If you spend any time on the Instagram photo-based social media platform, you may have come across one of the numerous accounts run by adventurous souls who have traded many of their worldly possessions -- including a fixed address -- for a camper van in which they travel the continent, stopping only to visit friends and see the sights.
Most people who have adopted the van lifestyle do so in relatively modern vans like Mercedes-Benz Sprinters, a version of which Dodge sold for a short time, when Chrysler and Benz were tied up in an ill-fated merger. Our latest Find of the Week hearkens back to a simpler time for Chrysler and its venerable full-size vans, as we take a look at a compelling candidate for anyone looking to hit the road, either permanently or part-time.
The van in question is a 1988 Dodge B250 in extended-wheelbase form that has been subjected to what appears to be a quality camper conversion, for sale in the nation's capital with nearly unbelievably low mileage for a vehicle intended to be used for getting the heck out of, um, Dodge.
In the description, the seller says he and his wife have put about 5,000 km on the van, with the five-digit odometer showing a total of 63,000 km. Naturally, that leaves room for a fair bit of ambiguity as to whether the total is actually 163,000, but the seller says the pre-purchase inspection he had done before he bought the van suggested that what you see is what you get.
Our seller also suggests that in his time with the 5.2L (or 318 cubic inch) V8-powered van, its fuel consumption has averaged "25-30 km per gallon." Given the van's metric gauges and the seller's Irish nationality (as revealed in a YouTube walkaround video linked in the ad), we're going to assume he means the 4.55-litre Imperial gallon, which works out to 18.2 L/100 km, based on 25 km/gallon. According to Natural Resources Canada's fuel consumption database, a 1995 Dodge Ram 2500 van was rated at 19.7/14.5 L/100 km (city/highway) with a four-speed automatic, and 20.1/17.7 L/100 km when fitted with a three-speed transmission. All that to say we're inclined to believe that 18.2 L/100 km is an accurate enough real-world figure for this particular home on wheels.
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If that's the case, this is a surprisingly efficient van, considering the 5.2L was never exactly a paragon of efficiency. The seller says the previous owner removed the propane and water tanks originally fitted to the van's frame in order to save weight, which would help explain the impressive economy figures.
Nevertheless, that 5.2L engine was a product of its time, and it generated all of 170 hp and 280 lb-ft of torque in this application, and you'd need all of that to move a vehicle we figure weighs at least 2,500 kg.
So, if you're not in a hurry, read on: our seller says the previous owner changed the van's interior layout, moving the rear passenger bench seat to a front-to-back orientation behind the driver's seat, leaving seatbelts for four people. These seats also fold out to create temporary, but not incredibly comfortable, sleeping space. New stuff includes a portable toilet (located in the closet and apparently unused since its installation by the previous owners), curtains for the windows and bug screens for both the side and rear doors. Dining seats at the back convert into the main sleeping accommodations that the seller says are plenty large enough to accommodate his five-foot-ten-inch frame.
Other amenities include a two-burner propane stove with a five-pound tank, a fridge that will run off either AC or DC electricity or propane, folding table, portable gas BBQ with four new tanks, toaster oven, coffee maker, kettle and a stow-away awning. While the water tank is gone, the seller says all the plumbing still works when hooked up to a campground water supply. The kitchen also features a slick tile backsplash.
In his YouTube video, the seller points out a couple of rust spots behind the rear wheels, and another on one of the side doors, which he said the previous owner was quoted $2,000 to fix. The video also shows five brand new tires, including the spare.
There are power locks and windows and air conditioning that all work, and the skylight windows installed during the camper conversion are said to be totally leak-proof.
The main question here is whether this van's $11,000 asking price is fair, and while we aren't up on camper conversion values, we suspect it's not a bad deal at all. We found one other Dodge camper conversion for sale on AutoTrader.ca, a 1994 model with 243,000 km on its odometer but boasting ducted central air conditioning and an asking price $1,000 less.
It's easy to be charmed by some of the slick home- and custom-designed van interiors you'll see in those Instagram feeds. While we figure a 30-year-old van would come with its own "charms," but all told, this week's Find of the Week looks like a perfectly comfortable travel vehicle perfect for explorers who consider the journey at least as important as the destination.