By on December 20, 2013

11 -1976 Dodge Tradesman Van Down On The Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee MartinThe Dodge Tradesman cargo van of the 1970s was quite popular among customizers back in the days of 20% annual inflation and talk-box guitar solos, as we saw with this ’72 Tradesman Junkyard Find last year. In the very same San Francisco Bay Area wrecking yard, here’s a Slant-6 Tradesman that doesn’t quite qualify as a custom van— not with just tinted glass and aftermarket wheels— but is still a nice time capsule.
05 -1976 Dodge Tradesman Van Down On The Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee MartinChrysler kept the same basic design for its truck HVAC controls for nearly 20 years; my 1966 Dodge A100 has nearly identical cable-operated controls.
03 -1976 Dodge Tradesman Van Down On The Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee MartinSlant-6 engine, 3-on-the-tree. Not very quick, but about as reliable as you could get in the 1970s.
17 -1976 Dodge Tradesman Van Down On The Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee MartinYou don’t see many of these vans with the single rear door option.
08 -1976 Dodge Tradesman Van Down On The Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee MartinJust a plain steel box with the base engine, but it kept going for nearly 40 years.

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23 Comments on “Junkyard Find: 1976 Dodge Tradesman Van...”


  • avatar
    Halftruth

    Work on it while you drive it! How’s that for reliability?

  • avatar
    danio3834

    IMO these were the best looking vans of the custom era. The ambulance that Brock Yates and Hal Needham used to race the Cannonball Run definitely added to the cool factor.

  • avatar
    ronhawk62

    The local Dodge store sold these stripped down vans with slotted chrome wheels by the truck loads. My neighbor had a green one with shag carpet and pine panel walls. It was a rolling party, with an air mattress and cooler full of beer.

  • avatar
    grzydj

    “No Lock” is a great name for a band, plus somebody has already painted it on the side. Also, those Hurricane wheels look fantastic.

  • avatar
    scottcom36

    It also has chrome bumpers, bright windshield trim and the upgraded horn button. The standard horn button was round and pot metal, and I’d absent-mindedly twist it on and off while driving.

  • avatar
    NoGoYo

    I love those 70s aftermarket wheels, especially the American Racing Vectors used on the General Lee and A-Team Van, but I don’t think you can even buy those any more. Then again, people find them for General Lee clones, so maybe you can still get Vectors.

  • avatar
    cdotson

    Those wheels weren’t aftermarket, but likely weren’t stock on that van. Those are Mopar “turbine” alloy wheels likely from an early 80s van or truck. One of my high school teachers in the 90s had an early 80s Ramcharger with those wheels.

    • 0 avatar
      Scoutdude

      No those are Western brand aftermarket wheels, yes Mopar did make a copy but the uni-lug marks them as aftermarket all the way. The OE wheels also used standard acorn lug nuts not “mag” style nuts.

  • avatar
    econobiker

    At this point the vehicle was pretty much configured for the rest of the run (except for a minor front end bump out).

    Anyone know if the full width rear door was an option for that era? I figure it was since the full width door was still an option in 1996 when a relative ordered one of these vans.

    Funny though about the full width door in the rear (easier to see through in the rear view mirror) yet two swing doors on the side versus the side sliding door which took up less room in use.

  • avatar
    fredtal

    We had a V8 version of this box and I don’t remember it being that fast. What I do remember is we could fit more folks in it that a VW bus (which all my hippie friends liked), still tow a boat to the lake AND go the speed limit.

  • avatar
    Carlson Fan

    A college buddy had a late 70′s short wheel base version of one of these w/slant 6 & 3 on the tree. His had windows on the rear and side cargo doors. Plenty of get up and go compared to everything else on the road at the time. Interior was mostly finished off w/orange shag carpeting. For moving during college you couldn’t beat a fullsize van.

  • avatar
    CAMeyer

    This poor van. While many thousands of its brothers hosted parking lot parties, sexcapades, and trips to Outlaws or Doobie Brothers shows at the Area Civic Auditorium, this guy apparently spent its life hauling plumbing supplies or something. Life is unfair, even for motor vehicles.

  • avatar
    chicagoland

    Van was produced from 1970 to 2003,about 33 years. Someone that age wouldn’t like being called ‘almost 40′. LOL!

    • 0 avatar
      Lorenzo

      Middle age now begins at 55, to hear boomers tell it, so 40 is the new 25. Except for teens, who haven’t quite grasped the concept of time yet. I heard about an 18 year old who was the envy of her peers because she was dating a mature, “older man”. He was 29.

  • avatar
    87 Morgan

    My dad was a mopar van kind of guy. Granted ours were passenger vans with windows. He had a 73, 77, & 87. The 87′ is where things got cool. He had ‘made it’ in life so he special ordered a dodge 250 with a 318 with a 4 speed manual trans on the floor. I sometimes think this van was a one of one. The thing hauled the mail, could do burnouts for miles. My pop was devastated when my little bro drove it into a telephone pole on ice. He was pissed because the next days commute to work would have surely rolled the odo for the 2nd time. He had never taken a car 200k.

    For all of the talk about poor mopar quality in the 80′s, which I believe is largely true this van was bullet proof and frankly was the energizer bunny until the end.

  • avatar
    peterj

    those rims are kinda awesome. a little elbow grease, i’d put them on my tacoma

  • avatar
    -Nate

    The floors tell the story in old vans ~ no plumbing was hauled in this one .

    These vans were very good yes but they had their dangerous quirks : the steering idlers (they had two) would rip loose from the frame without warning .

    We bought a ’79 Plymouth Voyager clone from Cal Trans , it was a special ordered 3/4 tom long frame with full interior , rows and rows of seats , rear AC , a 360 and 727 slushbox tranny ~ it ran for decades , always breezed through Ca. smog tests and eventually Jason had to seriously monkey with the smog devices to force it to fail so he got $1,500 for it , being a ” passenger vehicle ” in the Ca. vehicle retirement program .

    What a shame but by them it was badly dented up all ’round .

    When my Son was 12 he announced ” look Pop , another RAPER VAN ! ” as one rolled by .

    A Friend special ordered the long body passenger version in 1985 , slant six engine and four speed manual with 4′ long stick shift ~ it went plenty fast fully loaded with bodies on the freeway .

    I’m waiting to see what Crabspirits does with this one .

    -Nate


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