Package Deal

Old Cars Weekly archive – September 25, 2008 issue

Swapping in a matched Dodge truck and Del Rey camper

Story and photos by John Gunnell

Driving to Iola 2008 in this 1966 Dodge Camper Special was like a trip back to the past for Dan McQuaid (right) and his co-pilot.

 

Dan McQuaid and his buddy drove to the 2008 Iola Old Car Show with a 1966 Del Rey. This isn’t to be confused with a ’56 Chevy Del Ray; Instead, we’re referring to a slide-in camper unit mounted on a 1966 Dodge 3/4-ton pickup.

The truck has the factory Camper Special package with a 318-cid, 200-hp V-8, a four-speed floor shift and a heavy-duty suspension. Its Daffodil Yellow paint is the truck’s original finish. If the truck looks just like new, that’s because it has only 20,800 original miles.

The interiors of Del Rey campers were available in five color choices: avocado, champagne, yellow, red or turquoise. The interior of McQuaid’s camper is turquoise.

 

Mounted in the truck’s bed is a near-perfect 1966 Del Rey Imperial Series truck camper that’s also near perfect. This is a very deluxe unit for that era and cost $2,600 when it was new. It was built by a company from Elkhart, Ind., and features a gas stove, icebox, furnace, birch wood cabinetry and a functional camp toilet.

The most interesting styling motif of the camper is its “Skylounge” upper deck with a tinted picture window above the cab of the Dodge. This particular unit features a turquoise, color-coordinated interior — one of five colors available. More than 30 standard equipment items, from a ladies’ vanity to a city water hook-up system, were included.

The ’66 Dodge pickup has a very plain dashboard and a floor-mounted four-speed manual gear shifter.

 

McQuaid picked up a number of period accessories to dress up the camper’s interior, such as an old fan, a Kodak Pony 135 Model B camera and an old glass Hire’s Root Beer bottle. He has also decorated the camper with decals from 1960s drag racing events to make it look like a racing enthusiast’s rig.

McQuaid first heard about the truck and camper around 2004, when the original owner of the two units passed away. He tried to purchase them at that time and had just about concluded a deal with the man’s widow when her daughter decided that it would be best to keep her father’s prized possessions. So, it wasn’t until April 2008 that McQuaid was able to make a deal and extract the truck and camper from the barn in Ishpeming, Mich., where they were stored.

The Dodge and the Del Rey Imperial were stored in separate barns and the camper had not been taken out of storage for 38 years. To make the extraction, McQuaid and a few of his friends had to cut down trees that had grown up in front of the barn.

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