Home » Someone Made LEGO Instructions For An Extremely Obscure Dodge ‘Dreamer’ Pickup Camper (One Of Which Is Now For Sale For $3300)

Someone Made LEGO Instructions For An Extremely Obscure Dodge ‘Dreamer’ Pickup Camper (One Of Which Is Now For Sale For $3300)

Lego Dreams Ts
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Have you ever felt the pain of stepping on a LEGO barefoot? It’s awful — truly one of the worst feelings known to humankind. What about the feeling of finding a step-by-step instruction video on how to build an extremely obscure Dodge camper truck? Now that’s an indescribable feeling of pleasure, one I am enjoying right now.

My colleague David sent me this Marketplace posting of a strange Dodge Van RV camper thing. It’s called the Dodge Dreamer. From the front, it looks like a normal late-70s van with old-school glass sealed-beam headlamps and lots of blocks, squares, and rectangles in the design. But the rest of the “van” behind the B-pillars reveals a surprise: It’s part-van, part-pickup, and part sleeper-cab, with a set-up for fifth-wheeling/trailer-towing. Check this thing out:

Vidframe Min Top
Vidframe Min Bottom
Product photo of 1979 Dodge Ram 3500
Larry Peterson- Facebook
Screen Shot 2023 04 29 At 1.34.30 Pm
Larry Peterson- Facebook
Screen Shot 2023 04 29 At 1.34.00 Pm
Larry Peterson- Facebook

Theoretically, you could tow a horse trailer around Arizona, sleep in the conversion bench bed behind the first row, and then hop on your horse and do, I don’t know, cowboy things. These Dreamers came with the 440 MOPAR engine mated to a “760” automatic transmission, per the seller, though I’m not sure what a 760 is; if I had to guess, there’s some Chrysler 727 variant doing the gear-changing, here.

Screen Shot 2023 04 29 At 1.36.03 Pm

The Dreamer was produced in 1978 and 1979 on the 3500 van chassis. Apparently only 100 of these one-ton monstrosities were made, with much of it apparently having been hand-built (it appears to be made largely of fiberglass). There are two separate fuel sources; a 60-gallon gasoline tank and a 98-gallon propane tank. There is also a holding tank for water to be used for drinking and bathing.

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Product photo of 1979 Dodge Ram 3500
Larry Peterson- Facebook

These trucks used to retail for a staggering $50,000 in 1978, which is about $231,000 in today’s value. This one here is for sale for $3,500 — talk about depreciation!

Product photo of 1979 Dodge Ram 3500
Larry Peterson- Facebook

What’s wild is that this bizarre type of vehicle is far more common than you think. It wasn’t just the Dodge Dreamer that tacked a sleeper-cab behind the first row of an existing van’s front row, and then threw on a giant bed behind that; there was also the beloved Ford Centurion:

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Image: Charles Guan
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Image purchased from killboy.com
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Image purchased from killboy.com

The two Centurions you see above belong to Autopian contributor Charles Guan. He’s one of the world’s foremost Centurion experts, owning multiple and knowing far more about them than any human should.

Centurion Ad

In one of his articles, he mentions that it wasn’t just Centurion (see brochure above) who made such modifications to Ford vans — there was another company named Cabriolet. Check it out:

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Ford Made What?!? E350 Centurion & Cabriolet Dually - Ford-Trucks.com

Cabriolet Ad

Anyway, this odd vehicle setup is not even the most obscure part of this whole story. What is is a step-by-step instructional YouTube video that describes how to build your own Dodge Dreamer van out of LEGOs. No, I’m not joking.

In fact, there’s an entire subculture of adults who build cars out of Legos, referred to as “adult fans of LEGOs” or AFOL. These individuals use software tools, like bricklink, to design their own personal vehicles brick by brick, creating a template to be replicated. These “kits” like the one shown below, allow precise LEGO renditions of their favorite cars. Additionally, there are other designers who take requests for both vehicle instructions and models for just about any car. Renbricks, who created the instructions for the Dreamer, also replicated a Lincoln Town Car:

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Renbricks

Here’s the bricklist for the Dodge Dreamer:

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Screen Shot 2023 04 29 At 4.17.22 Pm
Renbricks

Yes, a  van whose overall production only ever reached 100 has a tutorial! I, of course, had to watch it, and was impressed by how accurate it is given that it’s homemade from already-existing LEGO parts. The builder even states you can actually connect a LEGO trailer to your LEGO Dreamer and tow away!

