Junkyard Find: 1977 Plymouth Voyager Conversion Van

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin

Plymouth sold trucks through 1942, gave up on the idea, then returned to the truck business with the Trail Duster (rebadged Dodge Ramcharger) and Voyager (rebadged Dodge Sportsman) for 1974. Sales of the big Voyager van continued through the 1983 model year, after which the name went onto the new K-platform-derived Plymouth minivan. Here's one of those all-but-forgotten first-generation Voyagers, found in a Denver self-service yard recently.

junkyard find 1977 plymouth voyager conversion van

I'd found one discarded Sportsman-sibling Voyager ( a propane-fueled '74 with two-tone paint in California) before, but today's Junkyard Find is a more interesting discovery.

It's a beefy one-ton Chrysler B-Series van with the long wheelbase and extended body, with the complete late-1970s conversion-van treatment.

Someone had pried off the badges for the company that did the conversion, but we can assume it was one of the many outfits that did such work in Indiana or Utah.

It appears to have been sold new at a now-defunct Chrysler-Plymouth dealership in McPherson, Kansas, just outside Wichita and 470 miles east of its final parking spot.

The paint has been mostly burned off by 45 years of High Plains sun, but it was once a mix of Wedgewood Blue and Regatta Blue.

Inside, it's still quite nice. Unlike most conversion vans and RVs I find in car graveyards, it's not a terrifying bodily-fluids-spattered murder scene and/or Superfund site. Note the shag-carpeted ceiling.

The driver could control the lighting, entertainment system, and major appliances from this panel.

The four front seats are these luxurious swivel chairs with armrests.

They appear to be Chrysler-made.

What more do you need?

You need music on 8-track, of course!

The real conversion-van players in 1977 had TV on the road, and so there's this slick little Sony behind the driver's head. Was it color or black-and-white?

It wasn't a full-fledged camper, but long road trips would have been pleasant in here.

The engine lived under a doghouse behind the front axle, so you could call this a mid-engined van.

The engine is some member of the LA small-block V8 family. A 318 (5.2-liter) with 150 horsepower was standard equipment, but that poor engine would have been stressed to death in a hurry trying to haul this van's 5,000 or more pounds. I think this is the 170-horse optional 360 (5.9-liter), which had a pretty good 280 lb-ft of torque in 1977. It could also be the seventh engine swapped into this van during its life.

How many miles? With the five-digit odometer, it could be 53,863 or 953,863. The unworn interior suggests that this really could be the true mileage.

Yes, I bought the Voice Warning box (with its tiny phonograph player) out of the 280ZX next to this van.

Rare, not so valuable.

Why buy the Voyager instead of a Sportsman? Because it's a Plymouth.

This dealer-promo film for the Sportsman explains some of the features you'd find in the near-identical Voyager.

[Images by the author]

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  • Scoutdude Scoutdude on Oct 04, 2022

    I know that dealership. Way back when my friend's grandfather was that Turner that owned the Chrysler Plymouth International dealer, in MacPherson. Of course the International was dropped when they didn't deem the Scout reason enough to keep the franchise. I moved from there in late 1978 so it is possible I saw this running around town way back when.

  • Art Vandelay Art Vandelay on Oct 06, 2022

    I love that this never got upgraded...still has the CRT and 8 track. Someone needs to save it and do one of those #vanlife channels with it

  • 28-Cars-Later Mark it zero.
  • C C And it’s ironic that California, notoriously the toughest state when it comes to vehicles and air quality, has no such prohibitions against idling by recent model vehicles bearing the Certified Clean Idle registration sticker on the power unit (tractor or cab) FOR ANY REASON OR FOR NO REASON AT ALL. This apparently carries no weight with New York City, putting the lie to the environmentalist motivation for the law and exposing it for the money-grab it has become.
  • C C One major issue with the citizen rat program is that neither the complainant nor the DEP officers who must validate the complaint and turn it into a summons have the technical or legal expertise to recognize when a vehicle is engaged in permitted idling covered by one of the exceptions in the no-idling law (idling necessary to the operation of processing equipment such as platform lifts, cargo heating and refrigeration equipment, etc.). Summonses are issued, hearings are conducted, decisions are handed down by the OATH administrative hearing officer, and if you’re lucky to get a reversal in your favor, DEP will appeal it to a board that invariably overturns the legally correct HO decision and you have no due process rights in the matter (for example, you can’t subpoena the complainant or DEP officer to question them about the exceptions that existed at the time the alleged violation occurred). Guilty until proven innocent, which is virtually impossible.
  • TheEndlessEnigma With the capability of mapping on phones and phone connectivity into cars, built in navigation is not needed. Waze is also one of the most inaccurate mapping apps, it still has problems with things as simple as one-way streets. Last time I tried using it, about 3 years ago, I was driving in DC. As anyone who has driven in DC knows that city is stuffed full of one-way streets along with the spoke configuration in the central city area. Waze insisted on routing me the wrong way down one way streets treating them as if there were two-way street. A journey that should have been a bit over 3 miles point to point ended up something more than 15 miles and an hour.
  • Mike Beranek Al, Schaumburg doesn't need ANOTHER Starbuck's. It needs another Portillo's.
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