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Driving the 840-hp Demon

Durango SRT at the track

Widebody Challenger drive

Dodge B-series Vans: Sportsman, Ram Van, Ram Wagon, and Voyager

by David Zatz

The first modern Dodge vans, the Forward Control A-vans, lasted until 1970; their success led the company to quickly invest in a follow up series (as it would turn out, the only follow up series).

B300 Tradesman van

The new vans were named B100, B200, and B300, but are usually just called “the B-vans.” They were made in Fenton, Missouri, at the start.

The B-vans were phased in over 1970 and 1971; they started as 1971 models. Radically different from the A-vans, the B-series were changed to meet customer requests. Engineers cut wind resistance to make them quieter and increase highway mileage, and dropped the old plate-glass, split windshield.

1972 Sportsman van

The interior was brought upscale, with some parts from passenger cars; and the front suspension was switched to an independent design with coil springs. Power steering and brakes were available across the board, with optional air conditioners and fresh-air heater/defrosters. The vans came with a single sun visor, two-speed wipers, single driver’s seat, turn signals, heat, painted hubcaps, backup lights, and some other items considered essential today.

royal sportsman

There was much more space than in the A-vans, especially if the buyer skipped the 109 inch wheelbase and went for the 127 inch wheelbase (or a Maxivan, unveiled in calendar-year 1971, which had 18 inches of additional length aft of the rear axle, for a total length of 212 inches).

1976 dashboard

Side doors were hinged, with an integrated step, near the center of the body; the Maxivan could take up to 15 passengers, and Dodge made school-bus versions (as they had with the A-van). The heavy vans had a standard 198 cubic inch slant sixes, with an optional 225 six or 318 V8 in their early years; yet the maximum gross vehicle weight was 7,700 pounds.

1982 dodge van interior

The B-vans were just five inches longer than the A-vans (176 and 194 inches), despite the longer wheelbase, and had much more interior space (206-246 cubic feet). The engine was still kept inside the van, rather than under the hood; the hood itself was mainly used to get to the accessories and check the fluids. The engine was under a sturdier plastic cover than it had been in the A-vans, with better sound insulation.

body drop

Throughout their life, the B-vans had rear leaf springs and shock absorbers, with an independent coil front suspension. Steering was power recirculating ball, with a tight turning radius (until safety-related changes to the 1998 vans increased the turning radius).

Chris Coleman added that the B-van was a unibody design, reinforced by two full-length open U-channels welded to the floorpan. It shared numerous components with Dodge trucks, but never used a true frame. “Like most unibody vehicles, it had a separate bolt-on front K-member to carry the front suspension, steering, and engine.”

modified wideboy B-van

In 1971, the Dodge Royal Sportsman, Custom Sportsman, and Sportsman versions of the B-van came with windows all around and five-passenger seating (with optional seating for 8, 12, or 15). The standard cargo van had many window combinations, but only one standard seat; all seats were covered in vinyl, with front bucket seats optional.

sportsman van

Dodge marked the 127-inch-wheelbase Sportsman series and “Van” to the local governments as personnel carriers, emergency vehicles, and cargo van.

1971 Sportsman Wagons 109" wb 127" wb Maxiwagon
Side door height* 47.2" 47.2" 47.2"
Side door width* 49.2" 49.2" 49.2"
Max pass. area height 53.9" 53.9" 53.9"
Rear door to seat-back

95.2" 113.2" 131.2"
Rear door to engine cover 117.3" 135.3" 153.3"
Overall length 176.0" 194.0" 212.0"
Overall width 79.0" 79.0" 79.0"
Max width inside 69.9" 69.9" 69.9"
Overall height 80.8 " 80.8" 80.8"
Turning Radius: B100 36.5' 41.6' 41.6'
Turning Radius: B200 37.9' 43.3' 43.3'
Turning Radius: B300 40.7' 49.5' 49.5'

* These figures were the same as in 1992 - but other figures were all different.

