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Old 07-08-2018, 01:28 PM   #1
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Should I buy it?

Hello all, 1st post from a potential owner!

I'm looking at a '95 pop-top Dodge 3500 with a 5.2L, which has 100K miles, going for $14K dollars.

I'd like to use it to flat tow my old Landcruiser on camping trips, and the Landcruiser weighs about 4K lbs. There is a 5000' mountain I drive over to get to the desert. I do have plenty of flat towing experience, by the way.

Can anyone tell me off hand, if the 5.2L and transmission might be up for the task? The Sportsmobile does have stock size tires...

Is there anything else I should check out drivetrain wise?

I can figure out all the camper related stuff.

Thanks so much!
Brian.
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Old 07-08-2018, 01:53 PM   #2
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It will do the job just fine, most likely.



Consider a 1995 Dodge 5.2 had about 230 hp. A Ford 351 like mine had about 210. A 2009 or later Ford 5.4 has about 290 hp. So more modern engines have more hp (and torque). But I towed trailers for years (up to 8000 lbs from So Cal to North Rim Grand Canyon and beyond) with big overpasses and only 245 horsepower - with the Dodge 5.9 which I lovingly refer to as a dog. Heavy drinker.


One of the biggest issues with towing is sail area. With a camping trailer - you push a lot of wind. But with a van - your landcruiser will be "drafting" the van and it will have less overall drag. Engineer types may disagree but I think it's the case.


The other big factor is leverage. What tire height does it have and what rear end gears does it have? If you have stock height tires - then 3.73 gears or 3.90 will be perfect. If you have highway gears - it will be a bit less ideal but even that has a side benefit - you can generally keep in "D" for drive (not overdrive) and be right in the power band and not have to shift much at all except in the steepest inclines. You can get this info from the VIN if it's not modified.



If someone decided to lift it and put bigfoot tires on it - bets are off.


What I always say - test it how you will tow it - as the best assessment.
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Old 07-08-2018, 03:08 PM   #3
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I had a 95 Sportsmobile with the 5.8 (ford) and it was a dog going up grades without towing anything. I don't know what gears it had in it, but with an older gas motor, I would consider the cost of getting it regeared if it doesn't have at least a 4.10 gear ratio.
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Old 07-08-2018, 03:17 PM   #4
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With my Dodge 5.9 I went from 3.55 to 4.10 gears and it was definitely "too much of a good thing". Thus the 3.73 or 3.90 suggestion. My Ford with 5.8 is 3.42 so we're talking major highway gears. If you have your Ford vin you could see what it was equipped with - maybe same as mine. Would not want to tow heavy with it :-)
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Old 07-08-2018, 04:22 PM   #5
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Me personally, no.
$14K for a 30+ year old van is way expensive.
If you're just towing, plenty of better and cheaper options available.
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Old 07-08-2018, 06:30 PM   #6
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Thanks so much for the replies folks, I really appreciate it.

Yes it appears to have the stock size wheels and tires so I figure the gearing hasn't been "deoptimized", but yes, I realize a gear change or even a gear-vendor case might be necessary. Whatever it needs to get the RPM range right for climbing the big hill, since I wouldn't have surplus HP.

I also agree $14K seems like a lot for a '95. Why I think this type of vehicle will work for me is:
It will tow my 4x4 or motorcycle (on a small trailer)
Good place to sleep
Not take up too much room parked on the street.
Relatively inexpensive. (compared to buying a Toybox travel trailer and truck to pull it)
Fair gas mileage
Good head room. (I'm 6'3")

I've been going in circles for the last couple of years about what I should buy to pull my Landcruiser and give me a comfortable place to crash out, solo BTW. I almost bought a small enclosed trailer outfit into a travel trailer and pull behind my Landcruiser, but that has some significant drawbacks. No A/C being the largest.

Seeing the pop-top vans seems like it fits the bill just about perfectly. Even the older ones are spendy though. BBasso mentioned better/cheaper options. Do you mean within the camper van category, or in a different vehicle category altogether? Maybe a slightly new van for a little more money? I'd love to hear and and all suggestion you guys have! I'm all ears. Thanks again folks.

And because everyone loves pics.
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Old 07-08-2018, 06:57 PM   #7
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Seems a bit pricey. Keep in mind the van will already be pretty heavy from.the conversion.
I just got my 98 dodge 3500 eb weighted and it was 7870lbs with 2 passengers. I considered towing a 3-4k lbs trailer, which would put it at 12. With a max combined rating at 13k it will probably be in the truck lane going uphill.

Since urs is the standard body it might be slightly better though.
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Old 07-08-2018, 08:13 PM   #8
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Yes I ment less expensive options for a camper van, and newer too.
I don't know what your requirements are for a camper that can tow, so searching for you want would be optimal.
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Old 07-08-2018, 08:47 PM   #9
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Great, thanks so much for the help guys.

So it seems it would probably be up for the task of towing, albeit slowly at times. And it's overpriced.

I can deal with slowly, and I'll see how far he's willing to come down on the price. No rush, there are others out there.

Thanks again for all the help, and I hope to be one of you guys in the not-so-distant future.
Cheers.
Brian.
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Old 07-08-2018, 09:55 PM   #10
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Seems dirt cheap to me. Have you priced the cost to add just a penthouse lately?
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