By on June 29, 2018

There aren’t too many vehicles that can really heat up the bile in your stomach like a botched custom. The Plymouth Prowler isn’t for everyone and the Mustang II is an acquired taste, but neither elicit the negative response of a customized El Camino donk riding on 27-inch wheels with a Dora the Explorer paint job.

However, donk culture includes a community of enthusiasts who love their vehicles dearly. Some people see a malaise-era classic cruising on wagon wheels and representing their favorite candy, soft drink, or television show and think it’s glorious. Loads of donks and hi-risers are tastefully executed each year. You can make a case for almost any custom, no matter how heinous it is to your own sensibilities.

There are, of course, exceptions, and the Caravan Pickup custom abomination seen above is assuredly one of those. I was getting coffee when news of this abomination reached me. My phone vibrated to indicate I had received a text message from a friend who shares a mutual interest in cars. “Dude, you’ve got to see this thing,” it read. “But I hope you’re sitting down.” 

Honestly, I should have laid down on the floor with a wallet in my mouth to stop myself from biting off my own tongue. The link I was sent took me to a Facebook Marketplace posting for Providence, Rhode Island — a city I used to find charming. In the post, one James Pina indicates he is selling a “One Of A Kind You Will Never See Another One Like This Runs And Drives Exellent Must See To Appreciate” vehicle.

(Classic Intrepid Rims… What A Vehicle! – Ed.)

The heading describes it as a 2000 Dodge Caravan Pickup, a model that was never built. As I clicked through the photos, auditory hallucinations began populating my mind — screeching tires, a crash, distant screams. Why had my friend done this to me? He knew my introduction to driving came via the Caravan and, as a result, I have a deep and irrational affinity for the family hauler.

As I began trying to make sense of why someone would convert a minivan into a pickup, things only got worse. Presumably, the customizations done to the minivan were aimed at making it more utilitarian. But the Dodge Caravan is already the most versatile vehicle on the planet. Keeping the seats in, you can transport up to seven passengers. With the seats removed, it becomes a perfectly serviceable hauler for furniture, mulch, or whatever else you can fit through the back hatch.

I have to assume this was done purely for aesthetic reasons, as any structural integrity this thing had before the modifications are completely gone now. Were it to be rear ended, it would absolutely fold into itself like an accordion. But the type of person who could look at the egg-shaped cab and think it an improvement is not someone I’d ever want to meet.

“Deffinitly A Head Turner,” is how Pina describes the physical manifestation of my worst nightmares, and I have to agree. If I saw this tragic creature on the street, my head would turn away so hard and fast, there’d be a real chance of it spinning off my body entirely.

While it remains mildly impressive that someone managed to repurpose the tailgate as the back portion of the cab, the fact that they had the idea in the first place is concerning. What else are they capable of? When I asked Pina if he was the one who had done the modifications, his response was an incredibly swift “No.”

He had no idea who built the car and didn’t seem particularly interested in answering my questions. Frankly, maybe it’s better not to know. I was already on an incredibly dark path.

If you’re interested in what is almost definitely a cursed vehicle, the Caravan Pickup is listed for $1000 OBO. My “friend” attempted to convince me to go and see it for laughs over the weekend, but I didn’t see anything funny about the quest. The only way I would ever make that trip is if I bought the vehicle for the explicit purpose of ensuring it was destroyed.

[Images: Facebook]

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51 Comments on “Is This Dodge Caravan Pickup the Worst Custom Ever Built?...”

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    Not sure why, but I love it. Sorry.

    • 0 avatar

      It doesn’t look like it was poorly done at all.

      I certainly don’t find it as awful as the author does, but I have little desire to make it mine. At worst, I’m agnostic towards it.

    • 0 avatar

      I kinda like it.

      I also kinda like the Honda Ridgeline, which is a more fully baked version of this concept. (Assuming you believe the Honda Pilot to be a minivan with swinging doors.)

      It’s a good concept. Pickup trucks are terrible all-weather vehicles (in the winter, pickups require 4WD to boldly go where FWD econoboxes have gone before), so a FWD minivan platform is pretty ideal for suburban dads like me who want a pickup truck — but don’t want to put up with the disadvantages of a real truck. My guess is that the only reason this kind of vehicle hasn’t taken off is traditionalism and machismo among pickup buyers.