Real-life Dreamers do happen to be duallies, the LEGO one is not, but other than that, I think this is fantastic:

The video, from 2019, has over 1,300 views which is shocking in so many different ways. How many people know about these Dreamers? Second, who’s building them out of Legos? Third of all, I want it. Both the full-size version and the LEGO.

This “real-life” Dreamer is for sale out in Vernon, Arizona, the rust-free land where I would expect something like this to reside. The seller posted this Dreamer just yesterday, so scoop it up for $3,300 before one of us gets to it. Also, head downstairs to your mother’s basement and find that old box of LEGOS, grab your computer, head into the backseat of your Dreamer, and start building away!

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[Update (April 30, 2023 9:20 P.M. ET): This post initially stated that the Dreamer was built to promote the 3500 Dodge Van. This is unlikely, and has been removed. -DT]. 

 

 

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Ben
Ben
1 year ago

98-gallon propane tank.

Are you sure? By my math that’s around 400 lbs of propane, which including the tank would be in the 600 lb range. That’s about 20 of the more common 20 lb propane tanks that you use for your grill. Insane quantities aside, I’m not sure where you’d put a propane tank that large. The only place I could see it fitting is behind the seats in the cab, and that’s a rather unlikely and unwise place to put a propane tank.

Crank Shaft
Crank Shaft
1 year ago

Hi Rob! I hope you week and your studies have been going well. However, if you’re as busy as my son is with his, then you have my sympathies.

What an awesome post. What’s weird for me is that somehow I never saw one of these IRL. We visited 43 states in our camper when I was a kid, but that must have ended just before these came out and somehow I missed them while otherwise admiring the big skies, horses, open vistas, flags (USA!), dragons, eagles, etc. of the murals that were a HUGE part of the custom van scene in the seventies. Shag carpet, infinity lights, coaxial 6x9s. Ahhh, those were days (not necessarily the days, but days).

Last edited 1 year ago by Crank Shaft
Nlpnt
Nlpnt
1 year ago

Are you sure about the “promotional item for the normal vans” thing? Because if this was commissioned by Dodge, the would NOT be using the GM-looking fenders over the dual rear wheels nor the actual GM pickup taillights that are clearly present here.

beachbumberry
beachbumberry
1 year ago
Reply to  Nlpnt

That was exactly what I thought

David Tracy
David Tracy
1 year ago
Reply to  beachbumberry

Agreed. I don’t think this is accurate, so I’ve removed it.

Professor Chorls
Professor Chorls
1 year ago
Reply to  David Tracy

It’s more likely it was a “promotional item” for the builder, which should have been Travel Industries.

Professor Chorls
Professor Chorls
1 year ago

That’s an amazing price for a Dreamer in such well-preserved body condition.

Jakob K's Garage
Jakob K's Garage
1 year ago

Not much fun to the 1:1 sized one without the camper trailer.

DubblewhopperInDubblejeopardy
DubblewhopperInDubblejeopardy
1 year ago

Oh man, I’m dreaming of shag carpeting, disco balls, a good 8-arm hooka with a bowl that can hold an ounce or 2 and a 20 speaker Dynaudio sound system with an Alpine head unit playing Black Sabbath’s Master of Reality.

Crank Shaft
Crank Shaft
1 year ago

Colombian Gold! Or more often, just brown Mexican ditch weed that took a full ounce to really enjoy.

Palmetto Ranger
Palmetto Ranger
1 year ago

Am I the only one concerned by the dark red stains on that bit of carpet they laid down in the back? If the remnant resting on top looks like that, I do not want to know what horror waits underneath.

