The Truth About Cars » Custom Van http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Sun, 19 Oct 2014 11:58:25 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.0 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars editors@ttac.com editors@ttac.com (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » Custom Van http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com Junkyard Find: 1979 Dodge B200 Landmark Van Conversion http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/junkyard-find-1979-dodge-b200-landmark-van-conversion/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/junkyard-find-1979-dodge-b200-landmark-van-conversion/#comments Mon, 18 Aug 2014 13:00:26 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=889482 Are you a member of the Brown Car Appreciation Society? A fan of the Malaise Era and maybe bad music of the late 1970s? If so, then today’s Junkyard Find is for you! I spotted this brown-on-brown-on-brown van conversion at my local self-serve wrecking yard a full year ago, and I’ve been waiting for just […]

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13 - 1979 Dodge Landmark Van Conversion Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinAre you a member of the Brown Car Appreciation Society? A fan of the Malaise Era and maybe bad music of the late 1970s? If so, then today’s Junkyard Find is for you! I spotted this brown-on-brown-on-brown van conversion at my local self-serve wrecking yard a full year ago, and I’ve been waiting for just the right time to share it with you!
16 - 1979 Dodge Landmark Van Conversion Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThis is a second-generation Tradesman, turned into a luxury crypto-RV by the (apparently) defunct Landmark Vans company, which must have been based somewhere in the Midwest.
10 - 1979 Dodge Landmark Van Conversion Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinIt’s pretty well beat-up by now, but you can still catch the sense of luxury that must have prevailed in this interior, when Ace Frehley’s greatest hit was coming from the 8-track.
07 - 1979 Dodge Landmark Van Conversion Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinCan you get browner than this? Nope.
01 - 1979 Dodge Landmark Van Conversion Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThere’s some rust, sure, but nothing serious (at first glance).
03 - 1979 Dodge Landmark Van Conversion Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThese conversion vans weren’t aimed at the demographic that built matching bongs for their chopped-and-pinstriped Econolines and A100s; most of these vehicles were purchased by big families for road trips.

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Question: What Is the Stoniest Moter Vehicle of All Time? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/01/question-what-is-the-stoniest-moter-vehicle-of-all-time/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/01/question-what-is-the-stoniest-moter-vehicle-of-all-time/#comments Wed, 01 Jan 2014 05:01:57 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=689090 As 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 […]

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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?
69BlueBeetle_RearThe good old Type 1 Beetle (and its Transporter cousin) scores pretty high on the TCH-O-Meter, though you don’t see many of them these days. Hippies back in the old days liked air-cooled Volkswagens because they’ll run like crap better than any other car, which means that you can space out on maintenance for years and still drive; the air-cooled Volks is the only four-stroke four-cylinder engine I’ve ever seen that will run on one cylinder. There’s no water to boil over, no complicated controls to confuse the driver.
85_Tercel_Emblem_LHThe 1983-86 Toyota Tercel 4WD wagon is a favorite of Denver/Boulder wastoids, and it’s also quite popular in the redwood country of California. Reliable, room for all your loser friends and their snowboards, friendly-looking, capable of chugging through fairly serious snow.
64ImpalaConvert-01The 1961-64 Chevy Impala makes this list, because Cheech drove one in Up In Smoke.
IMG_1270My vote, however, goes to any vintage scooter. One look at a group of scooter freaks and you can tell they’re smoking some stuff that would make even Willie Nelson freak out. What’s your choice for Stoniest Vehicle of All Time?

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Junkyard Find: 1976 Dodge Tradesman Van http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/12/junkyard-find-1976-dodge-tradesman-van/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/12/junkyard-find-1976-dodge-tradesman-van/#comments Fri, 20 Dec 2013 14:00:33 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=684786 The 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 […]

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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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Junkyard Find: 1987 Toyota Conversion Van http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/08/junkyard-find-1987-toyota-conversion-van/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/08/junkyard-find-1987-toyota-conversion-van/#comments Sat, 31 Aug 2013 13:00:12 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=504057 The 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 […]

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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.
01 - 1987 Toyota Master Ace Conversion Van Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThis is the first Toyota Master Ace I’ve seen with the full conversion-van treatment. With rear-wheel drive and the engine under the front seats, space is a bit limited in these things. Still, it was probably fairly nice back when it was new.
06 - 1987 Toyota Master Ace Conversion Van Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinJust 132,619 miles on the clock. Just getting broken in!
08 - 1987 Toyota Master Ace Conversion Van Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinYou’ll find one in every car, kid. You’ll see.
33 - Spirit of LeMons Racing Cessna - RaceWhen 24 Hours of LeMons legend Speedycop decided to turn a Cessna 310 into a road-race car, he used a Toyota Van chassis as the basis of the project. Short wheelbase, mid-engined, and reliable.

