The Unofficial Dodge Town Wagon and Panel Page


1964 Dodge Town Wagon (Angle View)



Update 2000:

Well, as much as I hate to say it, I have left the Townwagon fold. The good news is that my truck went to a hard core Townwagon family, and hopefully it is on the road as we speak. (Here it is on the trailer ready for the ride to it's new home)

I have also stayed in the family with it's replacement, a Pinzgauer. So what's the linkage between a weird Austrian made Swiss equivalant to the hummer? Well, it's made by Steyr-Daimler-Puch. Daimler as in Daimler-Benz, as in Daimler-Chrysler. So I stayed in the family, in a manner of speaking!

So why did I make the change? Well, with kids, a farm, and a job, I had no time to complete the Townwagon or Dart projects. The Pinz was running and driving, and is a blast to play with. It is also semi-practical, and we use it around the farm as a utility vehicle. And as a 4wd, it is incredible!

I still love the TW's, and will continue to follow them. If I found a running, driving, mostly restored 4wd, I might have to get it, as I still love the look. 

For now, however, I would ask that you address any Town Wagon and Panel questions to the mailing list. It can be found at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/tw-list. Currently I am not in a position to respond to direct emails about the trucks, but the mailing list is a far better resource. You will need to join to participate, but it is free, and the best experts on TW's and TP's are there on a daily basis discussing the in's and out's of their favorite trucks.


Town Wagon and Parts for sale:

As I have sold my last TW/TP, some of my carefully hoarded parts stash is now available here. Other than these items, I am pretty much out of the TW/TP parts business. If you need something else I would suggest posting it to the mailing list.


OK, enough about me.... here's the original web page. This was one of the 1st TownWagon and Panel resources on the web, so I am leaving it here for historical (hysterical?) purposes. 


Town Wagon and Panel Mailing List:

There is also an well developed mailing list with about over a hundred Town Wagon and Panel owners. We discuss common problems, project status, etc. 

The original mailing list has become part of the yahoo groups system, which means you can access the group via web or mail, and there are also other features like databases, files, etc. The tw-list can be found at the following link:

Note: The group is intended for discussion about Dodge Trucks and Town Wagons and Panels specifically, so please do not sent commercial solicitations! (Unless you really think they would interest a bunch of old truck owners!)


Introduction:

Built on Dodge truck chassis, this vehicle was a competitor to the new Chevy "Suburban Carryall". The photo above is my truck, before I bought it in Phoenix. They were available as 6 or 8 passenger "wagons" or 2 passenger "panel" trucks. (The wagons are sometimes referred to as "windowed panels") They could be ordered in 2wd (D100-300), or 4wd (W100,W200, W300) models through the entire production run.

This was a low volume vehicle for Dodge. Production appear to be just a few hundred wagons a year, as far as I can tell. Accordingly, the Dodge wagons retained the '58 look till they were discontinued in '66. Dodge did roll in the new frame and running gear when the redesigned the pickups for 1961. This makes for an interesting combination: the 50's "fat fender" look of separate hood and fender lines combined with some of the major engineering advances of the early '60's (Overhead valve engines, 12 volt electrical, Alternators, suspended pedals, Dual Master Cylinder Brakes, etc). The pickup models from Dodge, Ford, and GM all changed to the very boxy, flat nosed modern pickup design in the 60's. Ford had no large volume wagon, and the Chevy/GM suburban went to the "new" 60's styling. Which leave the Dodge Town-Wagon and Town-Panel as the last wagons with the 50's styling.

The trucks also shared styling and name with the traditional "Power Wagon" as well. The traditional Dodge Power Wagon retained it's styling almost from inception to retirement). Given the success of the new (Old?) style of the current Dodge Ram trucks, Dodge may have been ahead of it's time!


My Town Wagon Projects:

My Town Wagon interest actually started with a search for a 56-59 vintage GM 4wd Suburban. I quickly discovered there were very few left around in 2wd, much less in 4wd. The few I located were very expensive, and usually 2wd. Since I really wanted the 50's "fat fender" look with separate hood and fender lines. I was stuck. Then I saw the Town-Wagon listed in the "Standard Catalog of Four Wheel Drives". It had the 50's look, as well as some "Power Wagon" influence. Having been a big fan of the original Power Wagon, the look was just what I was looking for. But where do I find one? This question took care of itself.


