By on December 15, 2010

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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37 Comments on “Wheels Make the Van!...”

  • avatar

    I’d love to have one of these for my business. Put your name on the side and you have instant recognition.

  • avatar

    That’s a bitchin’ van! 

  • avatar
    Educator(of teachers)Dan

    Love it.  And you should keep the 14in diameter, taller sidewalls mean better ride.  My dad’s 1967 Mustang had genuine SS rims when he bought it from his MIL in 1978 but they were so beat to hell as to be unusable.  He bought some inexpensive rims off of a neighbor and picked up a set of fresh Cooper Cobra GTs in the process.  Car rode like it had a new suspension after that, the old Cragars still had bias ply tires on them.
    I want genuine Dayton wire wheels for the right luxury car at some point in the future.

  • avatar

    I moved to Boulder from Boston 34 years ago in that very same van. Did a similar engine swap through the side door. Ah, memories.

  • avatar

    I like the look of the Crager knock offs.  Two thumbs up!

  • avatar
    Mike the Dog

    As for the wheel stud thing, I’m guessing that the replacement brake drums up front only came in righty (like my ’68 Belvedere), but the rear axle is the original one. Could be wrong, though…

  • avatar

    You need to do a full shag carpeting interior!  And…a queen sized waterbed between the wheelwells in the back.  And don’t forget to tint the windows for privacy.

    • 0 avatar

      A queen-size would fly in a B van (look it up, the interior width is the same as a standard queen mattress); the A is considerably smaller.
      …do full-size waterbeds even exist? Then again, I’ve never looked.

    • 0 avatar

      I want to be able to use the van to haul engines and stuff for future projects, so I’ll be leaving the cargo area pretty much un-shagged. I am going to do metalflake Naugahyde on the front seats, though.

  • avatar

    There are three things in life that are certain, Death, taxes, and if you get hit in the front in that van, you are going to be injured. I admire your bravery!

  • avatar
    Mike C.

    Don’t forget the ‘If This Van’s a Rockin’…’ bumper sticker.  I think the Cragar clones look great on there.
    “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.”

    I had an old Barracuda that had this same set up…

    • 0 avatar

      One of my 66 Chryslers is like that.  I swapped-in front discs from a 73 Chrysler.  The rotors came with regular RH studs installed.  My rear axle still has the original LH studs on the drivers side.  Doesn’t bother me a bit.

  • avatar

    Lookin’ good Murilee. Love these vans, along with the Chevrolet and Ford equivalents.

  • avatar

    Damn! I haven’t seen Appliance wheels since the 80s!! Was that Javelin in mothballs for the last 35 years or so??
    They definitely set the Van right! Sano man!

  • avatar

    The back needs a sticker that says:

  • avatar

    I sigh everytime I see somebody put rims on a vehicle that cost more than the vehicle is worth.  If the vehicle has a market value of $1000, and you put $2000 rims on the car, you know what you’ll get when the vehicle is totalled?  $1000, minus your deductible usually.  To get the value of customization, you have to get a rider on your policy to cover the value of the added equipment.  Hardly anybody does this.
    At least buying custom wheels beats RENTING them. There is actually a wheel rental shop in my neighborhood.

  • avatar

    As a child, I was repeatedly car sick in a carpool van very similar to this. Nonetheless I think this is PHAT.

  • avatar

    Going totally off topic, can we see more of that Javelin? I swear that’s the one I’ve been dreaming about for the last 23 years! Except the one I’m dreaming of has a 383 SBC and a Tremec 6 speed…
    On topic: Love the Appliance wheels. Haven’t seen those in a coon’s age…

  • avatar

    I have but two simple suggestions:
    1) ‘Roo Bars
    2) Like pipes, failing that wrap around stack exhausts

  • avatar

    Murilee, I’m not sure about your avatar. I like this better.
    If you’re going to go Brezhnev, don’t half ass it.

  • avatar

    Not sure if you’d agree with this Murilee, but if this my van….I’d say your almost done.
    I’d replace the bumpers, fix the major dents, hit it with gray primer and tint the windows.
    Maybe at some point, some bass boat blue paint with white side panels.

  • avatar

    Murilee, how does the engine install in one of those?  From top or bottom?  Duh, probably top since you have it on a crane.

    OBTW the LH lug nut threads on the LH side were not just “dumb stuff they did in the old days” unless you are a cost accountant.  They were less likely to loosen if they were not tightened sufficiently.

  • avatar

    Those white steelies look like the rims on my livestock trailer, so you are looking good now! Having grown up in the late 60’s/early 70’s the Cragar S/S on muscle and pseudo-muscle cars were common as dirt. Frankly, I never did like them, (but they look good on your van). I had a ’66 Plymouth that had the lefty thread lugs, what a PITA as the other cars we had (6 kids in the family with 4 driving at the same time, and a farm, we had lots of things to drive!) were all Fords and GMs. Had to look a bit to find chrome lug nuts but they were more common back in those days.

  • avatar

    Hi Murilee. Nice to see that you’ve found a new home at TTAC. The Dodge is looking great. It reminds me of my father’s van when I was a kid, but he had the Keystone mags. I love Appliance rims. They’re the only manufacturer that ever made custom wheels for the FWD Eldorado. The only custom wheel that has more ’70’s street cred is the slotted Ansen Sprint. As for the Cragar SS, everyone does that.

  • avatar

    One thing I would try to improve on that van would be a conversion to disc brakes at least on the front, I remember those were not reallly good at stopping when you need to…
    Kudos on the wheels and the project!!

  • avatar

    Murilee, you’re making nice progress.  While I lobbied, on Jolopnik, for black centered Cragars, I cant argue with full chrome, augmented with outline white letter tires.  Have you decided on the exterior paint scheme?  I still think a refresh of the original color scheme and loosing the bumpers is a good look. Keep posting your progress.  BTW, I saw a pickup version in your Colorado salvage yard post.  That had to be a real temptation…

  • avatar

    Was there some engineering reason for LH threads on one side of Chrysler Corp cars?

  • avatar
    Felis Concolor

    Damnit, get out of my head; my own resto-rod project uses Cragar 62s as well.

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