1971 engine HP (Gross/Net) Torque
225 I-6 145/110 215/185
318 V8 230/155 320/260

1972 dodge tradesman van

For the 1972 vans, Dodge made the 225 standard, dropping the 198, and making the 360 V8 optional. Electronic ignition came in 1973, standard on B100 and B200, optional on B300; the vans also got standard power brakes, and a 8,200 gross vehicle weight option.

speedo

The popular Kary Van, which had an extended height (6 feet, 2 inches), was also added; it let people walk in the cabin, and was available in 10 and 12 foot body lengths, two body widths, and single or dual rear wheels; it was also available as a chassis for motor-home installation.

karyvan

The 1974 Maxivans (127 inch wheelbase only) saw the first sliding door; and Dodge replaced the grille. Vacuum booster brakes were standard on B200 and B300, optional on the B100. An optional one-piece rear door was added in 1975 for better visibility and loading; a durable hard-service interior was brought out as an option; and a set of "GVW" packages were offered to make it easier to build up the van to a desired capacity.

A new plant in Windsor, Ontario (Pillette Road, or Plant #6) was completed to help fill demand.

fleet of dodge vans

The vans were so successful that a new version was added — the 1974 Plymouth Voyager, identical to the Dodge Sportsman, but expected to be used for passengers rather than cargo. The Dodge MaxiWagon was moved over as the Extended Body Voyager. The Plymouth’s sales were never high.

dodge-based superior ambulance

The 1976 vans gained an optional noise insulation package, and suspension tweaks to improve the ride; a warning light appeared when the transmission fluid was too hot or low. Dodge also launched its Street Van, designed to look (and be) customized. Two new engines were optional on B200 and B300: the 400 and 440 cubic inch V8, the first B-van engines bigger than the 318.

street van

Late in the 1976 model year, Dodge added a four-speed manual for better gas mileage and lower highway noise, before Chevy or Ford had four speed manuals in their vans.

four speed manual

In 1976, sales were up to 184,583 vans; in 1977, they hit 226,066 vans, making the B-van Dodge’s best selling truck group (compare that to 215,409 light-duty conventional pickups). Ford sold just 179,820 Econoline vans in 1976.

suspension

Dodge refreshed the 1977 vans with high-back swivel seats, upgraded carpet, quick-release bench seats, privacy glass, and the fuel pacer option; they created the Van Clan Club for owners. The popular single rear door became standard, with the dual rear door optional, rather than the other way around. Five new metallic colors and four straight shades joined five continuing colors. Maxiwagon and Maxivan continued Chrysler's exclusive 15-passenger capacity for wagons and the longest interior cargo length for vans.

plymouth van

Dark gray privacy glass (as well as normal tinted glass) was a new option on Sportsman five and eight passenger wagons and vans.

1977 camper

The refresh continued for the 1978 vans, with a rear and interior reskin. Bigger windows were fitted, thanks to a lower beltline; the 127 inch wheelbase vans saw their doors move forward. The new roof could have vents or a sunroof, and a new dashboard had a spring-loaded glove box door and easier to reach fuse block. The air conditioner gained integrated center and outboard outlets.

van dashboard

Nicer trim and seats, including a color-keyed formed-steel seat riser, and two-tone paint added to the package. Front door vent windows got a positive detent latch and release button. On Sportsman and Tradesman vans, even the climate control panel was replaced with one taken from the car lines, with four fan speeds.

maxivan seating

The new color-keyed steering column included an ignition switch and steering column lock, with new two-spoke, deep-dish steering wheels similar to those in cars, and woodgrain appliqué on higher trim levels. Cars without power steering got bigger steering wheels.

steering wheel

Under the hood, a redesigned heater/vent system had an air-blending temperature control system, which had faster temperature response and better air distribution.

swivel seatsThanks to the noise reduction and ride improvement of 1976 and the 1977-78 refreshes, the B-vans were now much more civilized, and quickly became the institutional van of choice.