      Like the minivan itself, a minivan-based pickup truck is a good practical idea that most people won’t be seen driving.

    • 0 avatar

      I like the concept too. I suppose something like a Ram ProMaster 3500 Chassis Cab would make a good FWD pickup truck with its reinforced frame. Just add a box.

  • avatar

    Awesome. I saw something like this in Europe but smaller, I think a Renault of some kind.

  • avatar

    I think something just broke in my brain.

  • avatar

    NOTICE: You are to immediately cease and desist from distributing pictures of such rabid automobile-wanna-be turd.

  • avatar

    A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.

    • 0 avatar

      Why, oh Honda Ridgeline, dost thy auntie look like a curvy Dodge Grand Caravan? Such a rapturous toaster oven from the 1990s be she!

      This repartee hath now become awkward, for I have tapped the bumpers of both thy grandmother Odysey and her sister Grand Caravan. Prithee forgive me, for the 1990s were a youthful time, and the wild indescretions thereof are not thy concern. However, o Ridgeline, the may call me grandfather if thy must!

      Forgive me, for now I must return to ferrying a bed of hot air for a suburban middle manager, who is all talk when it comes “towing his boat”.

  • avatar

    Weirdly I’m wondering if there are any drain holes in the bed.

  • avatar

    It’s the Soccer Mom version of a Land Rover Cab Forward pickup. Jeep made somethign like that as well, back in the 60s. Was a there a Ranchero version of the Greenbrier?

  • avatar

    I’ve seen it done to Aerostars, with varying degrees of success, as well as to full size vans. I have a picture on my old phone of a new (as it can be) style E-350 with a dually rear end. It was quite well done.

    If I did one (Aerostar of course), I’d start with a cargo van with the rear doors that swing to the side (instead of a hatch), that way they’d still be useful after the conversion. It would also mean there would be less interior trim to remove, and it’s likely to have vinyl seats and a rubber mat, which lends itself to a utilitarian work truck.

    Now, who wants to buy this Caratruck and deliver it to Vulpine? He’d probably trade his Ranger for it in a second.

    • 0 avatar

      How much of a difference would there be in having a minivan based truck (whatever the vehicle above is called) and a truck-based minivan used to make a truck (the Aerostar truck you mentioned)? I know there’s the frame issue, but how much else has to change?

      I’m curious.

      The Caravan trucklike object isn’t entirely objectionable. It’s not my cup of tea, but eyesores make the nice looking rigs all the more appealing.

      • 0 avatar

        Well, essentially, I’d be creating a semi-cabover pickup. It would be shorter in length than a Ranger, which I suppose would make it more maneuverable, although it’s not like the Ranger is too big to handle. I guess the idea would be to just be different.

        • 0 avatar

          You’re missing the whole idea behind the car-based Ranchero/El Camino pickup: It can NOT take the mother-in-law and kids to the store. It won’t haul much, but like a workbench in the garage, preserves his sense of manhood, but without the interruptions.

          Younger readers will have to google it, but it’s a Walter Mitty vehicle that gives a man a few precious minutes away from domesticated life to imagine he’s still single. Guys with 4-door pickups are doing it wrong, since that’s now a full sized family vehicle.

          • 0 avatar

            I get that, but its also true of any single cab pickup. And, to a similar degree, cars like a Honda CRX and Mazda MX-5 (Miata).

            The idea of the AeroTruck to me would be to have something different. Something you won’t see 6 copies of at any given Walmart.

          • 0 avatar

            “The idea of the AeroTruck to me would be to have something different. Something you won’t see 6 copies of at any given Walmart.”

            — Only six?

  • avatar

    Sadly, I’ve seen more than one Corvair pickup conversion. I don’t mean the Rampside either. One was the early model Corvair station wagon, the other was the 65-69 two door. So much work and no value to it.

  • avatar

    Well, Providence was once the “Costume Jewelry Capital of the World”, so it stands to reason that someone thought this pos was a real gem.

