Tag: Custom Van

By on January 1, 2014

QOTD-GreenVanAs of 12:01 AM Mountain Time on Wednesday, the first legal, open-to-the-general public cannabis shops in the United States may start selling their wares. In my Denver neighborhood, the dispensary next door to the first Chipotle restaurant opens for business at 10:00 AM, and I’m trying to guess what kind of car, truck, or other vehicle will be the first to screech to a smoky halt at this establishment’s front door. Actually, the loadiest stoners aren’t exactly conscious of, like, the clock, man, so this vehicle will probably show up on Friday at about 11:38 PM, and then the occupants will forget why they were there in the first place and go find a 7-11 to buy some Twin Bings… but for the purposes of discussion we’re going to say 10:00 AM on the dot, stoniest motor vehicle. What is it? (Read More…)

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. (Read More…)

By on August 31, 2013

11 - 1987 Toyota Master Ace Conversion Van Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe last time we saw a Toyota Master Ace Junkyard Find was when I discovered this super-elaborate ’85 Space Van art car in Northrn California last year. I’ve always admired these mid-engined machines, with their unkillable pushrod fours and goofy Mars Base looks. Here’s one I spotted in a Denver wrecking yard a couple weeks back. (Read More…)

By on May 10, 2013

02 - Custom Dodge A100 pickup - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinOf all the racing venues I visit during my travels as Chief Justice of the 24 Hours of LeMons Supreme Court, the ritzy clubs tend to be the weirdest. We went to the Monticello Motor Club in New York a few weeks back, and twice a year the LeMons Traveling Circus rolls into the Autobahn Country Club in Illinois. The reaction of the members, who must navigate the madness of the LeMons pit scene as they drive their GT3s and Facel-Vegas to the clubhouse, runs the gamut from loathing to delight. Most of the time I ignore these guys— I always feel like we’re caddies in the pool in that setting— but as the owner of an A100 I just had to talk to the owner of this truck that showed up at the 2012 Showroom-Schlock Shootout. (Read More…)

By on November 23, 2012

I usually don’t pay much attention to VW Transporters in the junkyard, but I have a friend with a Vanagon (he’s an industrial designer and decided that this VW— which I believe to be one of the worst motor vehicles ever built— says positive things about his sense of style and appreciation of good design) who needed a bunch of parts for his hopeless project van. So, when I found this ’83 at a Denver self-service wrecking yard, I grabbed a few bits and took some photos. (Read More…)

By on September 28, 2012

In the ’72 Dodge Tradesman Junkyard Find earlier this week, I referred to the iconic custom-van airbrush mural with “jousting knights battling Aztec kings in a zebra herd at the Mars Base.” All of those elements were seen on the flanks of plenty of Chevy Vans and Econolines back in the 1970s (though you didn’t often see more than one per mural), and— now that we’ve got the benefit of nearly 40 years of hindsight— we can think about what could be done today with the art form of the custom van. (Read More…)

By on September 26, 2012

Once the Detroit Big Three went to front-engined/snout-equipped cargo vans in the late 1960s and early 1970s, replacing the dangerous yet highly-maneuverable-in-alleyways forward-control/flat-nose vans that came before, those vans became much more practical for freeway driving (and family transportation). I still see plenty of 40-year-old Econolines, Beauvilles, and Tradesmen in junkyards these days, since these vans are so useful that most of them get flogged until they drop dead, but it (usually) takes one with some mid-70s-style customizing touches to make me break out the camera. (Read More…)

By on August 24, 2012

I still haven’t gotten around to building my 1/25 scale Billy Carter Redneck Power Pickup kit, but that won’t stop me from adding more projects to my “get to it someday” collection… which I’m about to do, now that TTAC reader Neb has pulled my coat about the huge lineup of 1960s and 1970s plastic model kits being made from the original tooling by Round2 Models. (Read More…)

By on March 6, 2012

Like the Fiat 124 Sport Spider, your typical second-gen VW Transporter typically spends many years as a never-started project in a back yard or driveway (because everyone loves an air-cooled VW bus!), then washes ashore at a junkyard. I’ve been seeing these vans in about the same numbers in junkyards for a couple of decades now, even as only the nicest street-driven examples have been kept alive. Here’s a ’78 with some extremely Malaise-y custom touches that I spotted in a Colorado yard last week. (Read More…)

By on February 17, 2012

My 1966 Dodge A100 Hell Project has been in semi-hibernation since the summer, but now it has a rebuilt front end and I’m ready to get back into turning it into the 8-track-equipped custom van of my dreams. Since I bought my van project, the toughest problem has been finding junked A100s to provide a bunch of bits and pieces needed to get everything working properly. Alex Kierstein of Hooniverse grabbed a window latch from a Seattle junkyard and shipped it to me, which was a big help, but my van still had some bad glass and an annoying assortment of missing pieces. Then, last week, I got word that an A100 had appeared in a self-service yard a few miles from my house. (Read More…)

By on November 24, 2011

I’m back in California to visit the family, which means I also get to visit my favorite East Bay self-service junkyards. I was hoping to find a Dodge A100 to donate some parts for my A100 Hell Project; instead, I found this Econoline to serve as possible customizing inspiration. (Read More…)

By on July 21, 2011


It just does my heart good to see a suburban Denver neighborhood in which there’s no meddlesome HOA to tell a man he can’t have a vintage customized Econoline on the street and a Mustang drag racer in the driveway. (Read More…)

By on June 30, 2011


The thing about my ’66 Dodge A100 van project that makes it a challenge is that I’m going for an early 1970s customization job, not the far easier late 1970s routine. My van won’t have Aztecs On Mars airbrush murals or a wood-burning stove (not that there’s anything wrong with those things), but it does have a telephone-handset-style 23-channel CB radio, (faux) Cragar S/S wheels, and now it has a Watergate-burglary-era cheap aftermarket tachometer. (Read More…)

By on April 7, 2011


As the 1966 Dodge A100 Hell Project progresses (slowly), I’m finally at the point at which T-shirts and towels draped over the trashed seats— nuked by over a decade of outdoor storage in the Colorado sun— no longer cut it. It’s time to fix ‘em up! (Read More…)

By on April 6, 2011


Going to the wrecking yard on a grim, rainy day somehow makes all the junked custom vans seem even more depressing than usual. How much work went into that mural? (Read More…)

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