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VIDEO: Vannin’ – The Documentary

Kamil Kaluski November 26, 2012 Hoonivercinema 14 Comments

Most of were probably not around to experience the vanning craze of the 70’s and 80’s. We could all guess how it started or we can read this brief history of vanning. There were also social and economic issues which added to the popularity of custom vans. Vanning has become so popular that soon a whole after-market world of accessories developed. Eventually full conversion companies were converting cargo vans into the most comfortable family vehicles that ever existed.

I know because we had a blue ’91 Dodge RAM B-250Hightop Explorer – 318 C.I.D. with throttle-body fuel injection. It had four captain’s chairs, a power folding sofa, a TV, and a VCP (no R, P). By that time the era of vanning was pretty much over however; the vehicles may have been there but the passion was gone.

Now there is a movie celebrating the 60s-80s life style. The movie is based on reemergence of vanning, probably by the very same people who lived it back then, now retired. Check out the trailer after the jump and the movie’s website vanninmovie.com. I would love to see the craze pick up again, just as I would love to have our ’91 Dodge back for my family over any current new so-called minivan.


  • Vehicles today need more bubble windows. And murals.

    • and shag carpet.

      "Yo Dawg, we heard you like to shag …. etc."

      • Alcology

        "so we scotch guarded your van"

      • I find the "we" disturbing…

    • vroomsocko

      And fireplaces.

  • gearz1

    Well the aquarium in a van is a new one for me.Not the fish smell though.

  • topdeadcentre

    I know it's current fashion to make fun of these overcustomized boxes on wheels. I'm ok with that.

    I'm old enough to remember these airbrushed monsters on the streets — and I loved them. "Street vans" or "custom vans", from 1970 (or so) to 1979 (or so), were on local roads, highways, on television and in magazines (car mags and otherwise), everywhere.

    Lots of vans started out as just a basic tradesman model with no windows, or windows on the cargo doors only, and everyone popped in those round bubble windows on the sides at the back (or got fancy with other window shapes, hearts, teardrops, etc), then added bits and pieces from catalogs until the sliding windows and hand-made camper interior was in. Lots of owners tuned their motors or dropped in something bigger. Finally, a paint job that would put low-riders to shame was applied, and the top of that heap was a themed airbrush job, and that's what made my seven-year-old heart go pitter-pat. Wizards and unicorns, planets and spaceships, native american stuff, auto or motorcycle racing, rock and roll, the theme was important.

    Sadly, the wild customs of the seventies gave way to the beige or gray commercial "conversion" vans of the 80s, which themselves mostly gave way to the oversized SUV's of the 90's. Blech. Give me a sin bin with a "Lord of the Rings" mural any day.

    • danleym

      I'll never own one unless I win some ridiculous lotto jackpot, there's just a bunch of other things I'd rather spend my money on.

      That said, I think they're pretty cool when I see one. They're different, and a little goofy. I can definitely appreciate them.

      I've see a few issues of some old van specific magazine from the seventies. They're pretty cool to page through- partly to see build pictures of some of these vans, and partly because of the 70s advertising that was groovy enough to begin with but is now being targeted to an even more groovy segment of the population. The result is far out, dude.

  • njhoon

    I remember these vans, my brother had a mild one and to me it was the bee knees ( I was in 4th grade). I see 'Vannin' coming back, little by little, a mention here and there. I don't think it will be back in all its mural glory but something more sedate though.

  • vroomsocko

    It's like my childhood CARtoons mags came to life. Frank Frazetta murals FTW!
    <img src="http://images.comiccollectorlive.com/covers/406/406180de-d48b-43bd-84f8-05c3c7cdd07b.jpg&quot; width="300">

    Official Vannin' Soundtrack:
    <img src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_N3HIxE531v4/TL9VqF29idI/AAAAAAAAAFw/ApZa_JlRkUk/s1600/kingoftheroadcover.jpg&quot; width="300">

  • gearz1

    The versatile Van,useful in so many ways. Deliver furniture- overnight camper- road cruiser- more value per dollar .

  • Van_Sarockin

    You had to be there, man.


    I was there in the 70's man!! Vans were outta sight – totally bitchin! Our family had at least half a dozen custom vans in it, mostly Ford Falcons/flat-nose Econolines and Dodge A100/108s, including a rare 8-door we used to jump our BMX bikes through. Really good times man…

    This is why "Brownie, the World's Greatest Crappy old RV" ™ has a disco ball, shag carpeting and a genuine vintage Superior 500 walnut-grip steering wheel. Still working on the flares, sidepipes and murals…

    Sure, the hardcore vanning folks don't take me very seriously (no RVs allowed!) but that's ok, I don't take them all that seriously either. And the chicks used to be a LOT hotter. (tube tops baby!)

    <img src="https://sphotos-a.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-prn1/22038_1326059156104_8253438_n.jpg"&gt;

  • Jeff MacIntosh

    My first ride was a repossessed Dodge Tradesman B300, one ton. Windows in the back doors only. Bought it at age 16 and put 1,000 miles on it in the driveway till I got my license. Pop and I "upgraded" it with Panelling, shag carpet (mix and match sample squares from a buddies' dad's carpet store), ice box, porthole windows, hand crank operated roof vent, etc. the thing was a bitch to steer at low speeds, no power steering.
    I've been looking for years for another but I think all of the one ton versions got crushed.