Beautiful, Cheap Survivor: 1987 Dodge Van

Having owned and driven Dodge vans for all of the 1980s and into the early-90s, this one really caught my eye. Thanks to Matt W. for sending in the tip for this great-looking 1987 Dodge Ram 150! This rust-free two-tone beauty is listed on eBay with a lower price than I would have guessed, a $4,000 buy it now price, but they’re taking offers. It’s located in Wernersville, Pennsylvania.

I’m frankly surprised at the low price on this van and I’m worried that I may do something impulsive, again. By 1987, Dodge had renamed what was basically the same B-series van a couple of times and it was now known as the Ram. The B-series vans came after (all together now) the A-series vans in 1971. B-series vans were made for close to 100 years. Ok, that was a lie, but it almost seems like it in the vehicle world where things usually change so often. When something works, just stick with it, I guess. In this case, for over thirty years. NADA lists a high-retail value of $4,100 on this model and an average value of $3,100. I guess it isn’t worth as much as I thought it would be. This appears to be one of the nicest examples out there and is certainly the nicest one that I’ve seen in a long time. Would a van without side windows be better or more valuable, or more cool? It would be for me mainly because I would never use it to other haul people around in, it would just be a road trip vehicle, so I don’t need side windows, That may hold the price down a bit. People today would buy a $40,000 minivan or SUV to haul 6-7 family members around in, not a 30-year old Dodge Van for less than 1/10th the price.

The vans that I had didn’t have rear side windows, they were work vans for me. Well, first they were for hauling band equipment around for the rock bands that I was in after high school. Needless to say, they had carpet everywhere and a couple of “low benches” over each rear wheel in the back for.. resting. After the band era, a few short years after high school, I started and ran a successful commercial cleaning company and we used Dodge vans exclusively because I was a huge fan of Dodge vehicles. Two of them were short-wheelbase vans like this one but they were the previous generation B-series Tradesman vans without side windows in the cargo area. One was a maxi-van with an extra portion of cargo area grafted onto the rear and it was on a longer wheelbase.  I also had a Dodge Ram Van, as in a Caravan without side windows. So, the naming convention here is pretty confusing, to say the least.

Silver over red, scary. If I make it through this without buying this van it’ll be a miracle. The seller of this nice looking rig is the son of the original owner. This beauty has been stored, or garaged, since new and after 106,000 miles it has “no exterior rust”. I’m not quite sure if that means that it has interior rust or what that means, but it sure looks perfect. The only problem is that the gas gauge isn’t currently working, but the heater, cruise, and even the AC is working! There are no dings or dents and it has never been in an accident. Whew, this is getting tougher. I do NOT need this van, I do NOT need this van, I do NOT need this van.. Since I travel 150-200 day a year, though, I could save a lot of money sleeping in this van compared to hotel costs. Hmm.. I DO need this van, I DO need this van..

The first thing I think of is, “Hey, there are no head rests”, but that’s just because of being spoiled over the last couple of decades with safety equipment in vehicles. Most of us grew up without head rests in our vehicles, not to mention a good portion of us grew up either not having seat belts or not wearing them. Raise your hands if you grew up not locking your car or house doors and even, gasp, playing lawn darts! How did any of us make it to our ripe old ages?! If I’m not mistaken, the Dodge Ram “wagon” would have had low-back buckets in the front, so I think this is a Dodge Ram van, but I could be wrong. One of you will know for sure. This 8-passenger + luggage hauler has a 5.2L V8 engine according to the seller. Yes, that’s the beloved 318 cubic-inch with around 150 hp. How many of us still hear those starters? I know that I do. I really love Dodge vans. Do any of you have any Dodge van stories? We’d love to hear them!


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  1. SAM61

    Like it. Good deal but not sure how I would use it. It could be a quasi-work van, keep the middle seat, remove the third seat for use in the “man cave”.

    Mopar/Fiat should engineer the vintage starter sound into the new stuff.

    • Scotty Gilbertson Staff

      Ha, excellent, like the fake “bell” on light rail trains or the fake exhaust growl on EVs.