The B-vans were also starting to be used as recreational vehicles, and Dodge helped by creating a second row “travel seat” option for the Royal Sportsman: it could be faced front or rear, with an optional table between the second and third seat rows.

seating and sleeping

The seats could be laid flat for sleeping, as well. Even the front seats could recline and swivel, if buyers of the Sportsman model opted for the Command Chairs. They included the dual armrests that would be a hallmark of Chrysler minivans, and swiveled through 360° with positive detents for full-forward and full-rear positions; they were upholstered in textured velour.

inside the KaryVan

Those wanting to get in on the CB craze could do it with a choice of an AM-40 channel CB transceiver, or an AM-FM stereo 40-channel CB transceiver; the company also had AM, AM/FM, AM/FM stereo, and AM/FM stereo with 8-track tape players.

On the Maxivan, an optional wraparound rear quarter window greatly increased rear visibility, and buyers could go up to 9,000 GVWR . The longer body allowed for respacing of the seats; more usable space was provided for all 1978 wagons and vans by moving the passenger seat inboard by one inch. New engine covers, four inches shorter, helped as well. The smaller cover, used on the slant six, 318, and 360, was also two inches narrower on the passenger side.

1979 was a difficult year for Chrysler as a whole; sales of the vans were down a whopping 48% due to gas prices, and RV sales fell off a cliff, so that Dodge was forced to shut down its industry-leading RV and camper operations. Sales plummeted to 151,070, dropping behind even GMC. Part of the problem was a general slump in the domestic market; another was Chrysler’s increasingly obvious financial problems, which may have caused fleet managers to think twice.

Dodge full-size van based ambulance

The Sportsman wagon was officially reclassified as a truck (it had been a car before) so Chrysler could meet CAFE standards. Quad rectangular headlights (replacing the standard single round headlights), Tuff steering wheels, and AM/FM stereos with either 8-tracks or CB radios were added as options, but the 440 V8 engine (and its smaller and less long-lived first cousin, the 400) were gone.

1980 dodge van-based ambulance

In 1980, the three-speed manual transmission was finally dropped, leaving a standard four-speed manual for B100 and B200, and the TorqueFlite on the B300. Single large vented windows replaced dual windows on the sliding doors; a vented rear door window was optional, along with power windows and a trip computer, reading lights, halogen headlights, and a Dolby-enabled cassette stereo. 1980 sales fell to 80,183 Ram Vans, 22,840 Ram Wagons, and 7,264 Plymouth Voyagers. Production in Fenton stopped, with Windsor supplying all the B-vans until the end.

1982 dodge van interior

Paul Holm wrote that the original ads for Mini Ram Van portrayed it as a window van, a little lower than normal vans, with stock chrome bumpers; and emphasized the passenger van.

For 1981, the names were all changed: Sportsman was replaced by Ram Wagon, model designations were upped by 50 (B150, B250, B350), and a new Mini-Ram van on a 109.6 inch wheelbase (with more brightwork, big chrome rearview mirrors, and a 36 gallon tank). The Mini-Ram van ranged in weight from 3,274 to 3,646 pounds.

The Wagon was similar to the van, but added windows, fresh air heater/defroster, ten inch inside mirror, padded sun visors, low-back bucket front seats, and a quick-release three-passenger vinyl rear bench seat (with three seat belts). The Long Range Van was added with a big gas tank. The (CB350) Kary Van was still available in 10, 12, and 15 foot lengths.

dodge mini ram

The base engine was the slant six, now with 95 horsepower at 3,600 rpm; the 318 had 140 horsepower at the same revs, and a 360 four-barrel was sold with 180 hp, again at 3,600 rpm. Two years later, in 1983, the 318 was dropped to 135 hp but a new four-barrel 318 was added with 160 horsepower, more than the pre-smog two-barrel 318s.

1982 Dodge KaryVan ambulance

1981 sales were even lower than those of 1980: 48,702 vans, 18,548 wagons, and 4,849 Voyagers. On the lighter side, 1982 sales rose: the company sold 60,870 Ram Vans, 34,614 Ram Wagons, and 4,715 Plymouth Voyager vans— a total which was slightly lower than GM’s 101,932 Chevy Van production, and their Sportvans combined. Ford came in with the top sales, 125,476 Econolines plus 33,668 Club Wagons. Dodge’s dominance appeared to be at an end.

dodge ram wagon

In 1984, the Mini-Ram Van was dropped, its name moved to the new front-drive minivan; it was powered by a 101 horsepower 2.2 liter engine. The Ram Van now had computer-selected front springs, a 60 amp alternator (replacing the 48 amp model), and a Value Wagon edition with a 36 gallon fuel tank, more gauges, and more chromework.