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Want To Impress The Swells At the Country Club? Hemi-fied Custom Dodge A100 Pickup! http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/05/want-to-impress-the-swells-at-the-country-club-hemi-fied-custom-dodge-a100-pickup/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/05/want-to-impress-the-swells-at-the-country-club-hemi-fied-custom-dodge-a100-pickup/#comments Fri, 10 May 2013 13:00:50 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=487909 Of 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 […]

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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.
07 - Custom Dodge A100 pickup - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinI didn’t get the guy’s name, but I recall that his passenger was a veteran of the 1949 Indianapolis 500.
03 - Custom Dodge A100 pickup - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinHe was on his way into the clubhouse, but told me to go ahead and open up whatever I wanted and shoot whatever photographs I felt like shooting. The bodywork was flawless, all the chrome was perfect, and the truck was full of custom touches like this aluminum instrument cluster.
04 - Custom Dodge A100 pickup - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinYes, that’s a modern 5.7 Hemi under the doghouse. There’s barely room for the LA-block 318 in my van, so I know some serious fabrication went into making this swap fit.
09 - Custom Dodge A100 pickup - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThis setup isn’t quite as extreme as the one in the Little Red Wagon, but it would take a very brave man to stand on this pickup’s throttle.

01 - Custom Dodge A100 pickup - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 02 - Custom Dodge A100 pickup - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 03 - Custom Dodge A100 pickup - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 04 - Custom Dodge A100 pickup - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 05 - Custom Dodge A100 pickup - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 06 - Custom Dodge A100 pickup - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 07 - Custom Dodge A100 pickup - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 08 - Custom Dodge A100 pickup - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 09 - Custom Dodge A100 pickup - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 10 - Custom Dodge A100 pickup - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 11 - Custom Dodge A100 pickup - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 12 - Custom Dodge A100 pickup - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 13 - Custom Dodge A100 pickup - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 14 - Custom Dodge A100 pickup - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 15 - Custom Dodge A100 pickup - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 16 - Custom Dodge A100 pickup - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 17 - Custom Dodge A100 pickup - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 18 - Custom Dodge A100 pickup - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 19 - Custom Dodge A100 pickup - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 20 - Custom Dodge A100 pickup - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 21 - Custom Dodge A100 pickup - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 22 - Custom Dodge A100 pickup - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 23 - Custom Dodge A100 pickup - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 24 - Custom Dodge A100 pickup - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 25 - Custom Dodge A100 pickup - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin

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Junkyard Find: 1983 Volkswagen Vanagon Steal Your Face Edition http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/11/junkyard-find-1983-volkswagen-vanagon-steal-your-face-edition/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/11/junkyard-find-1983-volkswagen-vanagon-steal-your-face-edition/#comments Fri, 23 Nov 2012 14:00:45 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=467717 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) […]

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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.
In the decades before too many chili dogs and cigarettes killed Jerry Garcia, Deadheads would follow the band around the country in various hooptiefied motor vehicles. While most of them drove stuff like battered old Detroit pickups and random members of the K-Car family, some followed archetypal hippie tradition and toured in Volkswagen Transporters. This is such a van.
The skull-and-lightning-bolt artwork from the Grateful Dead’s Steal Your Face live album became the centerpiece of 900 billion emulations, variations, and permutations, on stickers sold in Dead show parking lots as well as homemade VW van paint jobs.
This van has two Steal Your Face Skull stickers that I could find, and I’m sure there were more.
The “Free Tibet” sticker might as well have been issued to all Vanagon owners back in the late 1980s.
I pulled the left front marker-light lens for my friend’s van, but couldn’t figure out the other items on his wish list.
He needs some component of the engine cover, or maybe it’s the radiator puke tank. Anyway, I couldn’t decipher his cryptic text messages, so he’ll need to go back and get that part himself.
Because, like, life is all a circle, maaaan, I happened to be crawling around in this van on the same day that I and 1,325,809 other Colorado voters chose to legalize marijuana in our state. While I hadn’t been firing up a bowl of Hickenlooper Haywire in a Chong-sourced four-footer prior to seeing this van, I still managed to be impressed by these homemade quasi-Hawaiian curtains. How many times had these curtains absorbed the strains of the Dead’s disco anthem on a crappy cassette deck during their lives, I wondered.
Well, it was like the ghost of Owsley Stanley himself appeared and told me I needed these genuine Deadhead curtains for my decidedly un-hippie Dodge van, so I bought the complete set for five bucks.

26 - Steal Your Face - Picture courtesy of the Grateful Dead 01 - 1983 Volkswagen Vanagon Down On The Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee Martin 02 - 1983 Volkswagen Vanagon Down On The Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee Martin 03 - 1983 Volkswagen Vanagon Down On The Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee Martin 04 - 1983 Volkswagen Vanagon Down On The Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee Martin 05 - 1983 Volkswagen Vanagon Down On The Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee Martin 06 - 1983 Volkswagen Vanagon Down On The Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee Martin 07 - 1983 Volkswagen Vanagon Down On The Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee Martin 08 - 1983 Volkswagen Vanagon Down On The Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee Martin 09 - 1983 Volkswagen Vanagon Down On The Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee Martin 10 - 1983 Volkswagen Vanagon Down On The Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee Martin 11 - 1983 Volkswagen Vanagon Down On The Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee Martin 12 - 1983 Volkswagen Vanagon Down On The Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee Martin 13 - 1983 Volkswagen Vanagon Down On The Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee Martin 14 - 1983 Volkswagen Vanagon Down On The Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee Martin 15 - 1983 Volkswagen Vanagon Down On The Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee Martin 16 - 1983 Volkswagen Vanagon Down On The Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee Martin 17 - 1983 Volkswagen Vanagon Down On The Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee Martin 18 - 1983 Volkswagen Vanagon Down On The Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee Martin 19 - 1983 Volkswagen Vanagon Down On The Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee Martin 21 - 1983 Volkswagen Vanagon Down On The Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee Martin 22 - 1983 Volkswagen Vanagon Down On The Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee Martin 23 - 1983 Volkswagen Vanagon Down On The Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee Martin 24 - 1983 Volkswagen Vanagon Down On The Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee Martin 25 - 1983 Volkswagen Vanagon Down On The Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee Martin 26 - 1983 Volkswagen Vanagon Down On The Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee Martin Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail

