Working Classic! 1967 CaveMan Caravan Camper

With its shiny Ford cab and the testimony of recent family camping trips, this working camper seeks a new owner to continue loving it and feeding it gas and new adventures. The 1967 CaveMan Caravan rides on a one-ton Ford F350 chassis, and the Vancouver, Washington classic derives power from the storied Ford 390 spinning a four-speed manual transmission. As we go to press, the listing here on eBay has attracted a single $2000 bid, the latter falling short of the seller’s Reserve. Internet evidence suggests this rig sold for $3500 or less in 2018, but upgrades including new tires have improved the truck camper’s value for sure.

Like many truck campers, this Ford chassis shows fewer than 100,000 miles, and I’d believe that’s original mileage. While indelicate shifting might disturb your daughter’s tea party in the back, the manual transmission eliminates the “black box” effect of automatic transmissions that sometimes work great one day and puke their guts up on the road the next. That said, the Ford C6 automatic that might have come with this camper would likely outlast most. I’d take the four-speed any day.

The 390 powered a host of sedans and trucks, as well as some high-performance Mustangs such as Steve McQueen’s high-powered specimen from Bullitt. Unless it was abused in some way other than hauling the camper body around for 92,400 miles, it should have at least another 50,000 to give.

Amenities on the CaveMan Caravan include a sink, a new mattress, propane cook top and furnace, an electric refrigerator, and new tires. I’ve considered buying a vintage camper like this, and I love the look of this unit, from the bare aluminum to the maroon Ford cab.

One look at the interior and you know this camper is pre-’70s, showing no signs of giant flowers, orange, or bright blue. Wait! Is that an avocado sink? No mention is made concerning whether the interior is original, but the listing says “everything works.” I remember envying any kid lucky enough to ride in the bunk above the cab of one of these while going down the road. We did our camping with rented pop-ups, but our own Scotty G. logged some adventures in a truck camper as a youth. That lucky dog! What National Park would you visit in this vintage camper?

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Comments

  1. BlisterEm Member

    “We did our camping with rented pop-ups”? A family member of ours was asked to remove this eyesore from a hunt club property where it has sat for the last 30 years. it’s a time capsule inside. 1973 Apache Solid State from what we can tell so far. Rental tag on the back.

    Like 8
    • Todd Fitch Staff

      Wow, BlisterEm, that’s a flashback. I remember one camping trip from PA to Clear Lake, Ontario. We were pulling a pop-up like that with our ’78? Volare wagon (318 and 3-speed floor shifter!) and another family had about a ’75 455 Olds Custom Cruiser with a similar pop-up. We stopped for gas every second time they did. Thanks for the memories!

      Like 5
      • Alford Pouse Member

        Todd we towed our rental with a Pontiac wagon then moved to a Buick Sport wagon. Our trips were south east to the shore from Oley, Pa. Canada trips were reserved for Dad and his WWII buddies to escape the crowds. LOL

        Like 1
    • Patrick Anderson

      There’s a whole community devoted to these Apache campers. There are a few repro parts available, but restorers have to mainly rely on used or NOS parts. I have one that’;s pretty roached, but it might have $1000 in parts. So I’ll likely part it out.

  2. Terrry

    This is pretty nice, with good running gear too..a 390 FE motor. The camper looks clean and straight too.

    Like 3
  3. Larry D

    Hmmmmm, I wonder who submitted this truck to BF. Yes, I wonder.

    Like 1
  4. Scotty Gilbertson Staff

    A chassis mount truck camper would have been the best, at least in the late-60s/early-70s. Although, we took the Winnebago camper off and drove the pickup when it wasn’t being used for camping duties and that would be hard here. The 4-speed is super cool but with four of us sitting in the front seat that would have been a little awkward. What a sweet rig!

    Like 4
  5. geomechs geomechs Member

    I used to see campers like this around Duck Lake. Hitch up the fishing boat and head out for the weekend. Good time as long as the wind didn’t blow. Most of the campers like this in our region were made from retired school buses. The county finally put limitations on the age and miles for the buses and thus brought mandatory retirement, which in our case, was grossly overdue; but that’s another story. This age and model would’ve been entirely powered by 352 engines or a 300 six (I never saw any of the latter). Looks like a New Process 435 transmission which is fairly solid. At least I never saw any failures. I did see an NP 542 have “young ones” all over the highway but I think that one had a flaw in the case from the get-go. Again, another story. The 390 wasn’t available in a light truck until ’68 but I have no doubt that this truck would benefit from it and the owner took advantage when one came along. The only drawback with the FE was the lube passage to the top end being routed through the water jacket. I saw a few of them that were pumping oil into the coolant. A local machine shop started installing sleeves in the passages which cleared the problems right up. A truck like this in my driveway? Well, I’d need something more dual purpose. A regular box or a deck and a slide-in camper would be just the ticket. When I’m not camping I could be using the truck for something else…

    Like 4
  6. GOM

    Exactly what I think a good camper should be: simple design, durable undercarriage and running gear, readily available replacement parts, fixable “on the road” if necessary. The four speed is icing on the cake, and wouldn’t be out of character for such an otherwise down to earth rig. You wouldn’t worry about the scratches and stone nicks from normal use, you could just enjoy yourself with a clean conscience. I hope someone will buy it and love it for what it is!

    Like 3
  7. Dave Peterson

    When I was very young we lived in Grants Pass. Everything was labeled “Caveman”. Was that where these were built?

    Like 1
  8. Patrick Anderson

    There’s a whole community devoted to these Apache campers. There are a few repro parts available, but restorers have to mainly rely on used or NOS parts. I have one that’;s pretty roached, but it might have $1000 in parts. So I’ll likely part it out.

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