  • avatar

    And, I like the wing. I’m sure it’s there to lift the airflow away from the Air Dam Named Tailgate.

  • avatar

    I like it. Of course, I’m the guy that is sorely tempted to pick up a MK4 Jetta and a Smyth kit and make a pickup out of that.

    If you guys haven’t heard of Smyth, give it a Google. Look for the Smyth Charger pickup kit or Jetta pickup kit. I think they make one for an A4 also. No affiliation, just think it is a cool idea.

    They may call it a Smyth Ute now that I think about it, not a “pickup”.

  • avatar

    The concept is a good one; the size almost ideal. That doesn’t mean the execution was all that good, however. Don’t know that I could do better but that even offers enough room behind the seats to be functional for carrying my bowling bags–which is about all the room I NEED back there. And I certainly don’t need something 20+ feet long or 7+ feet tall.

  • avatar

    I think it looks great , well done. all it needs is a paint job.

  • avatar

    Good Lord, it’s Brundlefly.

  • avatar

    In response to earlier question; Yes Dodge, and I think Ford, made pickup versions of their vans in the 1960s. Some guys modded a Dodge into a drag racer. It was called the Little Red Wagon. When weight was added to the rear it would wheelie all the way down the strip. The engine and trans had been moved back several feet from stock. And a more powerful 426 Hemi replaced the original 6 cyl.

    • 0 avatar

      VW, too.

      Chevy had the Corvair Pickup, which might count, as there was also a Corvair Van and the pickup is basically “van minus some van plus bed”.

  • avatar

    It’s like yoga pants. Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.

  • avatar
    Stanley Steamer

    This is probably very close to what a Tesla pickup will look like.

  • avatar

    Not at all. At least it looks like it was built with work in mind. Somebody’s trying to sell a Checker Marathon”amino” right now that, while much better finished, has a one-foot-deep, carpeted cargo area.

  • avatar


    (Awful Taste But Great Execution)

    I actually kinda like it at some level.

  • avatar

    It looks Australian…

  • avatar

    I can dig it.

  • avatar

    Ugly, yes. But I have to say that whomever the creator was used good sense in how they managed to use most of the vehicle they cut up and repurposed those parts into the design. So an A for cleverness and efficiency, but an F for appeal.

    • 0 avatar

      Agree it looks nearly factory. I love Franken-vehicles like this because you can almost dream that at one point this design was passed around at Dodge and almost got the OK. And if you think no way… just look at the Prowler.

  • avatar

    Talk him down to $500, cage it, run it at LeMons. (Although it probably won’t pass inspection.)

  • avatar

    I’m guessing a tree fell on the minivan, and instead of repairing the roof, the owner decided to go for the Sawzall route.

    I’m surprised you can drive such a vehicle on public roads.

  • avatar

    This is no custom. This is a running 1994 Dodge Ram prototype. They wanted to make a “world truck” and sell it in Europe and Australia. They wanted to do for the truck what the Caravan did for the minivan. For better or worse, cooler heads prevailed.

  • avatar

    “Is This Dodge Caravan Pickup the Worst Custom Ever Built?”
    In the words of Yoda: no… there is another.

    Across the railroad tracks from my workplace there’s a building that has a gas station/truck stop and a Mexican restaurant duplexed under the same roof. The Mexican restaurant’s special is $5 so it’s a popular destination for going out for lunch. Whenever I’m there I almost always see a dustbuster-style Olds Silhouette with a much more homemade-looking pickup conversion in the back lot.

  • avatar

    Matt, you misspelled “best.”

    If only I had someplace to park another car.

  • avatar

    Would have been better had they left the second row of seats in with the same sized bed.

    I would rather get a Rampage than this though. At least that was engineered to be a unibody car based pickup.

  • avatar
    Carroll Prescott

    Nice Honduh Ridglinette but without the covered catbox in the bed.

  • avatar

    I think the most objectionable part of it is the way the shape and position of the rear window fights with the shape of the passenger window. It doesn’t line up at the bottom and that kills it.

    That they didn’t shave the handles and completely fill the rear cut for the sliding doors gives it a distinct MC Escher vibe.

    This cries out for Vellum Venom, dammit!

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