1961 D-100 Town Wagon:

The Saga Begins:

How do you decide you want a Town Wagon? You Don't! They find you! My search for an old wagon started in winter of '94. I had concluded that I would not find a suitable Suburban, and was a bit discouraged. A business trip to Knoxville provided a perfect opportunity to travel though some serious old truck territory: North West Georgia and South East Tennessee. While passing through Chatsworth GA, I spotted what I thought was a Suburban from the road. When I investigated, I saw it was a Dodge, and was initially disappointed. But the more I looked, the more I liked. The Town Wagon had some key advantages for what I had in mind:

I stress test my marriage:

Bottom line.... the Town Wagon looked like it would be a pretty good bet. I returned from my trip with the intention of buying it. My wife had severe reservations.... we were on a pretty tight budget, and she did not think I should start new project of this nature. But she gave in, as she new it was something I really wanted to do. So I scrounge up $500 the next day, drive back up to Chatsworth, and made an offer to the dealer. He relented, sold me the truck, and I drove it back to Atlanta. (and was late to my wife's birthday party in the process.... Ouch!!!).

Needless to say, my wife was not impressed! The truck needed massive body work, had a cheap wooden house panel interior complemented with velour headliner. Ugh! However, like most old Dodges, it refused to die, and I drove it to work for a week or two before starting lots of cut and weld type repairs.

My goal for this vehicle is to retain the 50's look while moving to a modern running 4wd running gear. I had located a '74 Ramcharger with a working 318, A/T and 4wd running gear. I traded a lawnmower for it, and used the Town Wagon and a dolly to get it home. (This is a story in itself. The Ramcharger was missing a Master Cylinder, and I had not one, but two separate roller-coaster rides down hills at night trying to move it around without brakes! The last ride ended up with me choosing between rolling into the creek in my back yard, hitting a neighbor's fence, or slamming into a large oak at my property line. I hit the Oak, after dodging several other trees in the dark)

Rust, Cutting, and Welding:

I knew the body work would be tough on the Town Wagon. I made myself promise that I would do the body work first before starting on the "fun" 4wd changes. The floorboards and body mounts were the worst problem. I would never be able to enjoy the truck with my feet dangling out the bottom! Time for some serious metal work. No bondo or pop rivets for me! I borrowed, and eventually bought a small MIG welder, and the repairs started. I made some progress on the floorboards, but it was obvious it would be a long haul. Doors were probably the most critical problem, as these were pretty rusted.

"All I want is some Doors!":

Progress was slow, and doors were very hard to find. I had lot's of time to plan, and it was pretty clear that 4wd drive conversion was not going to be a big issue, nor would engine swaps if needed. (The slant six ran fine, but I really wanted a V-8) Where can I get doors? I was stumped. And then came the business trip to Phoenix!

Junkyard Mecca:

If you have never been there, Phoenix is junkyard Mecca! The best sheet-metal available to me in GA would be considered rusted beyond use in AZ. I hit the yards on Broadway, and found several pickups with usable doors, and even an entire cab I could scavenge. I had no way to ship the cab, but doors and "step-wells" were loaded into the rental car. I found someone to ship them to Atlanta, and I had solved one of my problems.

While searching the yards, I found one that had a '64 Town wagon that was pretty much rust free. It had the 318 V-8, a 4 speed, and 3/4 ton 2wd running gear. The owner was willing to sell it, but was was way out of my budget. But I filed it away for future reference.


1964 Dodge Town Wagon (Front View)

1964 D-100 Town Wagon: "An offer I cannot refuse":

Shift forward about 12 months. It was clear the sheet metal work on the '61 would take forever. The '64 in Phoenix was about 3 years of work ahead of my '61. My wife made me a deal I could not refuse: "Sell or trade the '61 to get it out of the garage, and you can buy the '64".

So I did.... and the story of the drive from Phoenix to Atlanta in a 32 yr old truck is documented elsewhere. Faithful coworker and fellow motor-head John Macaulay helped me drive it as far as Dallas, and has helped many times since. Now I had two trucks! After some wheeling and dealing, the '61 was traded for an 318 V-8 engine and various restoration parts for my '63 Dart GT Convertible.


