Vintage Motorhome: 1973 Dodge Travco 270

As if homeownership wasn’t complicated enough, then you put your home on wheels and that doubles the equation. Then, make it a vintage motorhome like this 1973 Dodge Travco and you’d do well to know a thing or two about home and vehicle maintenance. That being said, this looks like a nice example and it can be found here on craigslist in Toledo, Ohio with an asking price of a mere $2,450. Thanks to Pat L. for sending in this tip!

I hope that opening paragraph didn’t sound like I wasn’t a big fan of vintage campers, trailers, and motorhomes because I am a fan. I’ve mentioned too many times that growing up in the 1960s and 70s, I was a nerdy kid who got several camping magazines like Camper Coachman, Motorhome, and Trailer Life. I also got Motor Trend so there’s that, but there was not much in life that I wanted more than for my parents to get a motorhome like this Travco. They never did, but they got a big Winnebago pickup camper brand new in 1969 (that’s me on the right) with a new Ford F-250 camper special pickup. For four people, it was a tight squeeze but it worked for the 16 years that we ended up using it.

A gentleman named Ray Frank created a motorhome in the late-1950s for his personal use and he ended up being inundated with inquiries about it so he started a company to build them, using the Dodge chassis which was good for both companies. A series of events led Mr. Frank’s company, Dodge Frank Motor Home, to go bankrupt but it emerged in the mid-1960s as Travco.

There were five different lengths of the Travco motorhome, 21, 22, 27, 29, and 32 feet. As with most things, people liked the middle option, it wasn’t too small or too big. This example is a 27-foot model known as the 270 and you can see that it doesn’t appear to have been updated over the course of the last few decades. The seller mentions that it runs and drives, but will need work.

The drivetrain is a Dodge 413 cubic-inch V8 with a recent tune-up and there’s a large Onan generator that has been rebuilt. Travco motorhomes are known for being tough, lifetime RVs, and very well made. With some maintenance and a little updating, this could be a fun vintage motorhome. Are there any vintage RV fans or owners out there?

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Comments

  1. Bluetec320 Bluetec320 Member

    Definitely a time warp and rough around the edges, but looks like a decent project at a fair price. The only thing that I can see that needs replaced immediately, is that spare tire cover, lol.

    Like 15
    • Scotty Gilbertson Staff

      HA!

      Like 6
  2. Terrry

    The biggest enemies of old motor homes are leaks and dry rot. The way that this is constructed, I don’t think it has either. This could be a good buy for someone who wants to update it.

    Like 5
  3. AZVanman

    I love your enthusiasm, Scotty, and wish I had the drive to tackle a project like this since I built Snap-on Tool vans in the late 70’s and custom vans in the 80’s, so this type of work is right up my alley. And Terrry is right, starting with a body shell like this one helps considerably.

    Like 6
  4. Alan Brase

    I wonder how hard it would be to get a bit better fuel mileage from one of these. I suppose repowering with Cummins, would do it. Not sure if that would involve the rear axle as well? Or are there other downsides to this plan?

    Like 3
    • Todd Fitch Staff

      Hello Alan. I’ve had the same thought. If you drove it for years something like a Cummins swap or the Ford 6.7 PSD would pay off for sure. I got nearly 17 MPG with a 6.7 in an F250 pulling a Chrysler Imperial on an 800 lb trailer. Criss-cross the states a few times and that would really add up. A decent compromise might be to keep the motor but add EFI and overdrive. If you do something along those lines let us know!

      Like 1
  5. Howard A Member

    The author and I share a common childhood, in that, my folks too took us camping. My old man pulled a camper, and DID evolve into the motorhome scene. His 1st, was the standard issue original Winnebago/Dodge truck,and a miserable ride that was, but his 2nd was an Escapade,( still Dodge chassis) and was a bit better, but still, nothing like the “Prevosts” of today. They were still glorified single axle dump trucks, and drove like one too. I think this is a great, inexpensive way to get into woods, any long distance should be discouraged, unless you like riding in a dump truck across country. Also, on long trips, a vehicle to get around, like a Jeep, is often dragged along, further reducing fuel mileage. Fuel mileage aside, for short trips, you can’t go wrong here. Just be prepared, the RV market is probably THE most inflated, and that plumbing valve( or whatever) unique to this camper, may cost you $100 bucks ( originally $9.95) if someone even has one. I can just hear it now, “oh yeah, we see this a lot, that whole water system has to be replaced,,,,for EIGHT THOUSAND BUCKS!!! Think I’m kidding?They know they can get away with it, because, if you are even there at all, money in the RV market should not be an issue. Great find.

    Like 4
  6. Car Nut Tacoma

    Beautiful looking Travco. I find this way more attractive than anything offered by Winnebago. If only more pics were posted on Craigslist. The more we can see of the Travco, the better.

    Like 2
  7. jwh

    When did they switch to “Budd” type wheels as opposed to the Split Rims on many Winnebago’????

    • Howard A Member

      1st, these are shiny wheel covers, but the rims are still tubeless, and split rims for smaller sizes was phased out, I believe in the early 70’s.

  8. Johnmloghry Johnmloghry Member

    oh my God Scotty. Did your mother dress you like that on purpose? Lol.
    These old motor homes are a challenge to say the least, been there, done that. But still I do hope someone treats this rig to a nice fix up.
    God bless America

    Like 1
  9. chrlsful

    these R good, better (best? not sure on that) due to the continuous shell (upgrade insulation easily, is nice’n watertight) compared to alu’n multi panels. As just nother rig I’s say (as I always do) 21v/allison conversion (power/MPGs). I believe they hada 21 too, that’s all I need as solo trucker.

  10. arthur starr

    Is your Tacoma hard on gas.

  11. Car Nut Tacoma

    I’d buy a Travco if I had someone to share the experience and the responsibilities with. I’d keep as much as stock original as can be done, while also upgrading some things as well.

  12. RMac

    A Mopar 413 cu in in 1973 not a 440??
    That must not be the original motor??
    The drive train alone is probably worth the current price.

    Like 1
    • tex cloud

      i have a 1973 Starcrest all fiberglass class A on Dodge M400 Chassis 413 c i industrial different heads and water pump these things can go all day and never flounder converted mine to Bud wheels also have a Mitchell frame mount O D i want to install also big block chevy throttle body mopar gm have same firing order it doesnt know what its sitting on thanks

  13. Car Nut Tacoma

    I think the 413 Cu. In. engine was available at this time. Whether it powered this particular Travco, I don’t know. But I’ve read that it was available.

  14. RMac

    I always understood 413 was phased out of cars in 1965 and only continued in dodge heavy trucks until 1972 maybe the chassis was a 72 sometimes RV makers date their vehicles differently than the chassis model date

    Like 1
    • Car Nut Tacoma

      It’s possible. I’d buy a 1972 or later Travco 270, and install a Cummins Turbo Diesel.

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