That last time vans – not minivans, real 'man vans' – were cool for carrying anything other than cargo or clandestine operatives, the public didn't know what the Internet was, "Daisy Duke" referred to a character and not her jean shorts, and BA Baracus was pitying fools once a week on national television.

But don't tell that to the Vandoleros, a Los Angeles-based brotherhood of the van that lavishes the same attentions on Sixties and Seventies tall metal boxes from Chevrolet, Ford and Dodge that we're used to seeing from Porschephiles and vintage car owners. Members discovered their van love early, back in a time when a guy in a van could roll down the street in your neighborhood honking his horn and a horde of kids would climb in and be taken to the drive-in... then be returned home safely. We'd love to find a place in America where this is still practiced.

While we begin our search, you can watch the boys in the van gang in the video below – just be forewarned, there is quite a bit of foul language.



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  • 26 Comments
      icemilkcoffee
      • 10 Months Ago
      The short-wheel-based full sized van is probably the most versatile vehicle you could own. Take out the back seats and you could haul sheets of 4x8 lying flat on the floor- just like a full sized long bed truck. And unlike a pickup truck it is weather proof and theft proof. It doubles as a mobile, locking storage shed. It's great for camping. And in a pinch, you could live there if you find yourself homeless. You can't do that with an RV because people would call the cops on you. But a van is inconspicuous enough that you wouldn't draw any attention to yourself.
        Shiftright
        • 10 Months Ago
        @icemilkcoffee
        Agreed. I built tons of custom van model kits when I was a kid. I have a Honda Element in my fleet currently, and although I can't haul 4x8 sheets in there, it does have a ton of interior room and I've hauled sleep sofas in it. I can sleep in it stretched out, which is great for car camping, and with the high belt line and factory dark tinted widows it's a discreet shaggin wagon too. It's sorta like the 2000' s Japanese take on american van culture.
          lostjr123
          • 10 Months Ago
          @Shiftright
          Speaking of the Japanese, they do scaled down replicas of these. http://www.carscoops.com/2008/04/japanese-mini-cars-replicating-1970s.html
      john96xlt
      • 10 Months Ago
      I had a '71 Tradesman 200 with a 318, automatic, no side windows, wood paneling inside, shag carpet, the works. I didn't buy it because I like custom vans, I bought it because it was $500 and ran well and could tow, which is what I needed it for. It drank like a sailor on shore leave and since the fuel gauge didn't work, it left me walking a couple of times. Still, it was a neat thing, I almost wish I'd kept it but I sold it when I moved rather than trying to drive it 3,000 miles to my new home.
      tsktsk3
      • 10 Months Ago
      I kinda love these things--particularly the bed in the back at around 2:55. In truth though, my parents bought a van that was one of the first commercial conversions in 1978. It had a table with benches that made into a bed in the back and it had an icebox and a pump sink. I loved it. I've looked for a modern update but current conversion vans mostly look tacky and aren't nearly as functional. They have nice big flat screen monitors, but the rear bench folds down into something that is not very comfortable as a bed, and such vans have bifurcated--either they are full class B's with a shower and toilet or they have nothing. I'd love to have a "normal" conversion that also included a fridge and microwave and even a small sink, but I don't need a generator, shower, full stove, toilet, etc. i.e. it could still be a daily driver. This is the closest I've found, but the conversion part is not as nice as I'd prefer and it was super expensive (http://www.roadtrek.com/n6_active.aspx). The second closest was the 2003 VW Europan with the weekender package--but it had only a tiny underseat icebox.
      Jaybird248
      • 10 Months Ago
      Oh yeah, also had a big "Keep on Truckin'" decal in the back window.
      mbukukanyau
      • 10 Months Ago
      Guys having a great time!! Yeah!!
      Jaybird248
      • 10 Months Ago
      We had a screamin' yellow '71 ChevyVan10 that we converted to an RV. Really saw the USA in that thing. But I did make one big mistake in buiding it. I put the propane tank inside and when our stove, mounted just above, caught fire, the whole van nearly blew sky-high. Eventually I crashed it, fixed it, sold it. Now, and especially with hotel prices where they are, I miss it.
      eye.surgeon
      • 10 Months Ago
      Nice looking crowd. I have fond memories of the old-school custom vans, we had a family vacation van in the early 80s that was super comfortable to drive. Those types of vans were then sold on the used market to child molesters and the near-homeless. And then those guys sold them to the guys in this video.
      redssstew
      • 10 Months Ago
      So Freakin Awesome! HILLARIOUS
      JamesJ
      • 10 Months Ago
      My grandma's neighbor has a 60's GMC Handivan sitting in their driveway. It used to be hidden in the garage for several years.
      carguy1701
      • 10 Months Ago
      I'll just leave this here... http://omgpancakes.wordpress.com/2010/01/12/dajiban/
        d.hollywood
        • 10 Months Ago
        @carguy1701
        Oh...wow. They are doing the most.Now I'm really interested in finding a beater to resto-mod.
      Jake S
      • 10 Months Ago
      I had a neighbor named Ben who had an orange van back in the late-70s/early-80s that had these airbrushed birds on each side panel (a cockatoo and a macaw, if I remember correctly). He was this short chubby guy Vietnam vet who had a thing for Elvis and worked for a tractor company. I used to hang out with his kid. One day, he took us to to the lake in his van so we could go swimming. After he parked it, this teenager walked by, laughing, \'Nice birds, man.\" Ben grabbed the closest stick he could find and broke it over the kid\'s head, screaming, \"Don\'t make fun of my fking birds you little piece of $h!t!!!\" Relizing what he\'d done, he threw us back in the van and we drove straight home. No, we didn\'t get to go for a swim. It was a good thing most people didn\'t have access to cellphones back then. Eventually, old Ben conned half the neighbors out of thousands of dollars to facilitate his gambling habit. He claimed he was going to lose the house and the family would be out on the street. I knew there was something else going on and tried to warn my old man, but he wouldn\'t listen. I told him, \"Dude, he could live in that awesome van you love to look at so much.\" He owned the van and a Porsche 924 that he could barely fit in. Vandoleros, huh? Yeah, it figures.
      Koenigsegg
      • 10 Months Ago
      ya pedo vans are still popular amongst a small group of people... if i can call them that, also ice cream trucks need an update, lookin like the creep mobile with the broken ass music playing up and down the street bet they got record players insider and the needle is falling off scraping the edge of the record LOL
        john96xlt
        • 10 Months Ago
        @Koenigsegg
        I was waiting to see who'd be immature enough to try to make these guys out to be pedophiles because they drive vans, and you won the prize. congratulations, asshat.
        mbukukanyau
        • 10 Months Ago
        @Koenigsegg
        That is Tesla you are referring to right?
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