One-Family Motorhome: 1977 Dodge Travco

This gorgeous 1977 Dodge Travco motorhome strikes a bittersweet chord as you read through the description. Somehow, it has survived in impeccable condition, not an easy feat for the type of vehicle that typically becomes a homeless encampment by this stage of its life. No, it’s a one-family owned vehicle used solely for summer vacations with impressive cosmetics but unfortunately, an engine with low compression. Find this tale of preserved woe here on eBay with bids to $5,900 and the reserve unmet.

In addition to the striking exterior styling, the Travco is extremely well appointed inside. The Travco is equipped with an Onan generator, a roof-top air conditioner; and a generous fridge/freezer combination. The interior trim is accented by walnut-type decor, and seat cushions look too fresh to not have been replaced at some point. The good news is that the long-term single-family ownership means that answering questions about the motorhome’s history should be pretty easy to address.

Usually, motorhomes of this vintage bear all the hallmarks of neglect, most vividly seen in water intrusion that warps panels and causes mold to fester. Not so here, as the seller notes there are no leaks and an independent inspection of all vital R/V systems indicated that everything functions as it should – except for the engine, but more on that in a moment. The seller notes both front windshields are cracked but that a local vendor will replace them to the tune of $1,800. Mileage is indicated as being approximately 136,000.

The engine is a runner, and curiously, the seller says it runs and drives great. Despite this enthusiastic description, a leak-down test revealed that the engine is not the picture of health, with weak compression of varying degrees across all eight cylinders. It has to be somewhat grave, as the seller has already priced out an engine swap with a local shop to the tune of $4,000, including the replacement engine. Would you take on this gorgeous R/V project in the hopes of breathing new life into the drivetrain while enjoying the high state of preservation all around you?

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Comments

  1. Howard A Member

    Well, doesn’t look good for the old Travco. Used to be, these were the nicest motorhomes you could buy. Still a glorified cabover straight truck ( sitting over the steer axle) but you had to start somewhere, and before the Ultimate Behemoths of today, this was the best it got. Windshields $1800 BUCKS? Engine $4,000 bucks? Looks like the next stop for the old Travco is the Monster Truck Show, coming soon to an arena near you,,,

    Like 6
    • Mountainwoodie

      HoA: The Oracle.!…just cracking me up with your clever insights and not-so-subtle-subtleness.

      Imho the “Seventies” were the nadir of style and substance in almost everything American……from polyester pantsuits on Midwest car salesman to smog strangled behemoth American cars and of course….disco.

      Unfortunately the Travco fits the sad narrative of that decade. On the plus side, it hasn’t been turned into a rolling meth lab.so there’s that. Like Brian would sing while hanging on the cross……..look on the bright side of life!

      And with the bidding up to 11K….some clueless millennial hipster be on the loose!

      Like 4
  2. Red Riley

    I’m seeing a Hellcat hemi swap.

    Like 6
    • jerry

      to hell with that! this would be the perfect home for a 5.9 cummins with a allison automatic transmission and put a gear vendors 2 speed in the drive shaft! and you would have a nice motor shack for 1/10th of a new one! would make a great rolling cat house!

      Like 8
  3. Gaspumpchas

    Park it someplace and use it for a weekend hideaway, sad as the gut is really in great shape. Wonder what his reserve is? for all of the work it needs, I’d be looking for a good home for it. You can buy a decent used RV for all this coin.
    Cheers
    GPC

    Like 3
  4. Poppapork

    I think an engine and trans pull-out from a wrecked modern HD truck should go into.this.

    Ps. Wonder whats the date code on the tires

    Like 4
    • Paul Wesner

      Tire DOT code is “DOT EK LU HKF 425”

      Like 2
      • Harold

        Week 42, year 95, wow must bias ply.

  5. flmikey

    Looks like the engine might have been cracked open once before, as I am sure the original engine did not come with Mickey Thompson valve covers…that being said, this might be a bargain, as prices on motor homes have been going way up…

    Like 6
  6. Martin

    A Wanderlodge is the best Howard. A Travco is a poor imitation.

    Like 2
    • Howard A Member

      That’s true. My old man had the lowly Winnebago, a step below the Travco.

    • Fiete T.

      Travco had the front & rear steel caps & full “Back bone” frame, and the clamp shelled 2-halves “Skin.” They weren’t cheap and not nearly as unsafe as many were in a collision. In fact, they were so ‘cheap’ that Foretravel bought them…

      Like 2
    • Alan Volk

      Wanderlodge all the way. Many are still on the road. I worked for Blue Bird in Brantford ON, Canada.