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Question: What Subject Matter Will Go On Your Custom Van’s Airbrush Mural? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/09/question-what-subject-matter-will-go-on-your-custom-vans-airbrush-mural/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/09/question-what-subject-matter-will-go-on-your-custom-vans-airbrush-mural/#comments Fri, 28 Sep 2012 15:00:14 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=461884 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 […]

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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.
Unfortunately, my custom-van project is a window-equipped Dodge Sportsman, so I can’t get any serious airbrush work done to it (I will get plenty of pinstriping, of course). If I ever get a windowless “molester van,” however, I think I’d go for a mural combining science-fiction and low-rider-style Aztec motifs, complete with gold leaf on the helmets of the astronauts/Aztec warriors, all done in super-pneumatic pinball-machine-backglass style. How about you?

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Junkyard Find: 1972 Dodge Tradesman Custom Van http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/09/junkyard-find-1972-dodge-tradesman-custom-van/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/09/junkyard-find-1972-dodge-tradesman-custom-van/#comments Wed, 26 Sep 2012 13:00:10 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=461593 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 […]

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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.
The Tradesman was the windowless “molester van” cargo hauler, much better suited than the passenger-van Sportsman for airbrush murals depicting jousting knights battling Aztec kings in a zebra herd at the Mars Base.
The most basic customization job on these vans, back when The Sweet was big and groovy chicks in tube tops alternated bongloads of Panama Red with swigs of Boone’s Farm, involved the application of circular bubble windows and some upholstery in the cargo area. If you wanted to increase the odds of enticing those groovy chicks into your van, you needed the airbrush mural, a quadrophonic 8-track sound system, and maybe a wood-burning stove.
I was in grade school back when the custom-van craze reached its zenith, and even then most people thought they were pretty goofy. I wanted a Porsche 914, not a custom van, when I was 8. And yet… I’m slaving away on my own custom van project now.

11 - 1972 Dodge Tradesman Van - Picture courtesy of Phil 'Murilee Martin' Greden 01 - 1972 Dodge Tradesman Van - Picture courtesy of Phil 'Murilee Martin' Greden 02 - 1972 Dodge Tradesman Van - Picture courtesy of Phil 'Murilee Martin' Greden 03 - 1972 Dodge Tradesman Van - Picture courtesy of Phil 'Murilee Martin' Greden 04 - 1972 Dodge Tradesman Van - Picture courtesy of Phil 'Murilee Martin' Greden 05 - 1972 Dodge Tradesman Van - Picture courtesy of Phil 'Murilee Martin' Greden 06 - 1972 Dodge Tradesman Van - Picture courtesy of Phil 'Murilee Martin' Greden 07 - 1972 Dodge Tradesman Van - Picture courtesy of Phil 'Murilee Martin' Greden 08 - 1972 Dodge Tradesman Van - Picture courtesy of Phil 'Murilee Martin' Greden 09 - 1972 Dodge Tradesman Van - Picture courtesy of Phil 'Murilee Martin' Greden 10 - 1972 Dodge Tradesman Van - Picture courtesy of Phil 'Murilee Martin' Greden Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail

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Vantasy and Superwagon: Vintage AMT and MPC Model Kits Back In Production http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/08/vantasy-and-superwagon-vintage-amt-and-mpc-model-kits-back-in-production/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/08/vantasy-and-superwagon-vintage-amt-and-mpc-model-kits-back-in-production/#comments Fri, 24 Aug 2012 17:30:32 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=457815 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 […]

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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.
How about a groovy Meyers Manx in 1/25th scale?
Naturally, the van kits have great great appeal for me. The 1/32-scale Zingers, with their absurdly oversize engines, look like fun.
However, Dirty Donny’s Vantasy would be just about right for my office, especially if I install little speakers inside the van to play “Dream Weaver” on an endless loop.
If you’re going to build a classic Detroit machine from the 1960s, it’s always best to skip the Camaros and Chargers in favor of the 421 Super Duty Pontiac Catalina. This kit comes with parts and decals that let you choose between street or strip version.
Having put endless hours into an AMT kit, I must issue the caveat that these models probably aren’t quite up to the fit-and-finish level you’ll get from kits made for the super-obsessive Japanese kit-builder market. This means you’ll need to make with the sandpaper and Model Bondo— just like with real Detroit cars!
In addition to the car stuff, you can get Star Trek, KISS, Munsters, and so on. Murilee says check it out!