      • SAM61

        Or fake driver tuneable engine/exhaust note on a Tesla…you could choose anything from a Yugo to a current Bugatti or late 70’s GM v8 with “knock, run-on”.

  2. jdjonesdr

    I was going to say that is a really handsome looking van until I saw that interior. I’d love to see it with a black or even a tan interior.

    Red is definitely not one of my favorite colors.

    But, it’s still a very nice looking van. Those hubcaps and the trim really set it off nicely.

  3. Fred W.

    Scotty, you need to just go ahead and buy it, life only happens once. Think of backing up this monster and actually being able to see where you are backing thanks to the huge windows. And don’t forget that starter sound. As far as headrests for the passengers, those are for rear enders to prevent whiplash. If any modern car rear ends this bread box even at 35mph, you’ll feel a slight bump and get out to see what happened. The car will have crumple zoned itself into an accordian and your back bumper will be a bit scuffed. I know, it happened to me last year!

    • Scotty Gilbertson Staff

      Fred, I’ve used that argument 6-7-8-9-10 times in the last year.. The first thing I do to my vehicles is to put those little stick-on convex mirrors on the outside mirrors. I can’t live without them.

  4. CrazyGeorge CrazyGeorge

    Oh look, window latches and a deluxe tissue dispenser It even comes with an umbrella, is that included ? Top “o” the world ma !
    I gotta get me one of these flying boxes and yeah Scotty I now hear that iconic starter sound ( in my head for the rest of the day, thank you very much ! ). I just love the RED Hounds-tooth Interior ! It’s so 80’s…. Even with 106k it would be a shame to run this survivor onto the ground… Tell AACA in Hershey we got a transporter for them to use in the fall…

  5. leiniedude leiniedude Member

    Great write up Scotty!!!! You do need this van. I ordered a 1973 windowless black Tradesman van when I was young. Pop always had Mopars and I remember that stater sound well. I think they were called gear reduction starters. I did the interior but not all shag carpet and black light posters. Done more to a hunting cabin look. I called her the Dodge Lodge. As far as Dodge van stories, As per the 1970’s I can’t recall many. The ones I do recall, probably not the place to tell them. Great write up, thanks!

    • Scotty Gilbertson Staff

      Thanks, Mike! I miss my old Sears-green ’74 Tradesman van with a slant-six and three-on-the-tree. We changed that original engine in our gravel driveway once, putting it through the passenger door opening with the wheels of the engine dolly digging into the gravel the whole way. My automotive class in high school consisted of rebuilding starters and alternators for an entire year to make money for the program. I didn’t learn much else but I could almost rebuild a started or alternator in my sleep after that year.

      • leiniedude leiniedude Member

        Hey Scotty! Pretty much my you are my favorite author. You enjoy the bizarre stuff and have paid your dues, like changing the motor in the gravel driveway. I have given away some tools to a couple of young cats recently, I remember working with a crescent wrench and vice grips as a kid. It was a B““`. back then with no tools. Now I have the tools but not that much energy! Take care Stud, Mike.

    • Mike Dettling

      Maybe my 19 years old deaf ears didn’t quite see the song of the starter sound.. had a 79 ram SWB cargo with rear windows van cream on tan w/ cruise, captains seats and rest was carpeted all around. Crusty under valve covers, was a real workhorse with short rear gearing and 14mpg. Was more than 75$ to fill the tank at 1999 prices.

      Can anybody email or link me that starter sound? Would that be any different than my 78 LeBaron Coupe with a 74 Duster 318? Was my first car at 15.

    • Mike Dettling

      Maybe my 19 years old deaf ears didn’t quite see the song of the starter sound.. had a 79 ram SWB cargo with rear windows van cream on tan w/ cruise, captains seats and rest was carpeted all around. Crusty under valve covers, was a real workhorse with short rear gearing and 14mpg. Was more than 75$ to fill the tank at 1999 prices.

      Was quite the roadtrip machine tho it liked blowing up mufflers??

      Anybody got a clip of the sound? Would it have sounded anything like my 78 LeBaron Coupe?

