Rock’n’Roll on Wheels: The 1970’s Custom Van Craze

The Rule of 1970s Custom Vans


~ 1970s Custom Vans

Once upon a time, or more accurately, back in the 1970s, the custom van reigned supreme. Riding in on the heels of the fading muscle car era, the customized van became the ultimate self-expression vehicle– tricked-out and personalized to show the world just how you rolled. They were badass, man. They were a portable pad that allowed you to take your extracurricular activities (legal or Lotharios) on the road. And there were custom shops on every corner that would customize your ride with a kick-ass sound system, lighting, shag carpeting, captain’s chairs, beds, bubble windows, louvered blinds, spoilers, mag wheels, CB radios, custom horns– all topped off with a one-off airbrushed paint job depicting your choice of Wizard, Warlock, Wave, or Western scenic. I think it’s time for a comeback, folks.

1970s Dodge Custom Van

Groovy Couple with their 1970s Custom Van

1970s Custom Van ad~ 1970s Custom Van Window Accessories1970s Custom Van ~ Airbrushed Star Wars ScenicBikini Model ~ 1970s Custom Vans 1977 Ford Pinto Cruising Wagon and Ford Cruising Van

New for 1977 was the “Cruising Wagon” option for the Ford Pinto. It featured bold graphics and a small circular rear side window. It was part of Ford’s “Free Wheeling” program to attract young buyers, as was the optioned “Cruising Van” in the background.

1970s Custom Van ~ Sunset Scene 1970s Custom Van ~ Sun Chaser ModelRed, White and Blue Custom Dodge Van 1970s Custom Van 1970s Custom Van ~ Spirit of America 1970s Custom Vans ~ Ricky Riches Customization 1970s Custom Van ~ Project Van III 1970s Custom Vans Recording Studio Interior1970s Custom Van ~ Zilinsky's Canadian Machine 1970s Custom Van ~ Airbrushed Horse and Desert Scenic ~ 1970s Custom Vans 1970s Ford Custom Van ~ Blowin' in the Wind 1970s Custom Van~ Airbrushed Desert Scene 1970s Custom Van ~ Cool Blue1970s VW Custom Van ~ Very Green Vee Dub1970s Custom Van Shag Interior ~ 1970s Custom Vans1970s Dodge Custom Van Bubble Window ~ 1970s Custom Vans
~ 1970s Custom Van with chrome mag wheels

1970s Ford Custom Van~ Surfers As

This Ford ad was shot by the famed surf photographer LeRoy Grannis. Pretty rad. I wonder if it had any influence on the Spicoli character from “Fast Times at Ridgemont High”?

Spicoli Fast Times at Ridgemont High

Spicoli Fast Times at Ridgemont High ~ 1970s Custom VansSpicoli Fast Times at Ridgemont High Cheech & Chong Up in Smoke 1970s Custom VanChain Steering Wheel ~ 1970s Custom Vans1970s-custom-van-airbrush-paint-job-beauty-queen-dorothy-stratten

This handsome kneeling knight is Ron Bergsma from Universal Olympic Gym, one of the “Macho Man” contestants at the World of Wheels Custom Car Show, August 16th, 1978.

More interesting, the lovely damsel wielding the sword is Dorothy Hoogstraten, a.k.a Dorothy Stratten. Almost exactly a year later, her life changed when she became Playboy’s Playmate of the Month for August 1979 and Playmate of the Year in 1980.

Even more interesting, the photo was taken by Paul Snider who married Dorothy in June of 1979, and then shot and killed her in August 1980.

Article originally posted by Jon Patrick at The Selvedge Yard
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