10 - Vintage model kits - picture courtesy of Round2 01 - Vintage model kits - picture courtesy of Round2 02 - Vintage model kits - picture courtesy of Round2 03 - Vintage model kits - picture courtesy of Round2 04 - Vintage model kits - picture courtesy of Round2 05 - Vintage model kits - picture courtesy of Round2 06 - Vintage model kits - picture courtesy of Round2 07 - Vintage model kits - picture courtesy of Round2 08 - Vintage model kits - picture courtesy of Round2 09 - Vintage model kits - picture courtesy of Round2

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Junkyard Find: 1978 Volkswagen Transporter http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/03/junkyard-find-1978-volkswagen-transporter/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/03/junkyard-find-1978-volkswagen-transporter/#comments Tue, 06 Mar 2012 14:00:15 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=432301 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 […]

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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.
It’s hard to imagine anything more 70s than a brown Transporter with hideous crypto-Native-American custom striping, also in shades of brown.
Like most junkyard VW vans, this one sat for many, many years before taking its final tow-truck ride.
The question here is: did the van’s final owner store the engine inside, or was it placed there by a junkyard customer who pulled the engine and then decided not to buy it?
It’s not especially rusty, by air-cooled VW standards (i.e., it’s not a vaguely vehicle-shaped red stain on the pavement), but it’s pretty much used up. Next stop: Crusher!

15 - Junked 1978 Volkswagen Transporter - Pictures courtesy of Phillip 'Ledwinka' Greden 01 - Junked 1978 Volkswagen Transporter - Pictures courtesy of Phillip 'Ledwinka' Greden 02 - Junked 1978 Volkswagen Transporter - Pictures courtesy of Phillip 'Ledwinka' Greden 03 - Junked 1978 Volkswagen Transporter - Pictures courtesy of Phillip 'Ledwinka' Greden 04 - Junked 1978 Volkswagen Transporter - Pictures courtesy of Phillip 'Ledwinka' Greden 05 - Junked 1978 Volkswagen Transporter - Pictures courtesy of Phillip 'Ledwinka' Greden 06 - Junked 1978 Volkswagen Transporter - Pictures courtesy of Phillip 'Ledwinka' Greden 07 - Junked 1978 Volkswagen Transporter - Pictures courtesy of Phillip 'Ledwinka' Greden 08 - Junked 1978 Volkswagen Transporter - Pictures courtesy of Phillip 'Ledwinka' Greden 09 - Junked 1978 Volkswagen Transporter - Pictures courtesy of Phillip 'Ledwinka' Greden 10 - Junked 1978 Volkswagen Transporter - Pictures courtesy of Phillip 'Ledwinka' Greden 11 - Junked 1978 Volkswagen Transporter - Pictures courtesy of Phillip 'Ledwinka' Greden 12 - Junked 1978 Volkswagen Transporter - Pictures courtesy of Phillip 'Ledwinka' Greden 13 - Junked 1978 Volkswagen Transporter - Pictures courtesy of Phillip 'Ledwinka' Greden 14 - Junked 1978 Volkswagen Transporter - Pictures courtesy of Phillip 'Ledwinka' Greden transporter Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail

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Junkyard Jackpot: The Missing Pieces For the A100 Hell Project Puzzle http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/02/junkyard-jackpot-the-missing-pieces-for-the-a100-hell-project-puzzle/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/02/junkyard-jackpot-the-missing-pieces-for-the-a100-hell-project-puzzle/#comments Fri, 17 Feb 2012 16:30:55 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=431198 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 […]

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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.
Unfortunately, I heard about this find late Wednesday night, and I was heading to the airport Thursday morning to fly out to the Yeehaw It’s Texas 24 Hours of LeMons. I knew that the vultures might well pick that rare van clean by the time I got back, so my only choice was to get up early, dash to the junkyard, pull the parts, and then rush to the airport. Bundling up against the 15-degree cold in many layers of Homeless Choice™ brand clothes, I threw my tools in my cargo-hauling Civic and burned rubber to I-25.
The #1 item on my list has been a replacement driver’s-side windshield panel; the one on my van was badly cracked and has the look of a piece of glass that wants to disintegrate into my face at highway speed. The one on this ’69 A100 (in fact, it’s the long-wheelbase A108 version of the A100) was in fine shape, and I actually cackled with glee when I saw it.
The ancient weatherstripping was dried-out and shrunken, in addition to being frozen rock-hard by the Denver winter air, and the locking strip was fused solid in its channel. This meant I was in for 45 minutes of chipping away at rubber the consistency of pine with a putty knife. Fortunately, the glass in these vans is absurdly thick, so there wasn’t much danger of cracking this windshield as I worked.
In a few areas, the glass had fused to the rubber with such tenacity that I had to use my Junkyard Hammer™ (Vice-Grips) to get the blade to bite.
Got it!
Another problem with my van is the window in one of the rear doors. It broke at some point, so a previous owner replaced it with a piece of Lexan. That worked OK, but the plastic has become very scratched and hazy, essentially opaque when the sun (or headlights) shine on it. This A108 had excellent rear door glass, complete with dark tinting.
This weatherstripping was quite flexible, so removing the glass was just a matter of slicing it with a utility knife and peeling the rubber away.
Three minutes later, the glass was out. Good thing I did the difficult glass-removal operation first, because my hands had become thoroughly frozen by this time. Mechanix gloves are great, but not really made for insulation.
Got the glass! Now to harvest some more stuff before my plane leaves DIA.
The A100, like many Chrysler products of the 1960s, used a foot-pump-operated windshield-washer squirter, with a plastic reservoir on a metal bracket. This system was missing most of its parts in my van, but this A108 had the entire setup in perfect working order. It’s almost impossible to find the black plastic washer-fluid reservoir in good shape, so this was quite a score for me. A few twists of the screwdriver and the whole mess was mine.
The heater blower motor in my van is bad. Here’s the replacement.
The instrument cluster in my van is extremely cool-looking, but only the ammeter functions. I’m considering modifying a 1961 Citroën ID19 cluster (which I own) to use in the A100, but it wouldn’t hurt to have a spare Dodge unit in case I want to rebuild the factory cluster. The 1969 version isn’t as vintage-looking as the ’66, but the innards are identical. Four screws and it’s out.
I also grabbed the horn button assembly, a taillight lens, some seat mounting pins, a side-view mirror, a door strap (which keeps the door from swinging open too far and bashing the bodywork), an engine-cover prop rod, and a bunch of small hardware I need. I had pulled all this stuff quickly enough that I had time (barely) to run back home and drop everything off before heading to the airport.
When I got back into town on Monday, I went back and got the other half of the windshield and the other rear door glass, plus some more small pieces. You never know when you’re going to need spare glass for your 46-year-old project!