Dodge’s Ram Wagons had the industry's only single rear door. New standard equipment included bright surround moldings on all vented rear quarter windows, and tinted glass; wagons had high-back seats and vans had low-back seats.

1986 Dodge vans only had restyled bumpers and grilles, but the 1988 vans had the first major powertrain change in many years: the newly developed 3.9 liter V6, created for the Dodge Dakota from the 360 V8, replaced the venerable slant six, providing 125 horsepower and 195 foot-pounds of torque, with fuel injection for drivability and economy.

The 1988 vans also gained a new dual airbag equipped instrument panel; a longer new front moved the engines forward, shrank the doghouse (interior engine bay), and improved front-to-rear access. The brakes were enlarged, the suspension was refined, the body was made stronger and stiffer, and assembly accuracy was increased. The front doors had better seals; a passenger airbag shutoff was added for cargo vans; the spare tire moved under the floor to increase usable cargo area; audio was upgraded, and adjustable seat belt turning loops were added.

1988 McCoy Miller ambulance

Carburetors came off the 318 at last, and, with a new roller cam, that venerable engine - rebadged 5.2 liter - produced much more power: 170 hp, 262 lb-ft of torque. A five speed manual transmission replaced the four-speed manual if you got the 3.9 V6; and, mid-year, a four-speed automatic transmission was available with the 3.9 and 5.2. The 360 (now 5.9) continued with a carburetor, but only for one year: it got the fuel injector and roller cam in the 1989 vans, with 190 hp and 292 lb-ft of torque.

The 1990 Ram Vans gained optional rear-wheel antilock brakes, with a heavy-duty four-speed automatic transmission. Compared to the 1971 vans, the 1987-97 had the same hinged door opening, a somewhat smaller sliding door opening, 2.3 more inches of interior width, and 0.7” less interior height.

(1992 figures) 109.6 Van 127.6 Van Maxi Van
Rear door to driver's
seat back (in rearmost position)
92.9 110.9 136.9
Rear door to engine cover 120.1 138.1 162.1
Exterior length 180.7 198.7 224.7
Cargo volume 206.6 246.7 304.5

Things started to pick up with the “new Chrysler” in the early 1990s. Dodge finally brought the two base engines up to modern times, with sequential multiple-port fuel injection, a tuned intake manifold, and other changes; the “Magnum” engines in the 1992 vans produced 180 hp, 225 lb-ft (V6) and 235 hp, 285 lb-ft (318 V8).

Three-point seat belts were also added to outboard positions of the rear seat. At this time, a one-inch diameter front stabilizer bar was used with gas-charged shocks in front and back. Front brakes were power discs and rears were power drums. Steel 15 x 6.5 inch wheels were standard (B350 used 16 x 6). Front payloads ranged from 1,175 to 4,450 lb. The alternator was up to 75 amps.

cng powered van

The compressed natural gas version of the Ram Van and Wagon appeared in selected fleets; it would be generally available in 1995.

In the 1993s, the 360 got the same Magnum treatment for 230 hp and 325 lb-ft of torque; it also got returnless fuel injection, which was added to the other engines in 1994. Other 1994 changes included revised camshafts to broaden the torque curve of the 3.9 and increase the torque of the 5.2 (by 10 lb-ft); non-CFC refrigerant; optional four-wheel antilock brakes; front side door beams; better roof crush protection; new body panels; and standard automatic transmissions.

The 1995s gained a standard driver-side airbag and knee bolster, with four-wheel antilock brakes available on heavy-duty 3500 models up to 9,000 pounds GVWR. Then, for 1996, an electronic-control four-speed automatic was added; ventilation was improved for vehicles without air conditioning; and the base GVWR was raised to 6,010 pounds.