  6. MH

    I grew riding around in these vans. I love them!!!! I wish I could buy it. When I was real youung my dad had a cargo van like this but older. Our seat were lawn chairs. I will never forget those days. No child seats, nothing. Just kids and lawn chairs. Now days you would be thrown in jail for sure. Awe the good old days!

  7. Kirt M.

    And I thought I was the only one that though the Chrysler starters sounded strange – almost like someone laughing. The small block starters were much more amusing than the big block starters. I can still hear both in my head. My last Mopar was a ‘73 D100 Club Cab long bed with a 400 big block.

    • Frank

      Back in high school in the 70’s, I owned a couple of Chryslers. The joke that went around was that when you wanted to start it, the car would just laugh at you. :)

      • Nrg8

        Powermech boys were always on my 70 Charger for the starter sound. D-D-D-D-D-Dodge…..

  8. Rock On Member

    We used to joke that my buddy had wing nuts holding the starter on his 340 Cuda, because he had it off so often for repairs!

  9. Greg NJ2SC

    In 1998 i joined a punk band on Bass and vocals and they had an 88 version of this. Same color, same interior and it ran forever

  10. Paul

    Scotty, I am going to take a shot in the dark that you like this Dodge van. Just a hunch…

    • Scotty Gilbertson Staff

      Paul, what gave it away?.. (sorry, I’m a little too enthusiastic sometimes)


    Window van…..not cool but practical No window van cool but not practical. Take your choice. I vote for cool. If you want practical buy a later model SUV

    • Scotty Gilbertson Staff

      Cool usually/always wins, DK!
      I’d still love to have this van, though.

  12. Jeff71960

    DAJIBAN… this van could be loads of fun at the track

  13. David Miraglia

    Good solid tank from the 1980’s, I bet she has plenty of life left in her.

  14. Maestro1 Member

    Scotty, I agree with the person who said do it, life only happens once. I would but I don’t have room for anything else now. Looking for bigger space but this is the Left Coast where everything is 100 times more than anywhere else.

  15. W9BAG

    My friend, Brad, still has the ’77 Tradesman that was his very first vehicle that he bought brand new. Black exterior. 318, P/S, P/B, A727. He fully customized it ala 1977 specs. Mushroom windows in the rear, upper side, olive drab & gold shag carpeting, the whole ball of wax. It’s been in his barn for at least 20 years. We had SO much fun in that van, but I can’t recall how many times that we all wished that he had spent the extra $464 (?) for A/C ! You just can’t beat an old Dodge van. Go for it Scotty.

  16. Bob

    In the 70s, I had a VW camper. Put 215,000 miles on it. It was on it’s 3rd engine when I decided to upgrade to a Dodge van like this. It had the optional rear bench that folded out into a bed. I used it exactly one time: My son and I spent the night at Edwards and watched the space shuttle land! Since the VW was a 4, I thought the slant Six would have enough power for me (it did), and I opted for the 4 speed manual trans. Same color as this one. For some reason, Chrysler couldn’t build a decent 4 speed manual. It used auto transmission fluid. Chrysler replaced it 3 times in 55,000 miles and that was enough for me. Got rid of it and got a 59 El Camino.That had a bed too!

  17. George

    Still have mine, and another 1989…all switched to propane years ago.

    • George

      Here is the rest of it.

  18. Paul

    Don’t be sorry at all Scotty… We have all been there and hope to go there again as soon as possible. Show your enthusiasm with gusto and do not care who thinks what of it

  19. T Mel

    Used to drive airport shuttles. We used all Dodge vans with the 318. Some of them went 600,000-700,000 before they needed their first rebuild. They had their oil changed about every 3 days due to mileage. Vans with well over 1,000,000 miles we’re only about 4-5 years old. I’ve had three myself and miss them all.

  20. leiniedude leiniedude Member

    Well Scotty, you $4000 bucks short today? Sold for:US $4,000.00
    [ 8 bids ]

  21. Matt

    Pretty much the identical van, also garage kept on listed on ebay at the same time as this one sold. The mirrors are smaller on the 1986 B150. Beautiful condition! Love these 80’s window vans (Wagons).

    Like 1

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