rims are kinda awesome. a little elbow grease, i'd put them on my tacoma

  • -Nate -Nate on Dec 23, 2013

    The floors tell the story in old vans ~ no plumbing was hauled in this one . These vans were very good yes but they had their dangerous quirks : the steering idlers (they had two) would rip loose from the frame without warning . We bought a '79 Plymouth Voyager clone from Cal Trans , it was a special ordered 3/4 tom long frame with full interior , rows and rows of seats , rear AC , a 360 and 727 slushbox tranny ~ it ran for decades , always breezed through Ca. smog tests and eventually Jason had to seriously monkey with the smog devices to force it to fail so he got $1,500 for it , being a " passenger vehicle " in the Ca. vehicle retirement program . What a shame but by them it was badly dented up all 'round . When my Son was 12 he announced " look Pop , another RAPER VAN ! " as one rolled by . A Friend special ordered the long body passenger version in 1985 , slant six engine and four speed manual with 4' long stick shift ~ it went plenty fast fully loaded with bodies on the freeway . I'm waiting to see what Crabspirits does with this one . -Nate

  • Marty S Corey, thanks for your comment. Mercedes has many different models, and will survive. Jaguar is planning on only offering electric models and will be in trouble. They should continue their ICE models as long as possible, but have discontinued the F-Type already and will probably be discontinuing everything else. We purchased the current XF this year, which is a nice car, but would have been splendid if they had just continued the supercharged V-6 in it.By the way, I have really enjoyed your Continental and Eldorado series. Was just showing it to my barber, who owned several 1954-56 Eldorado convertibles.
  • Marques My father had one of these. A black 1984 Pulsar NX with a 5-speed stick and a grey interior. Dad always kept it in pristine shape-that black paint was shiny even in the middle of the night. I swear I could still smell the Rain Dance carnauba wax! The only issue that car ever had was that it was never driven enough-it would sit for 10 days at a time! The Hitachi carburetor on it(and other Nissans of the time) were known to be troublesome. It went to the boneyard at 72K miles when a hole got punched in the block. By that time the Pulsar had long ceased production.
  • VoGhost This is the only new vehicle I have the slightest interest in.
  • VoGhost I love it. Can't wait to get one. Finally, trucks are becoming actually capable, and it's great for America.
  • Peter Just waiting for Dr. Who to show up with his Tardis, and send these things back to the hellish dark dimension from which they came.