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California Survivor: 1981 Dodge Ram Van B250

In the late-70s and early-80s, I was a rabid Dodge van fan. More of a fanatic. It’s hard to believe now with the oddball tiny, weird vehicles that I like, but I still love Dodge vans. This 1981 Dodge B250 Ram van can be found here on eBay in Pahrump, Nevada. There is a $5,999 buy it now price on this rust-free Dodge.

I could have only dreamed about owning such a solid van when I had them 35+ years ago. The Dodge vans that I had, all first-gen Tradesman vans as opposed to this second-generation Ram van, were used hard and I mean hard. My favorite was a 1974 Tradesman with no side windows in the back, a former Sears delivery van. Remember that company, Sears? Yeah, it’s a bummer to think that my van and Sears are both gone now. No, it’s more than just a bummer when you throw Sears into the mix.

I eventually used my van for a commercial cleaning service that I started after high school in an attempt to get out of going to college. It worked, the business thrived for several years and after being out of high school for a solid dozen years, I sold the business and bit the bullet on college. I would have loved to have such a nice van as this example – no flapping metal, no dents in the side, no sloppy 3-on-the-tree that was converted to a floor shift but had to be put in backwards due to the crossmember. And this one has power steering, power brakes, and even AC?! Blatant luxury compared to my rusty van.

The interior looks great on this heavy hauler, front and rear. The B250 van is a 3/4-ton version which is maybe more than a lot of folks would need for regular van duties unless they’re really hauling a lot of heavy stuff. That’s a Cap’n Obvious statement there, but it’s true. Just like most of us don’t really need a four-door pickup on a daily basis but yet we buy them for when we do need those extra two doors. Which brings up another point: I wonder what the ratio is for those who say “too many doors” about classic cars with four doors yet they drive a four-door pickup? Hmm.. Ok, back to this great looking Ram van.

This seller gets a coveted Barn Finds Scotty G 2019 Award for great photos. An engine photo is as rare as political harmony in the U.S. and this person has included an engine photo – of a van! +10 for that, seller! The 150-hp 318 cubic-inch V8 looks good from up top and they have also included a lot of underside photos. No wonder they’re getting an award for photos. This really looks like a great van to me. Are there any other Dodge van fans out there?


  1. Al

    I still have my 1981 Dodge Ram 350 converted to a bubble-top Class B RV.

    The only problem I ever have had with it, was how the alternator was attached to its mount. A real lousy method to mount the thing. I had to continuously tighten it, like every 500 miles or so or the belt would break.
    I found a different mount for it, and ironically where you bolted it to the block, the mounting holes where already there. Such a huge difference.

    Like 6
    • Sandy Claws

      These can be hard to work on sometimes. I had a friend with a Fiat X19, Lord, that was a bear to even change the plugs in.

      Like 1
      • Duaney Member

        With the engine cover off, everything super easy to reach.

        Like 3
    • Duaney Member

      I drive several of these all the time, never encountered that problem..Big block or small block???

      Like 2
      • Al

        Duaney, you are absolutely correct.
        What you can not access from the front is easily accessible from under the engine cover.
        Mine has a 360 in it, at 55mph it got 12-14 mpg, whereas at 66-67mph it averages 22 mpg.
        I flipped the air-cleaner top over to allow more air to get in the carb, which in turn gave it greater mpg. What I don’t know is, would the extra air cause damage to the engine. I change air-filters quite often.
        I’ve flipped the air-cleaner top on other vehicles in the past which has resulted in higher mpg. I just do not know if this is a sound practice or not.

        Like 3
  2. 36 Packard

    Gee, and I can’t say orgy?

  3. 68custom

    in Japan these are semi desirable and raced.

    Like 1
  4. BigDoc

    I loved my 1977 Dodge Van with the 318. Great engine for a van.

    Like 2
    • brianashe

      Funny, my family had a ’77 with a 318, too. I’d like to have one now, but I think it’s more nostalgia than actually liking it. :-)

  5. Christopher Heidel

    When I was 16 and learning to drive, our family car was a 1981 B250 8-passenger window van. Slant-6, 4 spd overdrive on the floor. Man, the clutch pedal was h-e-a-v-y, but it was still fun to drive. No sound insulation, rubber floor mats, vinyl seats. No power steering, either, so I confine my previous ‘fun-to-drive’ comment to out-of-town driving only. Imagine today’s 16 year old having that as a learning tool! We used to put a canoe on the roof, hang a tent trailer off the back and drive 14 hours up along the north shore of Lake Superior to go camping. Imagine doing that with 95 hp and garden shed aerodynamics in a 3-ton rig. Ah, the good old days.

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