Hooniverse Weekend Edition: Was there anytime in your life that you wanted a Conversion Van?


Growing up, my automotive taste has always been a bit left of center, from wanting a 1969 Chevrolet Kingswood Estate Wagon in High School, to wanting a custom or conversion van when attending college. I actually owned neither, as I settled for a 1966 Corvair Monza Convertible, and then a 1966 Rambler American with a three-on-the-tree. Hey, that’s still a little left of center, isn’t it? Anyway, I recently completed my column for Chevy Enthusiast about a company that made Conversion Vans (You will have to wait for the issue later this month!) and I was wondering is anyone else had this desire.


In the 1960’s there was a counter revolution going on, with war protesters, the civil rights movement, and of course the free love/free dope flower children. It was this group that discovered the early Van, which could be created into anything they wanted, including a love wagon. They were cheap, easy to maintain, and could carry a commune to a Jimi Hendrix concert. The marketing geniuses at the big three tried to tie all the good times to their new Vans, with mixed success.

The Custom Van movement seemed to stall in the mid to late 70’s, only to find new life during the 80’s. The new Conversion Van builders seemed to be grouped near Elkhart Indiana, and each company added a number of styling touches to a typical Ford, Dodge, or GM Van. They included fiberglass running boards, tape stripes or graphics, quad captains chairs, a third seat that converted to a bed, mood lighting, bad wood accents, and aftermarket wheels. The sticker prices were highly inflated, only to be deeply discounted once they reached the dealers.

By the late 90’s, most of the van manufacturers went out of business. The Conversion Van was a vehicle that was poorly engineered, with haphazzard build quality, and questionable materials. It was like trying to put lipstick on a pig. However, some of the vans were quite smart, with asking prices that tend to reflect the quality materials and workmanship, but were seen as a bad investment.

But that didn’t matter, as I have always wanted one, but could never bring myself to actually buy one. My UDMobile isn’t really a conversion van, but is rather a Class “C” Motorhome, but I digress. My question to you is this: Did you ever want a Custom or Conversion Van, and did you ever come close to purchasing one? Comment Away!

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  1. Abe Avatar

    <img src="http://i44.tinypic.com/2wrn8ns.jpg&quot; alt="Dajiban USA" width="500">
    <img src="http://speedhero.wordpress.com/2010/01/13/dajiban/img_1212846_17380255_7%20/ alt=" dajiban="" width="500">
    Not a conversion van but the Stateside invasion of the Dajiban trend is tempting.

  2. s Avatar

    i havea xbox360

  3. Alff Avatar

    Along with at least one bedroom sized window, broken out and covered by duct tape and cardboard.

  4. Mark Goddard Avatar

    “Conversion vans”? Down here in Oz they’re known, among other things, as ‘Virgin Converters.’ Is that the type of conversion referred to in the name?

  5. Deartháir Avatar

    Absolutely I have!
    <img src="http://www.oldbug.com/061604%20147.jpg&quot; width="400">
    Wait… wait, no, that's not right.
    <img src="http://www.myateamvan.com/images/little_ateam.jpg&quot; width="400">
    Shit… I meant….
    <img src="http://www.inbox.co.uk/images/A_team_van.jpg&quot; width="400">
    Er… no, that should be…
    <img src="http://www.ridelust.com/wp-content/uploads/A-Team_Van.jpg&quot; width="400">
    Oh goddammit… THIS one.
    <img src="http://cache.jalopnik.com/assets/resources/2008/03/a-team-van.jpg&quot; width="400">

    1. 35mm Avatar

      I have no want for a Smart FourTwo, but oh, man do I need that one..

  6. microbuss Avatar

    actually yes I do want to do a custom one Heck there's the nuts out there in one & they painted it like the BNSF locos!
    Burlington Northern & Santa Fe Railway for you non-railfans

  7. J Stahr Avatar

    Why, yes, I actually still own my first car, which of course is a 1978 Ford Van! still drive it on sunny days when the roads are dry, over 250K miles on it….has had 5 different custom paint jobs and two different interiors, has it's third set of wheels, and I really need to upgrade the sound system….but I am having more fun flying these days in my Vans RV8 experimental plane.

  8. happypuppy Avatar

    I admit to being sixty-eight and crazy which is why I could not say no to a 1990 Ford E- 150 conversion that fell into my lap two months ago. It was dressed up by the folks at North American Coach, Edmonton Alberta and obviously has had some careing owners because she remains a cream puff. The 5L engine gives reasonable gas milage. Love stuffing a casset tape of The Eagles into that stock player and feeling young once again. This is alot of fun for fifteen hundred bucks. She is a keeper.

  9. Altone01 Avatar

    Yup. Had a 1998 Chevy Express Explorer conversion and a 2003 Dodge Ram Van Starcraft conversion. Selling them both is a regret.

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