Early Model Vans - The Missing Link
We know custom late-model trucks and SUVs have become the most popular of all custom vehicle categories. Just attend the SEMA Show and you will notice the overwhelming numbers of late-model trucks and SUVs. Even the early model custom truck's popularity has escalated greatly. What will be the next trend? Let's gaze into the crystal ball.
After experiencing a memory flashback a few months ago, I expressed my thoughts and intentions to Rick Finn, an automotive artist, and automotive rendering artist icon Steve Stanford. Their instant throttle response hit the rev limiter. Even when I shared my thoughts with my boss, Steve Warner, Truckin's editor, his reaction was two thumbs up. What is going to be the next trend? Vans - fullsize, short wheelbase, windowless, domestic vans, both early and late models.
I feel that early and late-model custom sport vans are the missing link of the custom truck world. Since the disappearance of the very popular van movement of the '70s, they vanished just like the dinosaurs. There are still some die-hard van enthusiasts who have survived the 25-year privation. Everyone I talk to about this dilemma agrees. Vans were cool and they can support a comeback. Everyone I spoke with knew of an old abandoned van either in a driveway, yard, or field, like the early model trucks before they became popular.
Recently, curiosity inspired me to go on the prowl to stalk some current early model vans. Without having to turn over too many rocks, I discovered a couple of well-preserved vans. Their owners were all involved in vans during the glory days of the '70s and couldn't resist getting back into the groove. We are not seeing the old hippy vans with porthole side-windows, funky lace tablecloths, stenciled paint schemes, massive side murals, and cosmic names spelled out in gold leaf. Their interiors featured Liberace chandeliers, disco balls, upholstered Elvis velvet loveseats, and beds with paneled liquor cabinets. The entertainment consisted of a Muntz Blue Light 4/8-track tape deck player plumbed through a reverb.
Today's sport vans will take on a more subtle profile with an airbag suspension, 18-inch-plus wheel and tire combos, which will lay those long van rockers in the weeds, shaved body skin, front grille headlight and taillight treatments with simple paint schemes, one- and two-tone paintjobs, metalflakes, flames, and ghost flames seem to be the present trend.
They are out there, and we have captured a few on film. These rare dinosaurs roamed the planet some 30 years ago. I sense another newstalgia trend coming on.