Kansas Field Find: 1969 Dodge A100 Balboa

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The seller says that this 1969 Dodge A100 Balboa van camper was rescued from a field in Kansas. It appears to be in great condition, it looks like they did a nice job of bringing this one back and they think that it may be the very first one built by the company as it’s marked as Model 1. They have it posted here on eBay in impossibly beautiful Cardiff by the Sea, or Cardiff, California. The current bid is $13,100, and the reserve isn’t met.

I don’t believe that Model 1 means that this was the first one built, it’s most likely Model 1 of several models of this Balboa. Anyone? They reportedly made two different floor plans, one with an L-shaped galley and this one with a straight-through kitchen. I don’t see any rust at all in the chassis-mount camper body. Well ok, that’s because it’s double-walled fiberglass. Balboa van campers, or class-b motorhomes (which are built on van chassis), were the brainchild of Jensen Marine Corp. out of Costa Mesa, California, and were reportedly built between 1968 through 1974. They were typically built onto the chassis of van cabs by Ford, Chevrolet, or Dodge as with this A100 as shown on the data tag. The data tag also lists the wheelbase as being 108 inches and I assumed that would make this van an A108 but I guess not.

This is the ideal camping vehicle, in my opinion. I can’t imagine a better size, although maybe a more modern drivetrain would be handy in 2023 traffic. The fiberglass camping shell appears to be in really nice condition. The seller says that it was found in a Kansas field and shipped to them in the San Diego area (Cardiff?) and he restored it recently. There’s a fantastic video here on YouTube showing this beauty inside and out – well done!

The cab appears to be in really nice condition, and that bare-foot gas pedal is killer! This rig has a three-speed A727 automatic with a shifter on the dash to the right of the steering wheel and a big pad over the dog house (engine compartment) where someone may have sat before there were many (or any) safety regulations related to such things. The rear door gives a lot of space that isn’t broken up by having a door on the right (passenger) side as shown in this panorama photo.

The camping compartment is beautiful, redone, and sadly, a lot of the 1969 hippy charm (is that an oxymoron?) may have been covered up with modern materials. But if a person were going to actually use this to camp in – or in my case, to live, in my dream world – this thing is great. Yes, there is a bathroom with a shower! It sleeps more people than I would have guessed, with three different areas that make up into beds. The compartment over the cab would be great for kids.

We see the engine in the YouTube video under the padded cover between the front seats. It’s a 318-cu.in. OHV V8, which according to the data tag had 177 horsepower, even though Hemmings says 210 horsepower. In any case, the heads have been rebuilt and it’s said to work great and has had a ton of work done to it over the last year or so. Almost everything that needed to be or could be rebuilt was, what a great job by the seller. With a dry-ice blast underneath, it would look great, too. Have any of you heard of this short-lived van camper model?

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Comments

  1. Moparman MoparmanMember

    I seem to remember reading about/seeing one of these for sale a few months ago (in much worse condition), but I don’t recall where. Definitely a unique offering, and seems to be in very good condition, with a beautiful interior. (IMO) The added width seems to cry out for some wider wheels/tires on the rear, LOL! The outside posing for the panoramic view is just perfect!
    GLWTA!! :-)

    Like 9
  2. HoA Howard AMember

    I’m trying to think of any other entity where more ideas had been tried than camping. Just think of what went into this originally, to design, build and market this, only to be more or less a flop. Love the “Big Footie” gas pedal. In many cases, that was what our part time job after school would buy, instead of good tires.( don’t forget the “little footie” for the high beam switch). It’s a fun find, in that fun to see brains actually being put to use, but I can only imagine, quite a handful driving. It will wander like me at a yard sale, and stiff crosswind,,,WHOAAAAA. Again, like the Toyota, dual rear wheels are a must here. Not to sound redundant, but the trip itself will be a nightmare. And that center passenger going to have a hot seat, for sure.
    You know, I derailed Scottys last camper post with my crabby “camper ramblings”, and I apologize for that. Living in the most sought after destination for such things, camping, however you define it, is huge. It literally makes the USA flourish. Camping pads a lot of pockets here, and the money people spend on it yearly tops all else. I suppose, it’s like hearing someone blasting your favorite 70s tune, it’s nice to see people still doing what my parents basically started with our humble little Friendship canned ham 50 years ago.

    Like 8
    • David A Sanford

      I had the “modern” one of these (1998) for a couple of years. Great floor plan and setup and the Dodge 360 had plenty of pep, but gave me the willys driving it, was so top heavy and swayed and wallowed all over the place. It handled so poorly that traveling in it wasn’t fun. Ended up selling it, evidently the buyer wasn’t as lily livered as I was. Perhaps doolies would have helped but no room in the fender wells.

      Like 5
      • terry

        dually

        Like 1
  3. Troy

    What a cool weekend road trip rig wish they would have posted a buy it now so we know how much they really want instead of the reserve not met waste of time

    Like 6
    • George

      Listed for $24K on Marketplace.

      Like 0
  4. Yblocker

    The cab isn’t actually all that nice, pretty cruddy around the instrument cluster, and the carpet looks shot, nice in the Camper part though. Silicone is a no no in auto transmissions, looks like somebody used a whole tube on that pan

    Like 7
    • TBallusn

      Yep, I was concerned over lack of engine compartment photo and all the wet gunk one lower portions of engine and tranny – not to mention your catch of the silicone. Had one of those base model vans at an International Harvester dealer I worked at as a kid. This is a very interesting ride for the purpose but could be a handful going down the road. Camper is clean.