38 - Harvesting Dodge A100 Parts - Pictures by Phillip 'Sportsman' Greden 01 - Harvesting Dodge A100 Parts - Pictures by Phillip 'Sportsman' Greden 02 - Harvesting Dodge A100 Parts - Pictures by Phillip 'Sportsman' Greden 03 - Harvesting Dodge A100 Parts - Pictures by Phillip 'Sportsman' Greden 04 - Harvesting Dodge A100 Parts - Pictures by Phillip 'Sportsman' Greden 05 - Harvesting Dodge A100 Parts - Pictures by Phillip 'Sportsman' Greden 06 - Harvesting Dodge A100 Parts - Pictures by Phillip 'Sportsman' Greden 07 - Harvesting Dodge A100 Parts - Pictures by Phillip 'Sportsman' Greden 08 - Harvesting Dodge A100 Parts - Pictures by Phillip 'Sportsman' Greden 09 - Harvesting Dodge A100 Parts - Pictures by Phillip 'Sportsman' Greden 10 - Harvesting Dodge A100 Parts - Pictures by Phillip 'Sportsman' Greden 11 - Harvesting Dodge A100 Parts - Pictures by Phillip 'Sportsman' Greden 12 - Harvesting Dodge A100 Parts - Pictures by Phillip 'Sportsman' Greden 13 - Harvesting Dodge A100 Parts - Pictures by Phillip 'Sportsman' Greden 14 - Harvesting Dodge A100 Parts - Pictures by Phillip 'Sportsman' Greden 15 - Harvesting Dodge A100 Parts - Pictures by Phillip 'Sportsman' Greden 17 - Harvesting Dodge A100 Parts - Pictures by Phillip 'Sportsman' Greden 18 - Harvesting Dodge A100 Parts - Pictures by Phillip 'Sportsman' Greden 19 - Harvesting Dodge A100 Parts - Pictures by Phillip 'Sportsman' Greden 21 - Harvesting Dodge A100 Parts - Pictures by Phillip 'Sportsman' Greden 22 - Harvesting Dodge A100 Parts - Pictures by Phillip 'Sportsman' Greden 23 - Harvesting Dodge A100 Parts - Pictures by Phillip 'Sportsman' Greden 24 - Harvesting Dodge A100 Parts - Pictures by Phillip 'Sportsman' Greden 25 - Harvesting Dodge A100 Parts - Pictures by Phillip 'Sportsman' Greden 26 - Harvesting Dodge A100 Parts - Pictures by Phillip 'Sportsman' Greden 29 - Harvesting Dodge A100 Parts - Pictures by Phillip 'Sportsman' Greden 30 - Harvesting Dodge A100 Parts - Pictures by Phillip 'Sportsman' Greden 31 - Harvesting Dodge A100 Parts - Pictures by Phillip 'Sportsman' Greden 32 - Harvesting Dodge A100 Parts - Pictures by Phillip 'Sportsman' Greden 34 - Harvesting Dodge A100 Parts - Pictures by Phillip 'Sportsman' Greden 37 - Harvesting Dodge A100 Parts - Pictures by Phillip 'Sportsman' Greden Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail

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Junkyard Find: Customized 1971 Ford Econoline http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/11/junkyard-find-customized-1971-ford-econoline/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/11/junkyard-find-customized-1971-ford-econoline/#comments Thu, 24 Nov 2011 19:30:24 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=419781 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. This van appears to have been […]

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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.
This van appears to have been customized after the peak of the mid-70s van craze, since it’s more wholesome-conversion-van than bongs-and-black-light-van.
The exterior graphics have a distinctly 1980s feel, and there’s a real lack of plastic bubble windows shaped like cannabis leaves.
Ford went to a front-engine design for the Econoline in the 1968 model year, which freed up more interior space for waterbeds and wood-burning stoves, but I still prefer the mid-engine design for style reasons.

