$240,000 When New: 1983 Dodge B300 Electric Van

Have you ever seen a Dodge B300 that once cost $240,000? Well, now you have. It’s hard to believe at first, until you learn the government was involved and then you’re almost surprised it didn’t cost $300,000. This was a project of sorts to create a fully electric van before such vehicles became mainstream, so of course, nothing about it was cheap. Today, it shows under 3,000 original miles and is said to still power up and drive, but it clearly needs updating to modern battery standards. Find it here on craigslist for $28,000 near Chicago.

The seller claims the Dodge was created by a private company in partnership with the federal government, or more specifically, the Department of Energy. It sounds like the company that built it held onto it for all these years until they went out of business (government funds dried up?) and the Dodge had to find a new home. This is an unusual spec of the Dodge B300, featuring the longer style body with no windows and the only openings the front doors and presumably some barn doors on the passenger side. The cabin is stripped down to just two front seats.

This was truly an electric vehicle, no hybrid powertrain here. The seller notes that the currently installed deep-cycle screw lug batteries in the so-called “Bank 1” will power up and allow the Dodge to perform lot drives. The technology was supposedly all military-grade components at the time, with two quick removal pans covering the batteries that were stored under the Dodge, much like today’s modern electric vehicles. Apparently, it can run any kind of battery, so the seller believes it should be fairly simple to upgrade to modern batteries that should be far lighter.

The body is incredibly clean and despite being in the Chicago area since nearly new, the seller claims there’s no rust to speak of. Of course, with such low mileage and presumably being stored indoors and thus not being exposed to winter, it’s not a huge surprise that the Dodge still looks this good. The question is now, what do you do with it? Is it an electric car fan’s dream conversion project, or a Mopar nut’s next project for converting back to a gasoline-powered survivor? How would you tackle it?


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  1. Cadmanls Member

    According to the odometer this thing didn’t even travel 3000 miles. What a deal for taxpayers! Maybe was top shelf electronics for the day but not anymore, not going to just buy some new battery packs and go anywhere.

    Like 17
    • nlpnt

      I’m assuming the price tag includes development costs amortized over very few “production” units.

      But yeah, at the time gel cells were the hot new thing. EV battery technology at the time had been largely static since the days of Detroit and Baker Electrics, in contrast to the past 15 years or so where they’ve been developing according to a process akin to Moore’s Law.

      Like 5
    • Dave

      Sometimes savvy people get the deal of a lifetime thanks to Uncle Sam. Google “EPA Superbird”, that’s probably the best one.

      Like 6
  2. Ken Carney

    You are 100% right sir. It will indeed need to
    be updated for daily driving. And with all that Tesla stuff floating around out there, I
    don’t think the cost will be that prohibitive.
    I’d also take advantage of that long roof
    and add some solar panels to charge it while
    driving and while it’s parked at your place
    of employment (If you are fortunate to have
    one). And as for the government building
    this van,. There was so much waste and red
    tape that this thing could have cost well over
    the $240,000 that our seller states in his ad.
    So remember we ARE talking about the
    government aren’t we.

    Like 13
  3. JCA Member

    Another flipper who’s convinced he’s found the holy grail of barn finds. Does it really have historical value or is it just a clean bodied van that needs a drive train? I’m leaning towards the latter. Maybe it’s worth $8K?

    Like 14
    • stu

      Definitely not worth 8K… And to boot the asking price is a joke!

  4. Haig L Haleblian

    Located near the new proposed stadium for the Chicago Bears. Here’s to hoping this van can run better than the Bears offense. Translated, run at all.

    Like 16
  5. Ralph

    You got to be kidding. Just read the seller’s ad, and based on his approachable attitude I would not offer 2K for this beast. A lot has changed since 1983 and the asking price here is beyond stupid. I like the old Dodge vans a lot but not gonna buy into the BS seller’s Craigslist story. YMMV

    Like 7
    • Captain

      Vans are at a premium right now, I’d go $4k and put a modern hemi and 8spd automatic in it.

