4-Speed Dodge Camper Van: 1972 Xplorer 224

A lot of us grew up motorized camping, as in something other than a tent. We had a pickup camper but really could have used a bigger motorhome. Now, all I want or need for camping or traveling, in general, would be something like this 1972 Dodge Xplorer 224. This one is listed here on eBay in Joppa, Maryland and the current bid price is $7,100.

Esteemed car guy and Barn Finds writer, Todd Fitch, showed us an outstanding Ford-based Xplorer 224 van’per (van camper – just made that up as far as I know) here this past March. Wow! That was a beauty and it was based on a Ford van rather than this Dodge-based Xplorer. This Xplorer was built on a one-ton Dodge van carcass and it goes one more than most in having a 4-speed manual transmission. I’m on the fence on whether that’s a very, very cool and good thing or if that would be trouble in a line of vehicles heading up a mountain pass or in traffic. Thoughts?

There appears to be some rust to deal with on this Xplorer which isn’t too surprising but it should be fairly simple to repair that and repaint the bottom portion. I drove full-sized Dodge vans for years and that’s always a concern for anyone outside of the desert southwest or pacific northwest. The Xplorer 224 is a Class B motorhome, which is based on a van platform as opposed to Class A which is a full-sized motorhome on a chassis with a custom body, or a Class C which is based on a van chassis with the van cab intact and a big chassis-mounted camper on the back.

A few days ago we saw a Travco motorhome here on Barn Finds and they’re related to the Xplorer motorhomes. Ray Frank, the gentleman who came up with the predecessor to Travco motorhomes in the late-1950s, went on to start Xplorer Motor Homes in 1967 in order to have a small motorhome that would fit in a normal garage. Those aren’t original seats but they sure look comfortable and the rest of the interior looks great, a throwback to the early-1970s.

You can see how they made six feet of headroom in a regular van, they recessed the floor in a few areas. Also, having a low roofline helps with aerodynamics and MPG. There is a full bathroom with a toilet, sink, and shower, but it’s a very small space. Still, it’s a luxury compared to staying in a tent and bathing in the river. There are no engine photos but the VIN decodes from two different sources as being a 225 slant-six. It has to be a V8 of some sort, doesn’t it? The 225 was available in Dodge vans but with the added weight I would never guess that Xplorer would have used a slant-six in one of their rigs. I could be wrong and it would be far from the first time. Any thoughts on what engine this might be and any thoughts on this Xplorer van? I like it, a lot.

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Comments

  1. Driveinstile Member

    If you look closely at the photo showing the dash, you can see the steering column had an 3 speed manual originally( I don’t see the PRND21) indicator but I could be wrong.. That’s most likely an A-833 OD which was a 4 speed with 4th being an overdrive. From what I could find, they didn’t come out with the overdrive version until the mid 70’s. This is in amazing condition considering its age.

    Like 5
    • Scotty Gilbertson Staff

      Good eye, Driveinstile! My brother and I put a floor shifter in my 1974 Dodge van when the 3-speed column shift linkage was worn out and would get stuck every once in a while. The floor shifter didn’t work much better as we had to put it in backward due to the mounting location on the floor so it was 100% theftproof. Actually, I could barely drive it after that but I somehow did for a few years.

      Like 15
      • Howard A Member

        You aren’t the only one, my friend. I had a friend with a custom Dodge van, and a 3 speed on the floor, that had a backward shift pattern too, due to the location. Something was in the way for a normal pattern, I forget what, but it would be unexpected for someone trying to steal it.

        Like 8
  2. RoughDiamond RoughDiamond Member

    The location of that floor shifter sure looks awkward to me.

    Like 7
  3. Howard A Member

    Well, it’s a nice find if you’re 4’8″ tall, but a pain if any taller. These went to pop up roofs for a reason. These are great vans, hard to work on, but be okay for a couple, I suppose. Sure beats driving an “Ultimate Behemoth” around and with motorhomes starting at 5 figures today, this is a cool find.

    Like 8
    • Francisco

      5 figures? Try 6! Take a look at Airstreams and Winnebagos built on Sprinter vans.

