One of 700: 1979 Dodge Wrangler 4×4 Van

195469

Do you ever spot a vehicle for sale and swear you once owned a Hot Wheels just like it? I’m almost compelled to rummage through my collection (still stored at my parents’ house, until they force me to move them) and see if I have a version of this 1979 Dodge Wrangler 4×4 van here on eBay. This is a relatively scarce vehicle built by an aftermarket supplier known as Champion Home Builders Co., and the seller claims only 700 were ever made. Bidding is over $6,000 with a Buy-It-Now of $9,900.

195477

Very little information is publicly available, aside from what I can find in scans of old advertisements. Champion Home Builders was based in Michigan and apparently had a four-wheel drive division for reasons unknown to me. This was the group that took Dodge’s standard-issue B100 (or B200) van with a 360 V8 and Torqueflite transmission, then incorporated Champion’s 4WD system paired to a 3.23 ratio rear axle. The venerable 318 was another engine option, and all vans came with power steering and brakes and an automatic transmission.

195490

Although not necessarily marketed as a camper or recreational vehicle, the Wrangler was designed to get you where you needed to go, no matter how rough the terrain. Although I can’t find specific specs, it’s clear that the work Champion raised the ride height considerably. It’d be fascinating to know more about how a company labeled as a “home builder” had the expertise needed to build a reliable four-wheel drive system, but I’m sure the reference to home construction was just one aspect of their business portfolio. If anything, they should know how to make a van livable!

195475

The fact that this rare Wrangler van still wears its original graphics is reason enough to give this special truck a closer look. The interior may not be in mint condition, but it’s tidy enough for a vehicle clearly intended to live an outdoor lifestyle. The body is impressively solid with no evidence of rust, so I’m inclined to believe the seller’s Palm Springs location is indicative of a dry, West Coast existence. If I were looking for an adventure vehicle, I’d look no further than this rig. Have you ever seen one in the flesh, or only in your die-cast model collection like yours truly?

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Comments

  1. Cody

    Wow, someone already bought it on the but it now. I think this van is incredibly cool. Interesting history too. I wont comment on the price (I’m sure plenty will give there two…….thousand cents on the price and ethics of selling a car) because I haven’t a clue. Someone thought it was worth the price though, and you only need one.

    Like 1
    • john

      does anyone know where i can get some more information and or specs on this dodge wrangler van 4 x 4?

      Like 2
      • john

        i’m looking myself, can’t find much. i bought one. a 1979 just like the one in the picture but rough. runs great. looking to maybe sell it.6125088228

        Like 1
      • Jacob McIntyre

        I’m looking for info too. I have a ’78 Tradesman 100 and was thinking about doing a 4×4 conversion to it. I have a 79 Chevy K10 drivetrain and I’m just looking to see what the front of the frame looks like to see if I need to do any modification to the frame, like an extra crossmember. I’m thinking the spring pockets will be in a different position.

    • SuperDan71

      Well, I can tell everyone this, I searched and searched for over 4 years for a company that would convert my ’94 Dodge Falcon (Pre Roadtrek) into a 4×4. I did find one company that would do it, All he was willing to do was Install a Front Axle under the van !! No transfer case, Nothing other than than the front axle !! And he wanted $10K !!!!!!. Of course I hung up pretty fast. BUT, After 4 years of searching, I couldn’t find ANYTHING about how to convert a DODGE VAN into a 4×4. So after all the searching, I found a Dodge Wrangler Van in Colorado, And I drove there and bought it !! And I’m so glad I did !! The amount of “Fabrication Work” done to these vans is CRAZY !!. There’s NO WAY someone could build something as good as this without Knowing A LOT about Dodges and 4x4s !! One day I’ll swap the drivetrain over to my Campervan and have the BADDEST CAMPERVAN AROUND !!. Has some rust around the corners and NO TITLE, But one isn’t hard to get !. I took it to a OFF-ROAD Event here in Florida and not only did I surprise myself, But I impressed some Serious Off-roaders with it’s performance ! . These were VERY WELL BUILT !! And is a VERY CAPABLE VEHICLE OFF-ROAD !!!. 32 inch Buchshot Mudders takes it almost anywhere !!. If you get a chance at buying one, DO IT !!! The Dodge Wrangler Van is the coolest 4×4 van ever built !

  2. Oingo

    I am surprised somebody risked dealing with a seller with a recent neg on a vehicle sale that claimed serious misrepresentation.

    Like 1
  3. MH

    What an amazing van. Well worth the price! Growing up my dad had the same van but a regular 2WD. That thing was awesome. It was a cargo van and before the days of car seats. Our car seats were lawn chairs in the back. Not tied or bolted down either. Oh those were the good old days.

    Like 1
    • boxdin

      We started out with bean bag chairs, stomp on the brakes and they went flying!!!

      • Cleric

        Back in the 1980s when it was still “safe” to do so, my Scoutmaster had a custom Dodge van that we’d take on outings. It was the longer model. He had the seat removed and we’d sit on bean bag chairs and rest our legs on our sleeping bags. A lot of great road tips!

  4. Ricky Rover

    wow…..Sold for only $8k, unbelievable………rusted out Ford Quigley 4×4 vans bring $15,000 and up!! This was a steal.

    Like 1
  5. Matt

    As with the red 4×4 gmc vandura, this was on Craigslist last month for 3000 bucks. Serious flipping going.

  6. Spridget

    There was a 4×4 Hot Wheels van! It was caller the Baja Breaker, and it shared the base with the bywayman truck. It even had an opening hood!

    • Steven C

      I had one! It was an orange ford with black openning hood.

  7. boxdin

    Champion had a wierd way of converting to 4wd. Coil springs were used which made a much better ride than leaf springs. Front suspension was similar to a Ford model A, a triangle w a rotating connecting point in the rear. The odd part is that rear anchor point is a trailer hitch ball mounted upside down, with the corresponding trailer hitch welded to the triangle. Hope that makes sense, when I saw it I couldn’t believe it. Sorry I don’t have a pic, maybe I can find one.

    Like 1
  8. Ron

    I own one set up as a camper conversion.
    Still running strong.
    Champion home builders was a company that made motorhomes mostly on the dodge chasis (transvan).
    There was a review of this vehicle in the July 1979 fourwheeler magazine.
    I think this one was sold with very low price.

  9. William Edward

    i am the proud owner of a 1979 Dodge van(shorty)second owner.
    balanced/blueprinted 318 and it runs !!!
    mileage is pretty good in town, manual trans.
    but i have heard this too much about theses vans(that i love)and am experiencing it now.
    the Dodge eats ball joints.
    it is true, but i dont know why, can somebody enlighten me ?
    🇺🇸🇺🇸🇺🇸go mopar🇺🇸🇺🇸🇺🇸

  10. boxdin

    Can you post a pic of the front end and suspension? or a few pics?

  11. Chris

    Had a 79 as well 360 but it had papers for a conversion place in California thrush steps with exhaust coming out the rear of them Fiberglas 1/4 panels and a 40 gallon gas tank had an A frame front end with coils unbelievable how fast it was but rode like a stagecoach did go through ball joints and tie rod ends only ones I found to fit were from a 60s international harvester

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