      Like 3
  6. Steveo

    Well, in fairness it does come with 2 toilet seat covers for a Lockheed C-5 Galaxy.

    Like 10
    • Al

      Well that pair’s worth $20k on the low end.

      Like 2
  7. Ian C

    I was intrigued when I saw the “arm chopper” light… then I was quite amused by the “logic off” light. That convinced me on it being a government vehicle.

    Like 9
  8. Ed H

    “…no chinees parts”

    Like 7
  9. Chris

    I am a Mopar fan , but I would not take it if u gave to me . What a waste of tax payer money . Plus old technology . Maybe in a museum as a mistake ,or permanent farm storage somewhere

    Like 1
  10. chrlsful

    always liked the dodge as they added an extension onto the extension (back, after-axel) becoming the longest van made @ the time. Young enuff then to wonder if a far back heavy load could lift the frnt end 8^ 0

    Like 1
  11. Jim in FL

    IMHO, I’d scrap all the obsolete electronics, and get a donor van’s drivetrain.
    In the CL ad, there was tons of gibberish following the ad. Apparently in an attempt to get the internet ‘bots’ attention. Amateurish!

    Like 2
  12. RallyAce

    ‘Logic Off’ should be something that gets transmitted to all nearby vehicles from just about every BMW.

    Like 2
  13. ADM

    Since this clown will probably wait forever to get his 28K, the best thing someone can do is steal it.

    Like 1
  14. Martinsane

    Im curious how the builder retained this build and now this seller having this.
    If DOE funded this build they would have owned it (taken possession upon contract completion) and in turn would have had to go through the protocols for vehicle disposal if they did not want it any longer, to get to where it is now.

    Like 2
    • Dave

      If you read the story behind the EPA Superbird, it was listed as a “1970 Plymouth car” on the government auction listing and sold for $500.

  15. T. Mann Member

    Oh Boy, it already has a trailer hitch :-)

    Like 1
    • Walter

      To tow extra batteries!

      Like 1
  16. Jay McCarthy

    Gut all that electric equipment and put either an Eco-Diesel or a Hemi with an 8 speed automatic

  17. Bick Banter

    Stick the dual electric motors out of a Tesla Model 3 Performance into this thing.. 500+ HP. You’d probably end up going rump over tea kettle in short order but dang it would be a fun ride.

    Like 1
    • Bick Banter

      Just feeling the power and torque pulsing through that thing before you lost it and went over? I think it would be worth any injuries you might incur. I would put a racing harness in it though, and a roll cage. I don’t think in 1983 they had the same roof structural reinforcement they have now.

  18. chuck

    Pic of instrument panel is interesting.
    ARM CHOPPER… ouch

    Like 2
  19. Haig L Haleblian

    Where’s Marty Mc

    Where’s Marty McFly when you need him?

    Like 2
  20. Haig L Haleblian

    Where’s Marty McFly when you need him?

    Like 1
  21. Mike

    I like it in the ad when the seller tags every car make in existence, every boat manufacturer and every town in IL to get the word out. Click the ad to see how ridiculously long the list is. Just because it’s a 1 of 1 and was $240,000, doesn’t mean $28k is a bargain for buyers.

    Like 2
  22. Haig L Haleblian

    This ad has to go down in the annals of ads as the stupidest ad ever. As Forrest sez “Stupid is stupid does” Who is this guy and where did he find that trailer?

  23. Daniel Wright

    A chopper is a static device that converts fixed DC input voltage to a variable dc. output voltage directly. A chopper is a high speed on/off semiconductor switch which connects source to load and disconnects the load from source at a fast speed.

    Like 3
  24. Claudio

    Put in a 440 with a 4 barrel !
    Get 3 miles to a gallon and it would still be cheaper to run than what they did with it !

    Like 2
  25. James427

    The coolest part of that van is the solid grille. Was it a Mopar part? I bet it would stump a lot of people in a parts guessing game.

    Like 2
  26. Don Leblanc

    OK, throw in some of those $ 7, 000 dollar hammers, and it’s a deal LOL.

    Like 1

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