      Like 7
    • Matt Toni

      The floors were lowered to give more headroom and still fit in standard garage

      Like 10
  4. Cycle Salvage Kevin

    My 51,000 mile ’73 Dodge motorhome has a 360 engine so maybe this fantastic ’72 has one as well. Everything except the leaking roof, well, ALL of the camper parts, are excellent. I thought about cutting off the back half about 3 feet behind the seats, building a new rear wall and making a 10′ flatbed. That way I’d still have a bath and overhead bed. It’d be a great motorcycle swapmeet outfit without the need to pull a trailer. But alas, it’s not to be. Also thought about using the engine and trans in my ’40 DeSoto. Keep the old MOPAR all MOPAR instead of nearly everyone’s go-to, SBC.

    Like 8
  5. Car Nut Tacoma

    That’s a camper van I’ve never seen, never mind with a 4-spd on the floor manual gearbox.

    Like 1
  6. GOM

    If it happened to be a retrofit of the 4 speed w/OD transmission (which I believe was a factory option in both vans and pickups at one time), it would be unique, and for us standard lovers, desirable. With a low rear axle ratio (4.10, for example) even the 225 would probably do OK for what we called “shunpiking”, that is, sticking to secondary roads to enjoy the trip, not just the destination. Some of us still travel that way!

    Like 5
  7. Terry Bowman

    I believe it was a 3 speed on the column from birth. You can see the connection on the right side of the column. I have or had a stock shifter and connections for a 75′ or 76′ van and the shifter here looks different. I’m surprise the van is a strip down Tradesman and not a Sportsman, being a camper. The door handles, cranks,dash items and maybe the carpet, with it’s foot pads appear correct. Again no door covers or other extras, I wonder if it is a true camper from Dodge. All Dodge campers that I have seen have stainless hub caps in that era. Sportsman were bright finish and the Tradesman were painted white. This still a nice home away from home.

    Like 3
  8. John

    This does look like it’s a very nice unit and the interior has been well maintained and updated. In the late 70s, I worked for Ray Frank at his Explorer dealership in South Florida. These were very well executed small self contained motorhomes. I have never seen one that wasn’t automatic transmission , I’m sure some got optioned that way . Some even had a small generator and rooftop AC, although generator had to be mounted underneath the bed and one of the side storage pods. I do see plenty of rust which means there’s plenty more that’s not seen. The biggest drawback to me on this eve a listing is the $499 dealer fee that is nothing more than additional markup. Sorry, but nuisance fees like that send me running the other way.

    Like 11
  9. Charles

    Ask Seller what engine it has

    Like 7
  10. Gary Rhodes

    I know a guy that has had three 4spd Dodge vans in the past five or so years. Two were 225 Leaning Towers of Power. He really liked them and said they were good runners, even over the mountains

    Like 3
  11. Erik

    Does anybody else think 105000 miles is a lot on an RV and possibly indicative of being driven A LOT in its “youth” rather than 2100 miles a year for past 50 years?

    Like 4
  12. RATTLEHEAD

    All 3 on the tree transmissions shift backwards when putting a standard floor shifter in, they do make a proper converion kit though with first away and up and second to you and down make for great first/second power shifts lots easier once use to it.

  13. Dillon

    I had a ‘77 224 Xplorer. Great get away for the weekend lake rv. I’m 6’ and could fully stand up in it. The bathroom was pretty tight but it was nice to keep the kids from walking across the camp ground at night. Full-size bed in back was nice too. We sold it because my wife became claustrophobic with time and the alley to get from bed in back to outside access was tight.

  14. David G

    The one ton B300 vans come standard with a 318 engine.

  15. Buddy Ruff

    My late wife and I looked at a similar RV years ago at the state fair, but the bathroom was in the back. I teased her that she could sit on the toilet and wave to everyone as they passed by.

  16. Ea

    I just sold one this past spring just like this. Mine had a 360 v8 and automatic trans stock.

