The Rule of 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.
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.
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”?
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.