DOTJ-71EconolineCustom-01 DOTJ-71EconolineCustom-02 DOTJ-71EconolineCustom-03 DOTJ-71EconolineCustom-04 DOTJ-71EconolineCustom-05 DOTJ-71EconolineCustom-06 DOTJ-71EconolineCustom-07 DOTJ-71EconolineCustom-08 DOTJ-71EconolineCustom-09 DOTJ-71EconolineCustom-10 DOTJ-71EconolineCustom-11 DOTJ-71EconolineCustom-12 DOTJ-71EconolineCustom-13 DOTJ-71EconolineCustom-14 DOTJ-71EconolineCustom-15 DOTJ-71EconolineCustom-16 DOTJ-71EconolineCustom-17 DOTJ-71EconolineCustom-18 DOTJ-71EconolineCustom-19 DOTJ-71EconolineCustom-20 DOTJ-71EconolineCustom-21 DOTJ-71EconolineCustom-22 DOTJ-71EconolineCustom-23 DOTJ-71EconolineCustom-24 DOTJ-71EconolineCustom-25 Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail

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Down On The Mile High Street: Take That, Homeowners’ Associations! http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/07/down-on-the-mile-high-street-take-that-homeowners-associations/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/07/down-on-the-mile-high-street-take-that-homeowners-associations/#comments Thu, 21 Jul 2011 13:00:07 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=403754 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.

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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.

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A100 Hell Project: Finally, the Right Tachometer http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/06/a100-hell-project-finally-the-right-tachometer/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/06/a100-hell-project-finally-the-right-tachometer/#comments Thu, 30 Jun 2011 18:00:49 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=401199 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 […]

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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.

You could buy this type of no-name tach from J.C. Whitney or Manny, Moe, and Jack for at least two solid decades. It’s got the right blend of 50s industro-chic and Early Malaise Era plasticky cheapness to go with my Sportsman Custom’s instrument cluster, which probably cost Chrysler about $4.17 to make. It will look just right bolted to the steering column.

I’m pretty sure the 4-6-8 selector feature on generic tachometers didn’t appear until the 1980s, but the Japanese factory that made these things probably didn’t change the essential design from its early-60s original until Gulf War I.

I picked up this gauge at the same yard that gave me the TBI intake for my van’s eventual Megasquirt conversion. Right now, the fuel tank is getting cleaned and having a return-line fitting added, so an EFI 318 should be powering my van in the not-incredibly-distant future.

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A100 Hell Project: Red Metalflake Naugahyde… or Reproduction Dart GT Vinyl? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/04/a100-hell-project-red-metalflake-naugahyde-or-reproduction-dart-gt-vinyl/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/04/a100-hell-project-red-metalflake-naugahyde-or-reproduction-dart-gt-vinyl/#comments Thu, 07 Apr 2011 13:00:21 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=390327 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! The framing and foam rubber are in beat but […]

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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!

The framing and foam rubber are in beat but usable condition, but the original vinyl covers are totally hopeless. I could find some junkyard seats narrow enough to fit (e.g., Miata or MR2 seats), but that just won’t cut it in an A100. Now I face a dilemma: Do I go all-out custom and find some totally stony red metalflake Naugahyde, then get a custom upholstery shop to make my seats look like something out of a booth in an upscale Wisconsin bowling alley, circa 1964? Thick red piping, the works? Or do I call up my ex-coworkers at Year One and order me up a set of 1965 Dart GT seat covers? The Dart GT and most of the Chrysler factory drag race cars of the era used light and simple A100 buckets, so I could be all vintage-correct and get some colorful Dart covers sewn onto my van seats. What to do?

For now, I need a temporary solution, so I can drive the van without getting covered with crumbly foam-rubber chunks. Hey, Tradesman-based RVs of the 1970s use very similar seats to the A100’s!

This junked 1975 Dodge RV had seats that were first cousins to the ones in my van; the external dimensions are identical, though the spacing of the tracks are narrower in the A100. For 20 bucks, though, I’ll take one!

All I need to do is remove the RV’s seat tracks and drill new mounting holes for the A100’s. Fortunately, the front-to-back distance is the same for both, so I don’t need to fabricate funky brackets to get the A100 tracks installed.

Here’s the A100 seat.

The old tracks come off easily; they’re not even particularly grungy. Sometimes junkyard seats have narsty petri-dish-grade biological material packed into the track hardware, but not these.

The A100’s tracks are spaced about 9-1/2″ apart.

Measure once, cut 15 times!

After drilling fresh holes in the RV seat’s frame, I used nuts and bolts to attach the A100’s tracks.

Ready!

Installed, the new seat is a bit grimy but a huge improvement over what was there before. This temporary measure buys me some time until I can decide between wild custom or semi-factory-correct (I’m not even considering getting repro A100 seat covers, since they came in boring solid neutral colors only). What would you do?

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Sad Vans! http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/04/sad-vans/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/04/sad-vans/#comments Wed, 06 Apr 2011 13:00:26 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=390194 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? The oil floats on the dirty rainwater, as the vans await certain death. That Mexican restaurant in Redwood City that had a jaunty VW bus […]

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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?

The oil floats on the dirty rainwater, as the vans await certain death.

That Mexican restaurant in Redwood City that had a jaunty VW bus as a delivery vehicle? Not so jaunty now.

This Dodge Tradesman lived through the heyday of the custom van, then endured decades of scorn before becoming ironically hip. None of that history matters now; within a month it will be in a smelter in Guangzhou. At least someone grabbed the diamond-shaped bubble windows.

Does anyone remember the Chevy Caravan?

