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Updated on Sep 07, 2012
As it was in 1976
And in the beginning GM created the VAN , and GM said it was good and named it Chevrolet.......
I ordered my van back in the middle of 75 and picked it up from the dealer in Oct. of 75, it started out like any other van coming of the GM assembly line in Lordstown Ohio back in late 1975 For a while it remained stock and empty. Then I decided it was time to do to the van what had been intended since I ordered it "CUSTOMIZE IT"
Plastics Phase, OK so I fell into the same trap so many other van owners did back then, I bought all of the quickie bolt on fiberglass accessories So in the midst of the Van Conversion craze circa 1976 came the usual store bought add-on's I could find. Wheel well flares, front spoiler, scooped hood, sun visor, Chevy emblem windows, Chevy emblem roof rack and a roof spoiler, running boards, fog lights...... and all those CB antennas 10-4 Good Buddy well it was the 70's and with songs like Convoy and the movie as well there was a truckin and CB Radio craze in the US. Anybody remember those days? So after the outside modifications came the interior, in the front an imitation brick wall with a rosewood door to the bedroom and a home stereo system with a record player an oak parquet floor, wet bar with a sink and fridge and the entire front was covered in brown teddy bear fur! in the back no windows and a side to side 6' long bed with the walls and ceiling covered in gold velour, oh boy today we would look at that and think what the hell was he thinking but back then it was a lady catcher. The back actually was very simple compared to the front. And I thought it was good, but not good enough as time will tell. By chance I joined a local van club which if any of you are old enough to remember there were at least 3 or 4 in every town that had a van. One day the club went to a custom car show at the LA Convention Center and lo and behold Custom Vans were everywhere. One in particular caught my attention "Rainbow Rider" and I said to my fellow van club members "Hey I could build something that good" of course everyone in the club said "yeah right you".... Well that's all I had to hear, and since I had just been promoted to shop manager at a custom van shop that was a dangerous thing to say. That is such can be dangerous if custom vans are your true interest AND LOVE. Dangerous to your pocket book. And dangerous to your van.
So out with the old interior and start all over again except this time no limit on expense so anything was possible. Like a tornado hitting it there was nothing left of it inside or out, "TOTO I DON'T THINK WE ARE IN KANSAS ANYMORE", nothing of the old interior was saved this was going to be a completely different beast, this time it was going to resemble an aircraft interior complete with two brushed aluminum bulkhead walls with elliptical passage ways to separate the cockpit from the middle section which would be the entertainment and passenger section and would have a built in home stereo center complete with quadraphonic reel to reel and a turntable and a tv built in to the wall, the other wall would separate the bedroom from the middle and each section had a door that would slide on a tract built into the wall and be powered by an electric motor so the doors would operate similar to the doors on the old TV Show "Star Trek". Ok but before all of that could be attempted the outside had to be done. This involved steel fabrication of a front spoiler that blended into wheel well flares that blended into running boards that blended into rear wheel well flares then tapered back into the body pic 80, next came the steel sun visor, then the modification of all the doors. This included a gull wing side door instead of the factory slider, splitting the rear door into a 'T" section similar to today's Chevy Astro Van but this was done back in 81 before Chevy even thought of it, then the front doors were split in to two pieces so the bottom section would open normally and the top would open as a gull wing.
I entrusted my van to a friend of mine Dave and said "GO WILD", the result was a show winner where ever it went.
Then came the 90's and its time for a change, so off with the old paint and interior and start all over again....... Then a drunk driver runs a red light in San Bernardino CA and here I go again and so with a new exterior I decided it was time to take it to England again in 1996.
To be continued My web site
Middle of 1976
Summer of 1977
Time to get serious 1979
The way it looked in 1979 when I thought I was done, Ha Ha.
Some more body changes and a new paint job in 1982
The final touches at my shop "Swinger Vans" in 83 before
the Truckin Magazine shoot
Truckin' Magazine cover and center feature Aug. 1983
First trip To Engalnd summer of 1986
Liverpool England, Beatles Museum
OK it's time to leave, Dec. 1986
Back in a container Spring of 1987 and on it's way to Canada then drive back
Below a new paint job in 1993
Then a drunk driver hit in 1996, SOB ran a red light and hit me
as he tried to make a right turn. I drove away all others had to be towed. Thats
the bennifit of all steel construction.
New front end under construction in the summer of 1996.
New rear end because a woman hit me in the rear after the drunk hit me, neither of them
had insurance and all were illegal who tried to sue ME!
Sitting in England again summer of 1996
RAF Spitfire Mural on the back and the Lic Plate says RAF 1940
That was for my Dad who flew one in the RAF during WWII
OK it's now 2000 and it's time to cut it up and start all over......... OMG
The old front end is off and now match a 1984 chevy van to a 1976 chevy van,
they are different under the skin.
Now the custom work begins,
The same VAN! Yes.
Appliance wire mags from the 70's 15 x 8.5 in the front and 15 x 10 in the rear
with 50 series tires.
Displaying entries 1-5 of 35
Major difference. Like how it looks now, good job
Since the van was drivable after the accident; I would have proposed to the police that you would have driven those Illegals right back to Mexico and kicked them off the van at the border....for FREE! That way you could have sued the state and the DMV for issuing them a license and reimburse you for gas and repairs.
What a fantastic history you have with your van. What a great survivor of a ride. I love the new look, but my favorite was definitely the 1982 Sci-Fi paint job. I'd put that on a wall mural in a heartbeat. Well done on keeping her going strong for all these years despite the numerous attempts from idiot drivers. If you see the video I have on my youtube channel, taken in my Ford Falcon, you will see how close I was to having someone wreck my ride like they did to yours. My tube account is the same name as this account.
I'd give you 10 stars out of 5 if I could. Keep up the good work. I would definitely say you should invest in a 360 degree in-car video recorder system, so you can prove whose fault it was if it happens again in future. More than worth the outlay.
Top notch van! 5* all the way!
wow, I remember that van, I still have that issue of Truckin. She looks sweet, the interior looks better then ever, Im a 70's guy, so Im still partial to the old skool murals, but the new paint and body look great. Really glad to see you still have the same van after so many years, not to many still do. Im an east coast vanner, vanning since 86, and prob will never stop, its in my blood. Iv met a few of your club members over the years, mostly Tom, almost every year at the Van Nationals, bring your van there some time, would love to meet an old time vanner, Check out my van on Cardomain too. and ck out vannin.com, and showtrux.
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