Anyone old enough to have grown up during the early 1970s remembers the popularity of custom vans. The trend was so popular, that it spurred a series of vansploitation movies like “The Van”, “SuperVan”, and “CB Hustlers”.
The formula usually went one of two ways: buy your basic, stripped down van, usually a Ford Econoline, Dodge Tradesman, or Chevy G-Series, take it home, and break out your tools. Add some sort of structural substrate, lay out your chosen interior accoutrements, such as a couch, cabinets, refrigerator, waterbed, wet bar, or whatever else would float your boat, and cover the rest in outrageous carpet or crushed velvet. Airbrush some kind of wild mural on the outside, like a giant Viking saving a scantily-clad maiden from a dragon. Or something.
Those who wanted a turn-key custom solution could find one by an aftermarket company, like our feature 1974 Ford Econoline short wheelbase custom Terrapin Van by Turtle Top. Miraculously, this Econoline conversion has covered fewer than nine hundred miles from new.
The exterior is glossy black with airbrushed stenciled flame stripes down the sides, across the hood and back doors, and massive murals on either side. There are the requisite round porthole windows at the upper rear of either side. Cragar oval slot mags wear raised white letter radials, and spent gasses exit through chrome side pipes. Chrome bumpers and stainless trim look brand new. Everything is absolutely rust free, likely one of the few 1970s Econolines that can make the claim. An appropriate “Keep On Truckin'” license plate is affixed to the lower corner of the grille.
Swing open any of the Ford Econoline’s doors, and you will be overwhelmed with the black and light gray shag that screams mint chocolate chip ice cream. The shag covers the floor, walls, and ceiling. Front bucket armrest seats, the only real seats in the van, are swathed in black and white houndstooth cloth edged in black vinyl.
The odometer shows just 874 miles from new. Fitted in the dash is a Motorola AM/FM 8-Track player with an in-dash speaker. The engine doghouse, covered in shag, separates the bucket seats. In the passenger side footwell is the heater, operated by controls mounted on the unit itself.
Just behind this Ford Ecolonine’s driver seat is a small cabinet housing a refrigerator, with twin wrought-iron spindles and red, white, and blue globes. Just aft of the cabinet is the sofa/bed, also covered in the two-tone shag. Sheer black curtains cover the porthole windows. Double barn doors provide access from the back of the van.
Powering the Ford Econoline is the original, numbers-matching 302 cubic inch V8. Very little is visible from the front of the Econoline, thanks to a truncated engine compartment and short hood. Most of the engine is accessed from the doghouse inside the van. What can be seen appears to be factory fresh.
This exceptional slice of 1970s Americana is being offered by Classic Auto Mall for $69,500.