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A Little Help From Hooniverse: Leaky Van Window Fixed With Long-Distance Junkyard Parts http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/04/a-little-help-from-hooniverse-leaky-van-window-fixed-with-long-distance-junkyard-parts/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/04/a-little-help-from-hooniverse-leaky-van-window-fixed-with-long-distance-junkyard-parts/#comments Mon, 04 Apr 2011 13:00:18 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=389565 The A100 Hell Project really isn’t very hellish, since the van is rust-free and still has most of its tough-to-find trim parts. However, the list of really irritating minor problems that must be solved to bring a project vehicle up to real-world-enjoyable status is always long. One of the most maddening was the busted window […]

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The A100 Hell Project really isn’t very hellish, since the van is rust-free and still has most of its tough-to-find trim parts. However, the list of really irritating minor problems that must be solved to bring a project vehicle up to real-world-enjoyable status is always long. One of the most maddening was the busted window latch on one of the right-side windows. Chrysler changed the design on this latch— which probably cost about 14 cents per unit new— in the late 1960s, which means they’re very rare in junkyards, and nobody seems to be selling them on eBay. Snow and rain were getting in, the window clattered while driving, and anyone who wanted to rummage in the van for crack-exchangeable valuables could reach right in and pop the side door lock. What to do?

Ford Econolines of the 80s and 90s used a fairly similar window-latch design, and I could have modified one to work on the A100 without too much hassle. I’m trying to keep the correct trim components in the A100, as part of my 1973-style custom-van project, so the Econoline hack remained a last resort.

The super-low-budget pot-metal construction of the old latch failed at the bracket that mounts to the door frame. No way I could fix that and have it come out looking right.

But then Hooniverse writer Alex Kierstein dropped me an email, saying that he’d found an A100 in a Seattle wrecking yard. It was fairly well picked over, but still had a little meat clinging to its gnawed bones. Did I want anything? I sure did! In addition to the window latch, Alex grabbed me another item on my list: a non-trashed factory radio antenna. The stuff was on the way to Denver right away. Thanks, Alex!

Chrysler’s penny-pinching with sub-low-bidder parts suppliers, coupled with damp Pacific Northwest conditions, meant that the channel that mounts the latch to the window glass was hopelessly rusted and got pretty well mangled during removal. Fortunately, I only needed to replace part of my latch.

Some quick work with the drill on the rivet holding the lower bracket…

…and I’ve got the part that I need to fix my latch.

I had to be careful not to break the latch off the window, but this part of the job wasn’t difficult.

But a job like this always has at least one unexpected headache. All I need to do to remove the rest of the broken mounting bracket is remove three screws. What could go wrong?

Ka-tink! Wait, why did something fall inside the door when the last screw came out? Yes, Chrysler saved 0.4 cents per van by using an unsecured backing plate with three threaded holes, so that the bracket could be adjusted to compensate for flaky tolerances, rather than just eliminating the flakiness and screwing the bracket right into the door. The line worker simply set down his half-pint of Granddad, reached inside the door to hold the backing plate in place, and screwed the bracket down. Then the next line worker set down his flask of peach schnapps and kicked the door panel into place with his steel-toed boot. Meanwhile, Chrysler hired several new layers of management to find new ways to cut corners on parts quality, another layer of management to write reports on parts-quality corner cutting, and yet another layer to find ways to lower the quality of life for line workers, which jacked up their booze consumption to even more disastrous levels in the 1970s. The upshot of all this was that I had to remove the inside door handle, pry off the door panel, reach through a sharp-edged access hole, and root around in a bunch of 45-year-old schmutz to find the backing plate, which had fallen into a totally unreachable crevice. This was the most time-consuming part of the latch replacement process.

A quick trip to the hardware store and the rivet replacement goes on.

All fixed! Next on the list: do something about the disintegrating seat vinyl.

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Carburetor Bad, Fuel Injection Good: Custom Dodge Van Donates EFI System To A100 Hell Project http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/04/carburetor-bad-fuel-injection-good-custom-dodge-van-donates-efi-system-to-a100-hell-project/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/04/carburetor-bad-fuel-injection-good-custom-dodge-van-donates-efi-system-to-a100-hell-project/#comments Fri, 01 Apr 2011 16:00:06 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=389413 I’ve been driving the A100 Hell Project around with its horrible-at-best Carter BBD carburetor (which Chrysler almost certainly chose because it was 18 cents cheaper than a Holley), and every time it stumbles, refuses to idle, or performs any of the standard repertoire of BBD tricks, I swear to myself that I’m going to go […]

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I’ve been driving the A100 Hell Project around with its horrible-at-best Carter BBD carburetor (which Chrysler almost certainly chose because it was 18 cents cheaper than a Holley), and every time it stumbles, refuses to idle, or performs any of the standard repertoire of BBD tricks, I swear to myself that I’m going to go to fuel injection real soon. That process began weekend before last, when I grabbed the intake and throttle body off an ’89 Dodge van.

Oh, I have a Holley 2300 in the garage, and an adapter to bolt it to the Carter-friendly intake, but that’ll just be a temporary measure. The long-term plan involves a Megasquirt setup controlling bolt-on Chrysler factory hardware. I need to rig a fuel return line to the A100’s tank, along with a high-pressure fuel pump and an oxygen sensor in the exhaust, but the first step involved scoring an intake/throttle body setup from a pre-Magnum 318 or 360 Dodge truck. A quick phone call to Andy, LeMons racer and owner of a Colorado yard packed with such goodies as this time-capsule ’66 Coronet and the King of the Molester Vans, and I was on my way to snatch the intake hardware off a Crusher-bound ’89 Dodge Ram van conversion. “You might have to help me move some other cars out of the way first,” he told me, and he wasn’t kidding. Here’s the view of the van when I arrived.