MH7
MH7
1 year ago

For those that aren’t aware, Killboy is one of the groups that takes action shots on the tail of the dragon. Charles bought two old one ton ford vans, drug both to East Tennessee, and flogged them on one of the most famous roads in the country. Respect

Professor Chorls
Professor Chorls
1 year ago
Reply to  MH7

I have a habit of using that place as a proving ground for repairs. If I flub any steering, brakes, suspension, transmission, cooling, or engine work… I’ll probably find out right there.

MrLM002
MrLM002
1 year ago

Question: Would there be any advantage to lightweight 5th wheel trailers?

For me the only real use cases I have for a short bed pickup are as a flatbed, chassis cab, or as a dedicated tow rig.

From what I’ve read a 5th wheel trailer hitch can effectively increase your towing capacity by up to 50%

Professor Chorls
Professor Chorls
1 year ago
Reply to  MrLM002

They do, because the weight is borne directly over the rear axle and not several feet behind it. There’s effectly no “seesaw” effect which would otherwise limit your tongue weight because otherwise your front wheels get too floaty.

Inthemikelane
Inthemikelane
1 year ago

When my step kids were little, we bought a Ford high top van to go tent camping with. When the grew and the four of us were getting crowded in it, I looked at a Centurion and a 5th wheel trailer. The Centurion was so nice and would have been perfect if it weren’t for the price, we just couldn’t afford it, when a truck made into a 5th wheel was so much cheaper. But damn, I wanted it for all the functional space and the whole setup. Wish they would make something like this again.

Andy Individual
Andy Individual
1 year ago

I love those huge side windows. You can actually check out all the puppies and candy on offer inside.

On a side note, Dreamer would be a great name for a full size SUV in this era of distracted drivers.

CSRoad
CSRoad
1 year ago

$3,300 is serious LEGO money.
The GM tail light guy from the lounge is going to say something about this for sure.

Last edited 1 year ago by CSRoad
Andy Individual
Andy Individual
1 year ago
Reply to  CSRoad

Heck, this is Meccano money!

Eric Busch
Eric Busch
1 year ago
Reply to  CSRoad

That’s how I read the headline too.

Phantom Pedal Syndrome
Phantom Pedal Syndrome
1 year ago

$3,300?
That’s jukebox money for that thing.
Depending on what you’re towing, I bet you could seat about twenty people comfortably.

Brian Michael
Brian Michael
1 year ago

I’ve been working on John Steinbeck’s GMC.

https://photos.app.goo.gl/JKEDk5ymqNw9V4Xm6

Andy Individual
Andy Individual
1 year ago
Reply to  Brian Michael

Needs more coffin.

TOSSABL
TOSSABL
1 year ago
Reply to  Brian Michael

That’s awesome, ND4SPD!
Travels With Charley has been a favorite of mine for decades. The minor melancholic tone of the book made much more sense when I learned some 20 years back that he had a terminal cancer diagnoses before he set out.
-always liked his method of doing laundry on the road: garbage can full of water, soap, and clothes bungeed so as to agitate around while he was driving.

Marc Fuhrman
Marc Fuhrman
1 year ago

A ’79 Dodge with a 440? The Chrysler big block V8 went out of production in August of ’78. So either it’s had an engine swap at some point, or it’s one of the handful of early production ’79 vans. What ever the case, this would be one rare van-truck!

Bucko
Bucko
1 year ago
Reply to  Marc Fuhrman

If the vehicle was based on a cutaway chassis, I think the 440 was sold until the demise of the cutaway vans in 1980. Don’t quote me on this.

Archaic engines seemed to live on in Chrysler commercial chassis long past their expiration date. Growing up, my family had a 5-mpg 1973 Winnebago. It had the long-deceased 413 (6.8L) wedge in it. Apparently, this POS engine was produced until 1979 for some applications, despite being discontinued from the car line-up in the mid 60’s Chrysler was not the only domestic manufacturer to do this.

Rust Buckets
Rust Buckets
1 year ago
Reply to  Bucko

Yeah, not just Chrysler, and not just in the 70s. E series chassis cabs kept the triton v10 for like a decade after they stopped putting them in pickups.

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