1994 Engine

Power (bhp)

Torque

5.9 (360) 230@4,000

330@3200

5.2 (318) 220@4400

295@3200

3.9 V6 175 @4800

225@3200

Dodge increased antitheft protection, had the side and rear cargo doors open wider, put in a power connector for easier conversions, and marked underhood service points more clearly. Reclining cloth bucket seats became optional, along with a redesigned Rear Plumbing Group with quick disconnects. The company redesigned door check straps and made a cassette stereo was standard.

long wheelbase 1998 dodge B-van

Gas mileage in the 1997 vans ranged from 15/17 with the 3.9 to 11/14 with the 360 3500 Wagon (the 1500 or 2500 wagon were rated at 12/17 with the 360). The 318’s dizzying variety of powertrains and models varied mileage from 12/14 to 13/17. Automatic transmissions in 1997 were the 32RH and 36RH three-speed automatics and the 46RE four-speed overdrive automatic. The alternator was now 117 amps for the van and 136 amps for the wagon, and a 35 gallon tank was standard.

1992-2000
109.6 WB 127.6 WB MaxiVan
Rear to seat back* 91.2 109.2 135.2
Rear to engine cover 119.6 137.6 163.6
Exterior length 187 205 231
Cargo volume 206.6 246.7 304.5
Ground clearance 6.8 7.2 8.4
Drag coefficient**   0.488  
Frontal area**   36.27 sq ft  
Turning radius** 40.5 ft 46.2 ft 52.4 ft
* (in rearmost position)
** 2000 figures; earlier not available.

The 1998s had a power boost for the 360 (5.9) engine to 245 horsepower and 335 lb-ft of torque; suspension refinements and larger standard tires with better brakes; a stronger, stiffer, more accurately assembled body; new front doors with better seals; cosmetic changes; driver and passenger airbags with lower force; a passenger airbag shutoff for cargo vans; and underfloor spare tire to increase usable cargo area; a new instrument panel with built in vents; better driver controls and audio systems; adjustable seat belt turning loops; and a “GVWR realignment.”

1998 maxivan interior

In addition, the engine compartment was moved forward to meet safety standards and improve walk-through access (see Tannon Weber's review for more on this.) Customers responded, and sales went up.

mirror

In the 2000s, V8 gas mileage went up. The 36RH automatic had been dropped, leaving the 32RH and 46RE. Dodge wrote:

...payloads and cargo room on most models [go] all the way up to 4245 lbs. and 299.5 cu. ft. on the 3500 Maxivan and the 15-passenger 3500 Maxiwagon -- the most available payload of any full-size van. ... [it has a] 5.9-liter V-8 that -- when properly equipped -- tows trailers weighing as much as 8600 lbs.

1998 dodge maxivan

Dodge bragged about double-sealed front doors with laser-welded inner panels and door beams for side impact protection. Dodge noted a wishbone-type independent front suspension.

2001 Dodge B3500 cargo van

The 2000 Ram Van and Wagon had “next-generation” driver and front passenger air bags, with standard rear-wheel antilock brakes (four-wheel anti-lock brakes were optional); Dodge also used new hood-mounted windshield washer spray nozzles and chrome-clad wheels. Vans got standard six-speaker audio systems.

2000 Dodge Ram Van

Many Rams were used for wheelchair-dependent people; the roof could be raised and a wheelchair lift added, with custom seating. The Automobility program allowed for cash rebates for certain “adaptive driving devices” on conversion vans. The old idea of different interior packages for people in different trades was also present in 2000, now named Tradesman Groups; they could include Crown Slide-Down™ ladder racks, shelving units, and a full-width metal partition behind the seats and rubber floor mat.

wheelchair-capable dodge van

The B-vans, put into production in 1970; by the end, with ever-slower sales, the old lines and tooling may have hurt the vans’ once-leading quality. Perhaps their end was inevitable, in a world with far fewer van sales and “good enough” vehicles from GM and Ford. The company never put in the newer 4.7 liter engines; they stayed with the Magnum 5.2 and 5.9 to the end.

white van body

It seems odd that the new Ram trucks never spawned new vans (as the A100 was a van, pickup, and medium-duty truck), or that the Durango was never taken that one step further. But Robert Eaton was too scared to invest much in new product; after Iaccoca left, plans from new subcompacts to supercharged Neons to revitalizing full-sized vans all fell apart, in favor of stacking up emergency cash. In 2003, a Mercedes-controlled Chrysler shut down production of the B-vans, in favor of their own Sprinter.

