1977 Plymouth Voyager Custom
Up for auction today is a fairly rare 1977 Plymouth PB 200 (3/4 ton) window van on a 127” wheelbase powered by a 318 and 727 auto trans. I need to reduce my project list and the project I will hate to see go the most will be this fine old van named Herb. 1977 is arguably the best year of the pinch nosed Dodge/Plymouth vans. I can easily make the point that this could very well be the perfect classic car for a beginner as well as a seasoned car guy. It’s rare without having any parts problems (I believe there are less than 12 parts on the van that are different from the same years of Dodge, ll emblems—BONUS). Car show/cruise night people LOVE old vans. It’s still a viable second car you can drive to work. On the weekend, se it to move the contents of a 3 bedroom house or load bikes, amping gear, otorcycles and go someplace. Try THAT with your ‘Vette or Hemi Whatever. For those not familiar with PLYMOUTH vans of the disco era, ere is a fast tutorial: Some wise marketer somewhere deep in the bowels (pun intended) of the Chrysler Corporation (circa 1972) had the good idea to “badge engineer” the very successful “New for 1971” Dodge window vans as Plymouth station wagons. Badge engineering is exactly what it says. Take a present model of a vehicle (in this case a Dodge B 100-300 window van) and simply rebadge it for sale in another Chrysler Division, lymouth. This is a fairly common practice today but was unusual for the mid-70’s. It was decided that as long as Plymouth only got window vans (Voyagers sold as station wagons) that their sales wouldn’t impact the sales of the Dodge division that had both panel (Tradesman) AND window vans (Sportsman) available for their customers. It’s a bit more complex than that, ’m sure, ut this is an auction description, ot a white paper on Chrysler’s manufacturing practices in the 70’s. The full sized vans carried the Plymouth badge from 1974 to 1984. The Plymouth vans were built by the Dodge Division on the same production lines as the Tradesman/Sportsman. The 1977 build ratio Dodge to Plymouth vans was about 30 to 1; 1 Plymouth to every 28-30 Dodges produced or roughly 1 production day for Plymouth per month. Back to Herb. I bought this van off eBay about 3 years ago from the original Michigan owner’s estate and it is a Michigan van in Texas. I’m the second owner. When I bought it, t had just been marginally reawakened from a long (7-10 year) storage in a nice home garage by the original owners son who was able to provide the van’s history, f not a very accurate time line. Here’s what I learned: It was ordered and purchased new by the man’s father in west Michigan and was used for family camping trips almost exclusively but sometimes as the second car. The interior modifications were performed very soon after purchase. His father passed away while he was giving the van a facelift and it was garage parked in late 2004, nfinished. I purchased it to help a friend to move with in 2011 and started to bring it back mechanically so it would be safe for her to use. I am going to say here that I firmly believe that what I purchased was an honestly very low mileage, riginal 1977 Plymouth van with less than 22,000 miles and defy anyone to argue that. Case in point: when we started the mechanical upgrade, e replaced original spark plug wires, riginal metal windshield wipers, riginal exhaust, riginal engine belts, riginal factory shocks, ated radiator hoses from 1976, ou get the drift. The telling factor was the oil change sticker archeology (they were glued all over the door jambs!!) that went on as the van was cleaned up. The newest noted oil change was in April 2004, aped in the glove box at about 21,400 miles and still there. The oldest was January, 978 at about 3800 miles. More evidence is in the interior. That is the original seat upholstery and has a small seam split in the passenger seat that has been repaired. Original arm rests. Original front rubber mat. Under the uber strange rear carpet lays the original factory rubber mat and from what I can see, t is perfect. I have left the weird rear carpet in place because it’s in pretty good shape, rotects the original rubber mat but it was also installed very well despite the “contrasting” pattern to the rest of the interior. If you wanted a DIY pattern for a replacement carpet, ou could do worse than that old one, o it stayed. When Herb was new, he also questionably contrasting wall treatment was lifted from a wrecked van that had a higher trim level and seems to be fully insulated with foam board behind it. The van was also Ziebarted when new, ticker still in the back window. Enough preliminaries, et’s get to the greasy bits. This van runs and drives great. I have receipts for all of the following: 5 Mastercraft whitewall tires, Monroe HD shocks, omplete brake system from the master cylinder down including lines and wheel cylinders, omplete exhaust system, ll of the cooling system including the radiator and rebuilt windshield wipers. The right tie rod end that was bad from the factory on nearly every one of these vans and gave them “Ouija” steering—you moved the steering to where you thought it should be and waited for a message from beyond—was replaced with a very expensive, ut the only correct fix, oog part. Replaced every conceivable “maintenance after long storage” item including plugs, ires, ll filters, ll hoses, ll belts, REAL trans flush with pan gasket, alve cover gaskets, ront laser aligned, he 36 gallon (36 GALLON!!) gas tank was dropped and cleaned and a new alternator was installed about a week ago. No 38 year old vehicle is perfect and this one is no different despite its low mileage. When this was built, he philosophy of the car makers was “planned obsolescence”—make them replace the vehicle every 5 years. Traditionally with these built-to-a-price-point Mopar vehicles, t about 30,000 miles, ou took it into the dealer and had 3 things done: replace the badly leaking valve cover gaskets (done), ave the fiber timing gear/tin foil timing chain replaced with a Moog double roller steel timing chain set (still is OK but never hurts to do it ASAP) and replace the famously porous original valve seals (the puff of blue smoke at start up says it’s getting there in the next 5000 miles or so depending on your local sniffer Nazis). The brake pedal has recently started sticking so you have to pull it up or see what the cause is. Fixes are easy and available from NAPA or as simple as a spray of grease. If the van sits for more than a week, t takes the tranny a bit to come to the party until the fluid warms up. Tightening the transmission bands was a home maintenance thing and can be accomplished DIY using the included 1977 factory service manual (see pics). The other modification that made these vehicles much more user friendly is the installation of and learning how to use a manual (hand) choke. Take a rainy day, op the engine cover and sit in the passenger seat while you install it. Take my word, t’s a game changer on old Mopars. The body is as it was the last time the original owner worked on it at least 10 years ago. As noted above, he body was Ziebarted (Google it) new and it shows. No rust out in the floors but the underside shows some minor surface rust. It looks like the van got bumped in the right front corner some time in its early life and shows some cracked bondo. Can’t find any anywhere else. There isn’t a speck of rust in the drip rails; what’s THAT worth?? Pictures show all the sore points and will take more if you need them, o problem. I decided to do the bodywork last because it was so minor and even a cheap Maaco paint job today is vastly better than what the factory laid down in 1977. Flawed cars just seem so much more approachable and leaving the flaws for the new owner to address if they want made sense. Included in the auction are a couple extra correct wheels (snow tires in Michigan, abay!!) and a good sized box of spare factory parts. There is a new set of Metro molded door gaskets for the side and back doors and new window fuzzies for the front ones. I’ll throw in the 1977 factory brochures I have acquired. The original owner’s manual is in the glove compartment. As mentioned above, ou also get a 1977 factory service manual and a 1977 factory parts manual as well. There you have it. Herb is a great old van that needs a great new home. Any questions, lease ask. More pictures available and will custom shoot if there is something you want to see. “Can I drive it home?” depends entirely on your sense of adventure. No guarantees or warranty but I have no reason to deceive. Will accommodate shippers as best as I can but shipping is entirely the responsibility of the buyer. Bid high and bid often. Hell, id drunk and only once, ’m not judgmental, ut if you can’t complete the transaction within the scope of eBay’s policies, lease don’t bid at all. Thanks for reading this far.