      Like 4
    • MoparMike

      Looking closer at the transmission pan I don’t see any silicone just a rubber gasket squished out from being over tightened.

      Like 1
      • Yblocker

        Look a little closer, that’s grey silicone oozing out

        Like 2
  5. Chris Cornetto

    That is so cool and well looking. A 318 so it will be adequate for cruising and it is in such wonderful condition. Two thumbs up. It is good I don’t have more money than sense.

    Like 4
    • John Mundy

      I agree with you BUT the old quote is More dollars than sence , that’s like 3 times I’ve seen that butchered up here today lol Nice Camper 👍

      Like 0
  6. Joe Haska

    I like it! It is so ugly it’s COOL!

    Like 4
  7. Yo

    I think the ride would be too Rocky for me.

    Like 4
  8. Norman K Wrensch

    I would think the wind would push it around pretty good. I think I would go for a little heavier springs in the rear and duals,

    Like 4
  9. RMac

    My brother had one similar to this he bought new in 1973 he had been in a bad accident and used the insurance settlement to buy the van and a husqavarna trail bike and traveled all 48 contiguous states with them. It was slow but a handful in winds and burned several exhaust valves on the 318 he put super wide rims and tires on back with a sway bar and the replaced the 318 with A 340 4 bbl. With headers and those fixed the issues

    Like 7
  10. nlpnt

    If nothing else that doghouse pad provides extra insulation from both noise and heat, as well as a padded armrest.

    Like 3
  11. George

    They have it listed on Marketplace for $24K. https://www.facebook.com/commerce/listing/771433044669892

    Like 0
  12. Ken w

    Where is the transmission cross member?

    Like 1
    • eric22t

      go look at that tranny pic again. look above the tail shaft in front of the floor cross rail. see the bracket and bolt?it’s an uppy not a downie.

      really cool rig. i like the layout in the back. if i could bring my self to throw that much cash, i would up grade front and rear suspension and axles to 3/4 ton then add some sway bars and dualies . ( bigger brakes to boot that way)
      and sooner or later it would prolly get a 360.

      Like 1
      • Yblocker

        “Prolly”?

        Like 0
  13. eric22t

    oh come on yblocker it’s called slang… the abuse of the english language by every younger generation. some of them stick and get used by the wrong older generation. don’t ask me why that one stuck with me

    Like 2
    • Yblocker

      I know plenty of slang, it ok, I get it. But it’s not that hard to let “b” roll off your lips lol

      Like 0
    • Bob

      Like finna, dey, mange bonics sound stupid.Valley Girl like, for sure, like.

      Like 1
      • Terry

        24k is to much, I heard campers were sliding back down to Earth price wise. I like the layout and 318 Dodges were awesome motors. 727 trannies are very solid new pan and gasket no biggie. saw a modern camper with Bilstein shocks,add some sway bars. Many campgrounds practice age discrimination , that would be a problem here.

        Like 1
  14. Gary

    That is silicone based sealer on the pan, not good. From the looks of the rest of the driveline i doubt that anything but the oil and filter have been changed, greasy, slimey mess. Will most likely need engine/tranny work on top of the 24K ask? No way, Hose’.

    Like 3
    • David A Sanford

      If one were close by and were interested in this camper, then they could take a short test drive as it looks like there’s a plate on it. Otherwise a startup, check compression, look at the tranny fluid, all the checks you can do in the yard. If issues and you still like the rig (and theres lots to like), you could cut your offer by the estimated cost of repairs plus any towing. The market for this type of rig might be small enough that the seller could well want to play ball in order to get it out of his yard. etc. .Otherwise it’s a pig in a poke, you could travel a long ways to it and find that it has a deal breaker defect.

      Like 2
  15. RMac

    David
    You are 100% CORRECT
    Always best to check out a vehicle in person. I have seen too many lawsuits over people buying sight unseen and then not happy with what they get
    If you cannot look at it yourself or are not and experienced then hire a pro to appraise the condition
    Unless you just have so much money you can just throw it away if that’s the case the don’t complain when you get ripped off

    Like 2
  16. Jay Martell

    I call it refurbished to make it driveable.Its amazing what some elbow grease,new paint and tires will do for an old vehicle.Why didn’t they replace that ratty ass indoor/outdoor carpet in the cabin.Why leave it half-ass partially restored when the majority of it looks really good.Just could’ve put a little more into it in my opinion.Still a cool little camper nonetheless.

    Like 1
  17. Scotty GilbertsonAuthor

    Auction update: this one ended at $17,500 and no sale.

    Like 1
    • Greg in Texas

      It would sell at $12,000 BIN to leave room to do the drivetrain properly.

      Like 0
  18. Greg in Texas

    I dunno. Lots of surface rust on the tranny mounts etc. It would have been much easier to start out pressure washing everything underneath, pull engine and trans as one unit. And actually rebuild them both. If you’re talking about ‘driving anywhere’, don’t cheap-out on the drivetrain. It ain’t worth much stuck at some campsite. Only if it gets in and out without issues. All the gunk left on the trans and surface rust above it says something was done in the wrong order. Mostly concerned with the looks. You can get fake chest and rear end imitation ‘muscles’ installed. Good luck getting around. But hey: You looked good for the Facebooger pics!

    Like 0

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