Conversion vans

Conversions of Dodge vans into campers and “lifestyle vehicles” were always popular. As late as 2000, Dodge wrote:

Conversion vans, available from Dodge dealers, offer a broad selection of entertainment and comfort features important to a family's travel and recreational needs.  Buyers can choose video players, TV monitors, game-ready electronics, rear air conditioning and front and rear power seating. Ram Conversion Vans can also be equipped as a van motor home, with onboard electrical power supplies that have 12- and 110-volt outlets for items such as microwave ovens and refrigerators. Fresh water hookups can also be added to camper vans and motor homes.

Dodge Ram Conversion Vans -- built by factory-approved conversion specialists -- are the only line of full-size vans available in three lengths (187.2 in., 205.2 in. and 231.2 in. Maxi) and three load ranges (1500, 2500 and 3500 lbs.). This wide choice allows customers to tailor their van to specific needs and requirements.

Common repairs (by Tannon Weber)

Steering column repairs: ignition switch and turn signals

As far as repairs and failures go, they basically fall in line with the A through M body rear wheel drive platforms, as well as the trucks. They share the same engines, so other than a little bit of extra heat under the engine cover and a little different design on some of the air cleaners, one finds that the motors, transmissions, basic driveshaft components, springs, axles, and the like are all very Chrysler in their designs.

welding

Having occasionally used B-series vans for parts in junkyards, I will acknowledge that it's sometimes a bit tough to get some things out. Pulling cylinder heads, for example, is tough, as getting the exhaust manifolds off the heads with the head still bolted to the engine is a very tight operation. The task, though, can be worthwhile, especially in light of the 302 and 308 castings that some of the heads used that made their way into the vans. One doesn't have to chase down trucks for some of these parts for their RWD cars.

One other downside that I saw with all three vans I've used at work is that their bumpers don't take well to some tow trucks. The driver might think that the bumper is solid enough to allow the hook+strap tow method to work, but it inevitably bends the bumper. The last generation vans lacking chrome bumpers are especially vulnerable, so there are lots and lots of vans used by tradesmen running around looking like they've been on a bumper cart track when they've probably just hit the occasional parking space post or trash can, or had the wrong towing method used. Oh, I've also seen plenty of B-vans pre-98 with mirrors that don't stay in place because the plastic retainer under the cover is broken or stripped.

Reviews: Tannon Weber

I've driven three B-series vans at work for extended periods of time: a 1984 Dodge Royal 350 extended length with all of the seats taken out for cargo, a 1997 Dodge Ram 2500 Cargo Van, and a 1998 Dodge Ram 3500 Passenger Van of extended length with the seats removed for cargo. I've also driven a smattering of other Dodges that we have at work, along with other American brands, and they each have their strengths and weaknesses.

Having driven the 1984 and the 1997 B-van, it's clear that they didn't really change a lot other than the front frascia. This isn't necessarily a bad thing. Both vans still shared the same interior design, with the same dashboard/gauges/radio placement, the same seat designs that still went back through the seventies, and the same interior door and window frame paneling. These vans were incredible in traffic as they could U-turn in the same space as your average modern mid-size sedan. The smallest engine of the bunch was in the 1997, which had a 318 mated to a 727 Torqueflite (that's right, no overdrive), but as a Magnum motor, probably outperformed the 360 with the Quadrajet in the 1984. The 1998 has a 360 with an A518, and easily moves itself plus a cargohold full of equipment.

powertrain

The downside of these vans in my eyes is entry and egress. They were no worse than the GM product for decades, but I find that I still have to take care as to where I place my left foot when I attempt to step in and swing my right leg in. If I don't position myself right I end up awkwardly attempting to avoid the door jamb. This is especially bad on the '98 though, due to a 1998 redesign that moved the driver and passenger seats back, along with the dash and steering wheel, while leaving the doors in the same relative position. At least I finally have a tilt-wheel in the '98, so I theoretically can alleviate some of the entry/egress problems when I remember to use it.