What van, right? After we dragged the ’02 Camaro, the Peugeot 505, the ’95 Caprice, and the ’79 Malibu station wagon out of the way and over to the other side of the yard, we still had the Golf, the Monte, and the Vanagon to go. Andy has plenty of inventory, and it’s all for sale!

There it is! It’s a shame to crush a running van conversion in nice shape, but the scrap value is higher than the real-world resale value these days; those who once wanted these vans now insist on giant SUVs.

Hmmm… that intake isn’t coming out from this side!

That’s better! Once the doghouse came off, access to just about all the fasteners was quite easy.

Rodents had been nesting on the engine, so I had to brush away lots of hantavirus-saturated mouse poop and nest material to get to the intake bolts.

The only real hassle was removing the AC compressor brackets, which attach to the front of the intake manifold. That part had to be done from the front, with every socket extension and swivel in my toolbox. Adding to the fun was the mixup of metric and SAE fasteners used by Dodge during the late 1980s (this concept served as the inspiration for a great 24 Hours of LeMons penalty.)

Success! Then it was time to admire some of the great machinery in Andy’s yard.

Like, say, this refrigerator-white big-block Satellite! I’ll share some more of my photos of Andy’s inventory in the near future, so check in later.

Intake, throttle body, air cleaner, distributor, various sensors, pretty much 85% of the parts I’ll need to go to a Megasquirt EFI system in the A100, all tossed in the back of my increasingly beat ’92 Civic. The intake should bolt right on to my 318, and the throttle body is more or less self-contained, with built-in fuel-pressure regulator, most of the needed sensors, and the correct downshift linkage attachments. Since I’m not trying to go fast, the power limitations of this throttle body won’t matter to me; I just want the van to start in all weather, idle smoothly, and crack the two-digit fuel-economy barrier.

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Dodge A100 Hell Project: You Want Luxury? Here’s Luxury! http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/03/dodge-a100-hell-project-you-want-luxury-heres-luxury/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/03/dodge-a100-hell-project-you-want-luxury-heres-luxury/#comments Fri, 18 Mar 2011 17:00:22 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=387714 These days, we’ve got endless choices in plush, comfy trucks. Back when my 1966 Dodge A100 project van was built, the top trim level of the A100 was the Sportsman Custom, and that was one of your few luxury-truck choices at the time. Naturally, I insisted on a Sportsman Custom when I went shopping for […]

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These days, we’ve got endless choices in plush, comfy trucks. Back when my 1966 Dodge A100 project van was built, the top trim level of the A100 was the Sportsman Custom, and that was one of your few luxury-truck choices at the time. Naturally, I insisted on a Sportsman Custom when I went shopping for a vintage flat-nose van. With the Sportsman Custom, you got such creature comforts as ashtrays, an AM radio, and— best of all— a steel step that popped out when you opened the side doors. The one on my van wasn’t exactly working when I bought it, but some bashing with a sledgehammer careful adjustment and hosing down with Liquid Wrench judicious lubrication fixed it right up!

Check it out in action! I still need to scrounge up some nice minivan bench seats, or maybe four La-Z-Boy recliners, in order to haul my passengers in true 1966-grade truck luxury; I don’t want them to think that, say, an IHC Travelall would be more comfortable. Independent front suspension? Don’t need it! Sound-deadening insulation? Slows you down! Air conditioning? Plain ol’ windows were good enough for Grandpa, and they oughta be good enough for us!

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Wheels Make the Van! http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/12/wheels-make-the-van/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/12/wheels-make-the-van/#comments Wed, 15 Dec 2010 23:30:03 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=377355 As the Dodge A100 Hell Project proceeds in fits and starts, I’ve been so wrapped up in making the thing streetworhy that haven’t gotten around to doing anything about the external appearance… until now! Yes, that’s a full set of Cragar S/S clones, in the proper anachronistic 14″ diameter and shod with big fat Grand […]

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As the Dodge A100 Hell Project proceeds in fits and starts, I’ve been so wrapped up in making the thing streetworhy that haven’t gotten around to doing anything about the external appearance… until now!

Yes, that’s a full set of Cragar S/S clones, in the proper anachronistic 14″ diameter and shod with big fat Grand Am Radial GTs (225s in front, 245s in back).

I got them from the owner of the cleanest ’74 AMC Javelin AMX I’ve ever seen; they came with the car and he decided he wanted to go with real Cragars.

The van looks so much better than it did with the white steel spokes that I may have to jump right to the Cherry Bomb exhaust upgrade, because a van that looks this mean needs to sound mean!

The Grand Ams are pretty old and I don’t quite trust them on the highway, so I’ll be shopping for some Mickey Thompsons in the near future; there’s room in the rear wheelwells to go to at least 255s out back. And for you aficionados of annoyingly vintage features, left-hand-thread wheel studs are right up there with mercury-based syphillis treatments and radium-enhanced toothpaste when it comes to the “dumb stuff they did in the old days” department. To make things even more fun on my van, only the left rear wheel has lefty studs; either the previous owner upgraded to righties all the way around and then did a rear axle swap, or he replaced the front studs and then lost motivation for the project.

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