    • Terry Bowman

      All the camper vans that I have seen, had a 360 (“J” heads) or a 440, due to the extra work hauling around all that weight. None had standard transmissions. Work vans, YES!!! (Tradesman)

  17. Morality

    Asked the Seller about the engine size, NO ANSWER.
    This Is suspicious…

    Like 4
  18. Scotty Gilbertson Staff

    Auction update: this Xplorer sold for $8,336.05.

    Like 1
  19. Morality

    THERE MUST BE MORE TO THE STORY…
    It is for sale again on eBay:
    https://www.ebay.com/itm/194284209043?hash=item2d3c3dc393:g:j~MAAOSw8KthFT6-
    Now at $10,100 with 5 days to go.
    The buyer of it last week made the bid with ONE SECOND on the clock at:
    Ended:Sunday, Sunday, 8 Aug 2021 at 6:00:00pm PDT
    The new sale started: Sunday, 8:00PM
    This Is suspicious…
    Twice I Asked the Seller about the engine size, NO ANSWER.
    Is This suspicious?

    Like 2
    • Rarpiz

      I was the auction winner (sorry?). Needless to say, I never got it. I tried contacting “Morgan” multiple times, via voicemail and eBay email and no response.

      I sent two complaints to eBay about them, but I haven’t heard anything. I also see that a couple other vehicles they had listed have been since reposted.

      If this is a scam, I don’t think they know how to do one. I’m not out any money (again, couldn’t contact them post-auction). I’m just frustrated that “Morgan” isn’t being held to account for breaking an auction contract. Once upon a time, eBay was very serious about those sorts of violations.

      Like 1
    • Francisco

      And he has 52 bids and 89 watchers already. To quote ole Bill Shakespeare: “Something stinks in Denmark.”

  20. Rarpiz

    I was that buyer who came in at the last second (sorry?). I could never get a hold of the seller post-auction. I sent two complaints to eBay, but haven’t heard anything back.

    This RV isn’t the only one they relisted…I don’t know what scam they are running, but I’m not out any money (again, couldn’t contact them), so I don’t get what they are doing, except to p*ss auction winners off.

    Like 1
    • Morality

      Rarpiz, are you telling the truth?
      The only one who can put a wrench in that seller’s scam is the WINNER. A title you claim.

      Just checked that eBay seller “usedtruc61” looking for the feedback you left.
      NOTHING

      A short negative feedback like ROBBED ME WILL ROB YOU TOO
      will up “Morgan”

      Like 1
  21. Morality

    GOOD GOING :-)
    That is what “feedback” is for.
    Tell us how seller responds to you.

    Like 1
    • Rarpiz

      Also, quick tip for you and everyone else who participates in eBay auctions.

      eBay increments bids in 1, 10, 100 dollars (or so). If you are determined to win an auction, put in the MAX amount you would be willing to buy the item for.

      Example: If the current auction bid price is $8,000, but you are willing to spend up to $15,000, then put in $15,000 as your bid. eBay will jump over anyone who has a bid lower than your max, and you will become the high bidder.

      Also, NEVER bid on an item early on (especially non-reserve items). There’s no need to drive price up. Your bid action should be within the last 10-20 seconds of the auction, it’s commonly known as “sniper” bidding.

      What I did with this one was I put in $15,000 as my bid, even though the van was only at $8k. I waited until ~ 5 seconds until auction close. No computer programs, just me timing with my mouse click. eBay declared me the winner at $8,300 (something), because, again, eBay increments the bid price.

      Hopefully this strategy helps somebody out there. I’ve been doing this since 2002.

      Like 1
  22. Morality

    Rarpiz, are you telling the truth?

    Just checked that eBay seller “usedtruc61” looking for the feedback you left.
    NOTHING

    100% POSITIVE feedback history.

    How come?

    • Rarpiz

      I just saw that myself…

      It looks like “usedtruc61” “cancelled” my order, and my negative comment was deleted. The order hadn’t been “paid” yet under eBay (because I can’t get ahold of “Morgan”).

      Wow…… I gotta find some phone number to contact eBay because this is complete B.S.! A seller should NOT be able to delete a negative feedback by cancelling an order.

      I’m going to check up on this.

      Like 1

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