Not For Wallflowers: 1969 Dodge Travco R/V

A recent news report confirmed communities in the Northwest have a problem with old R/Vs: there’s too many of them and they aren’t worth repairing. I can understand this, but it was painful to see so many cool vintage R/Vs dumped off as part of a scrap-recycling program. This 1969 Dodge Travco is listed for just $550, and could be a wicked period motorhome if you can afford the tow bill. Find it here on craigslist near Portland (or go here if the ad disappears.)

The seller is adamant that the only way a deal is coming together is if you show up with a tow truck. That may seem like a difficult proposition to work with, but I suspect at the cheap selling price, he’s had more than a few time-wasters and tire-kickers. He says it “ran when parked” a few years ago and that it likely will run again, but you’re not going to find out where it’s currently parked: you can NOT work on it here, as mentioned in the listing. Check out the size of this thing – you’ll need strong arms to work the wheel.

The cabin compartment actually looks quite clean, if not utilitarian. Travcos were built with Dodge chassis and engines, ranging from 318s to 440 powerplants. No word on what engine this example is equipped with, but rest assured it likely received some additional fortifications from the factory to handle the extra load. Fun fact: Travcos pioneered the use of fiberglass-over-steel construction, which made paint jobs less of a priority and overall helped preserve the structure for the long-term.

That may be the case on the outside (the body does look quite good) but the inside is another story. It’s clear water intrusion through the roof has been an issue, and the cabinetry would suggest this Travco hasn’t seen an update in many years. To own an R/V and restore it is really an exercise in personal interests – they don’t tend to be worth much, even when complete. But for the asking price, there’s heaps of cool, period style and potentially straightforward mechanicals to leave more room in the budget for a complete interior gut.

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Comments

  1. wes

    Looks the same coming and going. COOL

  2. Frank

    These were cool. I think someone could make a greenhouse or chicken coop out of this. I live in Portland and the reason for the RV scrapping is our “homeless problem.” People need a place to live and we have an affordable housing problem here. There are probably close to a hundred old RV’s and travel trailers parked on streets throughout the metro area. Most are unsafe for road travel. Some crime happening in these RV and trailer clusters, mostly drugs. The city decided to get as many old RV’s off the road and out of yards to “solve the problem.”

    • Steve R

      If it runs, it’s first and only stop on the way to the scrap yard will be at a homeless encampment.

      Steve R

    • Mike Ramey

      Frank is correct. On a recent visit to my son’s apt., I noticed six of these undriveable RVs parked on the street in front. It is indeed homeless using these. He lives near the UCLA campus in LA, and the police refuse to have these towed. It is really an ugly situation for all concerned.

  3. mallthus

    Every time I see one of these for sale, my first thought is “swap in a diesel”. I dutifully google “Travco diesel swap” and reread the same forum threads that I find every single time.

    Apparently, it is (probably) possible. Also, no one that’s actually done it has ever written about the experience.

    • Royal

      There is a video on YouTube where someone dropped a Cummings 6 into a Travco like this.

  4. Mike

    Kinda cool with great outside lines, but who has the time and $$$ to gut it and convert to something amazing. It even has the super minimalist looking instrument cluster out of a Power Wagon.

  5. Harry

    At graigslists pictures, it looks like small-block 2bbl…

    • Fiete T.

      It’s a polysphere 318.

  6. Rube Goldberg Member

    Well, just a poker shack in the woods now, but at one time, the Travco was really a pretty nice unit. Had better aerodynamics than most “boxes” of the time. Still, a Dodge straight truck underneath, and rode and handled like one and still, single digit fuel mileage. Looks like crusher time for the old Travco.

  7. Coventrycat

    We gonna lay around this shanty mama, and put a good buzz on. Or a hazmat suit.

  8. DB

    Maybe it’s got a killer 440 in it!

    • Steve R

      There doesn’t appear to be a distributor at the front of the engine, if that’s the case, it’s a small block. The carb is definitely a 2bbl.

      Steve R

  9. Sparkster

    I prefer the ” Discovery” motorhomes that came out in the early 70″s. The FWD GMC motorhomes were cool back in the day as well. Still kinda are actually.

  10. Sparkster

    Correction they were called ” Discoverer” motorhomes based on a Dodge chassis

  11. Wayne

    I can smell that damp dusky interior from here……… And I’m in Australia

    • Gavin

      Yeh me too Wayne,I am also in Australia and it’s 30 degrees C today.
      All that moisture build up from years sitting outside in the Pacific Northwest. It really is shame when there are all these units around and people still living on the streets in winter ……

      • Wayne

        Gavin, I’m at castle hill nsw, it’s 1400 hrs and 42 celcius

  12. TriPowerVette

    AAAAaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhh!

    I can see someone running from inspecting it in a hazmat suit with Alien attached to their face.

  13. charlie Member

    People bought them with the dream of long vacations, from place to place, no motel reservations to worry about, cook your own meals, and then the reality set in. We contemplated renting one for a 5500 mile trip basically from the Mexican border to the Canadian Rockies, and back. The cost, even for a pretty little one, figuring in the rental fee, the campground fees, and the fuel, and assuming we ate breakfast and lunch in the unit, was more than driving our 4Runner and staying in motels and eating all the significant meals in restaurants. So owning one was even more of a financial mess. Fast depreciation, and, not as much vacation time as we think we are going to have. And, as for retiring in one, various ailments, especially after 75, leave one unable to drive at night, or drive long distances, or be far away from one’s medical care professionals. I bet most of them are dreams gone bust. And the homeless have to live somewhere, these are as good a solution as any, since most places have no solution or no willingness to pay for it.

  14. RicK

    Back in the day (late 60s) a proliferation of mass-produced motorhomes in various brands began to appear but they were scarce in my neighborhood and it wasn’t really till the early seventies that these things really took off and I’m talking Winnebago anyhow if you owned one of these back then you had to have some serious coin

  15. Phillip Tenney Member

    I spotted a red one at a local drag strip a couple of years ago and it was diesel powered and a great paint job too. I looked for it when I had some time but it must have left as couldn’t find it. Really good looking with polished aluminum wheels and the unmistakeable diesel sound as it drove past.It is here in the midwest.

    • Fiete T.

      The 5-lug “Budd-Wheel,” 19.5″ Alcoa wheels? A full set will get you $3500 offers.

  16. John Member

    Had a 74 Travco W/360 4B, yup was a truck. They needed the seam where the clam shell sides connect on the roof sealed otherwise will leak. Plenty of supplies to do it but ya gotta. All MH’s will get 9-12 MPG, don’t matter what size, shape, had a few more then this one. Was great, brought it to Florida for 3 weeks, drove right down Duval St. W/it. Rented it out for 3 yr’s made a bunch of money, it would come in on a Sat., would clean it, service it, and send it out on Sunday. Only thing that broke was a pass. side mirror

  17. chad

    Folks I know don’t have em to save money on hotels etc, but to be in certain places, step out the door/look out the window.

    Oneada best fit thru a normal garage (low enuff) door’n hada BMW diesel gettin in the high 20 MPGs.

  18. Fiete T.

    My uncle ordered a Travco 320 in 1975. Took it to Alaska, where it stayed until the early 2000’s. Brought it down, had it re-vamped and then he & my aunt travelled down the Baja of California, over to Florida, and then up & across the US. They put it up in an airplane hangar, and shortly after my aunt got dementia. Now I own it. They are very cool rigs done right, definitely not a “Stick & staple” POS

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