2000 Dodge Ram Wagon

The 1998+ design also has some other issues, especially in windowless cargo configurations. The driver and passenger sit really, really far back in the van. It's very hard to see to the right behind the van, and it's even difficult on the left. There are certain driveway angles that pose problems for attempting to safely enter traffic. Additionally, the relocation of all of this came with a change in the steering that removes the tight turning of the previous van, so U-turns are to be avoided as they won't be successful. I know that some of the redesign was for front crash safety, of which the new design does much better than the old, but the steering change requires a lot of getting used to.

The '98+ models at least gained a lot of creature comforts. The seats finally left the old E-body designs and went to a high-backed, comfortable, bolstered design that includes folding armrests on the van I'm driving, and the engine cover's redesign finally has a decent cupholder for 44 ounce drinks. The side mirrors are better too, and don't tend to adjust themselves due to wind resistance on the freeway like the older design does, and the one advantage that the driver's seating position in the van offers is that the sun visors almost never need to be used.

Unfortunately for Dodge, their vans fell short once GM and Ford finally figured out what they needed to do. The GM redesign in the late nineties gave their vans car-like ride and extremely easy entrance and egress, and while many of their fleet vans are underpowered, the Fords, as new vans, were made to be extremely comfortable as well. I like my van, but I know it's not perfect, and I'm glad that it has the power that it does, as that's one of its most redeeming qualities.

Other Dodge van reviews and notes

Stephen Boswell wrote: I have owned a 1977 B-200 Sportsman SE pop-top camper van with a 360 since new, and it is a great vehicle! The only problem I ever had with it was that the original "silent" timing chain stretched and had to be replaced after 90,000 miles. Although I also have a 22' travel trailer with a Ram tow vehicle, I seldom use it because the camper van is so convenient, faster, easier to drive and offers almost all of the same creature comforts as the travel trailer.

“318a383” wrote: I'll likely be driving a carbureted B van as long as they are available and I'm able. I've got two; a 1979 B200 318 and 1981 B150 slant six, which are much better for me than my previous Chevyvan. I like the comparative ease of repairing the Dodge - try changing a wiper motor or heater core or fuse in a 1982 Chevyvan and you'll understand. The main consideration for me is gas economy and I doubt I'll ever see a Chevy or Ford equipped to outperform an old B with an overdrive four on the floor. The plastic gas tank alone makes it worth buying a Dodge.

paint shop

The main drawbacks are that the turning radius is wider than a highway tractor-trailer b-train (though my vans were well-used when I got them and may have incorrect steering parts), and for us here in the rust-belt, the suspension is not as corrosion resistant as Chevs/Fords with their full frames; rear spring hanger mounting and front control arms could stand to be re-engineered to be less prone to rust failure. Also the springs, both coil and leaf, are weak.

We would like to thank Don Bunn for his article in the Plymouth Bulletin, which got us started.

Ray Alexander’s million-mile B-van • B-Vans being built at Pillette Road

A-Vans | Campers | Dodge-Commer SpaceVan | Ambulances | Sprinter | Van Forums | Steering column repairs

1971 Sportsman Wagon109" wb127" wbMaxiwagon
Door opening-side door height 47.2" 47.2" 47.2"
Door opening-side door width 49.2" 49.2" 49.2"
Door opening-rear door height 47.2" 47.2" 47.2"
Door opening-rear door width 49.2" 49.2" 49.2"
Height-Maximum passenger area53.9" 53.9" 53.9"
Length-rear door to seat-back

95.2"113.2"131.2"
Length-rear door to engine cover117.3"135.3"153.3"
Overall length176.0"194.0"212.0"
Overall width79.0" 79.0" 79.0"
Width-maximum inside69.9" 69.9" 69.9"
Overall height80.8 " 80.8" 80.8"
Front Tread65.18" 65.18" 65.18"
Rear Tread65.1265.12" 65.12"
Turning Radius: B100 36.5' 41.6' 41.6'
Turning Radius: B200 37.9' 43.3' 43.3'
Turning Radius: B300 40.7' 49.5' 49.5'

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