Engine:

When I bought the '64, it had the original "poly" 318 V-8 with a 4 speed. Since the original engine had a severe blow by problem in one cylinder, and jumped time on the drive from Phoenix to Atlanta, an engine swap was in order. I installed the modern (LA) 318 engine that I traded the '61 for. So far, it has been a pretty much bolt up proposition. The engine mounts were perfect as is. I had to get creative with bell housing mounts only because I tore one of the originals removing the engine. After some thought, I decided to retain the original 4 speed for now, but plan to substitute the A-727 A/T and NP-203 transfer case from the donor Ramcharger later. I have spent quite a bit of time on the used engine, including some detours with broken exhaust studs, etc. (Short version: "Easyout's aren't easy. You cannot drill a broken easyout! The MIG welder saved the day!) The engine was then installed, but I still had a few items left to do:

Now that these items are complete, I was in business.

The truck is running and driving now! Noisy, and geared too low with the 4.1 Dana 60 rear end, but it runs like a champ!

Once I was comfortable I would keep the new engine, I added the following as well:

Down the road, I hope to add these as well:

Running Gear:

Dodge was very consistent with their running gear, and used the same leaf spring/solid axle frame from '61 through '71. In fact, the same axles, springs, engine and transmission were used into the 80's, so it looks like conversion to modern engine and 4wd running gear will be a bolt up proposition. I plan on installing the Dana 44 4wd axle from the '78 Ramcharger to convert the Town Wagon to 4wd and disk brakes. (Retaining the existing Dana 60 rear axle) I will use the A-727 Automatic Transmission and NP-203 transfer case from the Ramcharger as well when I convert to 4wd. Long term, I would prefer an NP-205 or NP-208 xfer case to move away from full time 4wd, but I will deal with that later. This combination should be about as rugged a drivetrain as you can get outside of an original Power Wagon.

Suspension:

The '64's original 1/2 ton running gear had been replaced with 3/4 ton springs and axle from a later truck, which gives it a nice stance. The 3/4 ton springs on the '64 might be ok, but it looks like I can use several of the aftermarket replacement leaf springs for '60-80 Dodge trucks and Ramchargers. ( I am leaning toward Trailmaster for now) I do not really want to lift like a "Monster truck", so a 2" lift kit should retain the 3/4 ton look that I like.

 


Town Wagon References:


I have also compiled a list of reference materials that contain information on the Town Wagon and Panel.

Also you should check out Kris Wickstead's reference section from the '61-'71 Dodge Truck Website.


 

Other Town Wagon and Panel Owners:

Johnny Bitter- Town Wagon, NC

Johnny is one of the original TW-list members, and is certainly one of the most energetic. His mint green TW sees daily service in his business (Johnny Burrito). An ex Forest service truck, Johnny rescued this truck. drove it across the US, restored it, and it is a well known site around Charlotte. He recently drove a Powerwagon Bus home from Montana to keep it company.

 

tw_jb1.jpg (386222 bytes)

Roger King- Town Wagon, GA

Roger has a fleet, with one for his wife, and probably some spares. He also bought my '64 TW. This photo was at Thomson GA, but Roger and family drove this truck from GA to the Fairfield PW meet in Iowa. (You can see it in some of the photo's on the PW page) What a trip!

tw_rk1m.jpg (373961 bytes)

Eric Bannerman- Town Wagon, IL?

Eric is a long time list member. His page has lot's of detailed info on various models. (Photo from his site)

 

Town Wagons and Panels on the web:

Here is a list of other web sites with Town Wagons and Panels. Please let us know of any other sites you are aware of that would be of interest to other Town Wagon/Panel owners.


Other Useful Web Links:

Here is a short list of other web links that I have found to be useful:


Town Wagon and Panel Mailing List:

There is also an well developed mailing list with about over a hundred Town Wagon and Panel owners. We discuss common problems, project status, etc. 

The original mailing list has become part of the yahoo groups system, which means you can access the group via web or mail, and there are also other features like databases, files, etc. The tw-list can be found at the following link:

Note: The group is intended for discussion about Dodge Trucks and Town Wagons and Panels specifically, so please do not sent commercial solicitations! (Unless you really think they would interest a bunch of old truck owners!)

Let me know if you have ideas or comments in this area!

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