  7. Stangalang

    Run some seafoam through it might help that engine

    Like 3
  8. Fred w

    If it doesn’t smoke, could just need a valve job

    Like 11
  9. nlpnt

    Not just the date code, make sure they’re not Goodyear G159s, those are city box-truck tires unsuited for the open road but sold as an RV tire.

    https://jalopnik.com/the-tragedy-of-goodyear-s-allegedly-defective-g159-tire-1830404569

    Like 2
  10. canadainmarkseh Member

    My thinking is that you could do what I’ve called a poor mans rebuild. That’s where you pull the intake and heads as well as the oil pan. ( the engine stays attached to the frame and transmission) Then pull the pistons out the top. Hone the cylinder holes, fresh cylinder heads, fresh piston rings, bearing and rebuilt heads, valve seals, and a new timing chain set. Finally replace all gaskets and seals. I’ve done this many times and have been successful at breathing new life into many engines. I know that this would work here too and you’d get the compression and power back. Foot note : in order to be successful you need to use cast iron rings as a posed to chrome rings.

    Like 9
    • Howard A Member

      We called it, an “in-frame major”.

      Like 4
      • canadainmarkseh Member

        Yes Howard but on a diesel truck it would also include a re sleeve of the cylinders and a regrind of the crank shaft. The way I’ve done it on gas engines does not guarantee perfectly round cylinders. That why you need the cast iron rings they run in faster. So there is some rule breaking with my method. That’s why I call it the poor mans rebuild. But you are completely correct in calling it an in frame. I’ve done these rebuilds for about $400.00 in parts not $4000.00.

        Like 4
  11. Patrick Huot

    I’m no expert on these, but I like the aerodynamic look. I could see a cool updated look on it.
    I’d gut the whole interior and start over.
    As for the outside, I’d do some fancy paint job to get rid of that 70’s color scheme it has now.
    A new engine wouldn’t hurt it a bit. (just the wallet)

    • Jasper

      It’s that no one has ever remodeled/rethought this is why it’s so cool. Most remodeled RVs you come across are akin to a train wreck and look inappropriately dated. Someone kept this up and looks like always in a garage.
      Cool rig. I hope someone who’ll love it, gets it.

      Like 3
  12. Jimmy

    My sister and her husband had a nice motorhome similar in age and condition that they used as a guest house, rarely took it on the road, when my BIL passed 2 years ago she tried getting 4K with no offers she gave it away to a local campgrounds to use as a rental if they would come get it.

    Like 1
  13. pwtiger

    I just gave away an older Dodge chassis Motorhome, I was to lazy to pull the big block. There are plenty cheap or free on craigslist in So Cal. All you need is time and ambition to get a good running engine/trans to swap into this beauty…

  14. Terry Bowman

    It’s a small block motor, possible a 360, by the look of the Distributor wires. They should be easy to come by. I just happen to have one that came out of a Dodge Van camper (75′) with 54,000 miles on it. I had it in storage for 25 years and was waiting for something like this to come by. Only problem is i’m getting to old now to swap it out. The 360’s are a good work motor, with the longer stroke then the 318 or the other small blocks.

    Like 1
    • Brian

      This is a big block. Either a BB or an RB. Small blocks (LA or Magnums) have the distributor on the rear of the engine and use the intake manifold to close the lifter valley.

      • Terry Bowman

        Brian, your right. I was looking at the motor backwards. I should know better, because I have had a Dodge Van my whole adult life and the way I would give it a tune up was from the inside and not from the front of the motor. I thought a 360 was a little light for such a large motor home. Many of the Van campers had the 360, but some also had the 400 or 440’s.

        Like 1
  15. Chris Londish Member

    130 thousand odd miles on a 360 the question to ask is it using oil and is it hard to start these are a 300thousand mile motors

    • Perry

      The motor is an RB…probably a 440 given the model/year. If you enlarge the engine pic, you’ll see that the distributor is up front by the radiator. Chrysler’s LA engines all have the dizzy at the rear. This is a 670 lb engine. With no front doors, wrestling that engine off it’s mounts and out the side door would be a daunting task. Better off doing a quickie ring and hone job with the block in place…and have the heads done. Or better yet, put a set of 440 Source aluminum heads on it.

  16. Carl

    If I had the time got a 5.9 Cummins auto trans 36000 miles would go nice transfer case and front drive axel make it go anywhere

    Like 1
    • tomdavis

      what year?

  17. stillrunners Stillrunners Member

    Clean…..

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