Vanning is a compulsion, an obsession, an occupation, an affliction, a fascination, a fate. It is not a hobby. Those who do it, must. Those who don't, think it's a waste of time. For me it is a calling.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

At one time or another , we all have said," I'd love to go back and do it all over , knowing what I know now". That would be nice but we know that isn't going to happen. RIGHT? ..... Well, I might just get the chance.., sort of. My first attempt to build a custom van was to say the least, crude. Ever since I sold it,I have wanted it back. But alas, it went to the crusher,after it was sold about 4 times. 30 years of sellers remorse has given me the desire to reproduce that van, but eliminating the mistakes I made and doing it right . The van was an early model Dodge,that I cut in half and shortened. It was a real cute truck, but I really didn't know what I was doing, or have the proper tools. Over the years I have refined it in my head. Adding ideas, changing things,and making it a little more contemporary. I definitely remember the things I screwed up. I haven't got a lot of pictures of that van,but here are the ones I can find.
My Father-in-law was trying to teach me to weld. I took out the tired slant 6 and, replaced it with a small block V8. Here ,I'm welding the motor mounts. These are pitiful photos. Maybe 4th generation copies.
No ,this is not a trick photo. The chain hoist goes through a hole in the roof that became a sun roof.
This shot in primer shows off how short it was. I still get jazzed looking at this picture. I went to my first van-in, in this van in 1975 , still in primer. The camper van was my mom's. Behind it ,is the last car I owned. A 73 gremlin. It went shortly after I started driving the van I took this picture the day I brought home this Chevy van. It was to become the Barnstormer.. I still have it.
There are a lot of things that I want to change. The porthole is of the day, but will go, as will the side pipes. Larger wheels and tires. These are 14's I think. Move the gas filler,and put it behind a door. I want to seal up the rear doors. Solid with no windows. I love that look. Tunneled tail lights..gotta have tunneled tail lights .I did that with the Flamin' Banana. This is the Flamin' Banana. a 68 Dodge van that I built in the early 80's. My first chopped van. (that's my brother) Here it is almost finished at the 13th Nats. in 1985 I've had several early Dodges over the years. I had a beater van (it would make a great rat van today.) that I got so I wouldn't have to drive the Barnstormer every day. Had a lot of fun with this van.. And believe it or not it was a trophy winner.(that's C.B. not me..)

When my brother went into the Marine Corps, he gave me his van for a couple years. I did a lot of work on it and drove it around . We called it the Rubber Biscuit. He was a Blues Brothers fan. I had Juan do a mural on the back of the "Brothers". While I was at This years Rat Fink Reunion I received a call from a friend of mine, Tom, from so. California. A guy in his van club had an early Dodge he wanted to sell. Tom thought of me. The van is a long wheel base, has a v8,and an auto trans. Exactly what I would want to reproduce my van.
These are the pics I have of the new van. It doesn't look like a lot to the untrained eye, but for a 40 year old van this is in great shape.
Look at the floor. The floor under the driver is one of the first places these vans rotted out. This van still has the factory paint on the floor . It will be nice to work on an early without having to fix a bunch of rot.Tom has the van now. Currently I am working on one of his vans. The sooner I get his done ,the sooner I can get this home. I'm excited!! Stay tuned. I will post more on this project.


Gear_Shifter said...

looks like a great project. can't wait until you start it to see pics. did all those lights really work on the bannana?

Greg "COOP" Cooper said...

very funny......

Ken Mitchroney said...

Great Post Mr Cooper!The new project looks great as well. I get the first ride once it's done.Hopefully it will be a trip to the RF Party!

Greg "COOP" Cooper said...

you know i've wanted one of these vans....i'd love to take it to the party