EVENT: Cars and Crafts June 2019

Cars and Crafts has been one of our favorite shows since they started the monthly summer series. Their June 2019 show was no different, the quality of cars, the quality of the crowd and the location, were all batting 100. It seems all too often that an excellent show series exists for maybe a season or two then disappears, either they grow too big or the crew dissolves. It’s clear to see that Drive Cartel has no plans to go anywhere but up and their crew has the talent to take their shows as far as a show can go.

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Cars and Crafts has been one of our favorite shows since they started the monthly summer series. Their June 2019 show was no different, the quality of cars, the quality of the crowd and the location, were all batting 100. It seems all too often that an excellent show series exists for maybe a season or two then disappears, either they grow too big or the crew dissolves. It’s clear to see that Drive Cartel has no plans to go anywhere but up and their crew has the talent to take their shows as far as a show can go.

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The only issue is that as the show went on, people began to taper off and Drive Cartel had to scramble to fill holes in the lot. Of course this wasn’t something that Drive Cartel could have planned for and they handled it really well. If this show was held at a massive location, like Canterbury, it wouldn’t be as much of an issue because 5-10 cars leaving out of 200 cars really isn’t a big deal, at a show of 40 cars or so, then it is suddenly 25% of the show that has left. Drive Cartel does a wonderful job of replenishing cars but they can only plan for so much. There ends up being half a dozen spots open in the show while cars like this S13 are still rolling into spectator parking.

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There were tons of cars that could have used those spots and many of them did. In a brief stroll to get my tripod, I spotted a really well built TRD kitted T230 Celica, Wa Lee’s unbelievable CE1 Accord, just about every Evo 8-9 in the state and probably the coolest E110 Corolla I’ve ever seen in my life. Most of these cars weren’t perfect but some were totally worthy of sitting in the main show and, although Drive Cartel was able to track down a few of the owners, most of these just sat in spectator parking until the end of the show.

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With the exception of people leaving so early, the show was excellent. Somehow Drive Cartel is able to get unique cars to come out of the woodwork, the regulars were there but there were also some builds I had never even seen. Those regulars to the Cars and Craft series had some pretty noticeable improvements as well. That’s the unique thing about the midwest versus places like the west coast, we get these massive changes to cars where as in California, you might see a different lip, then a different set of wheels and it just seems like watching paint dry.

Tony Yang EF1

A perfect example of this is Tony Yang, one of the admins over at the MNEF club, who has one of my favorite cars in Minnesota. His EF sedan build has been a slow build over the last few seasons, but I honestly prefer that over these cars that are assembled over a winter, come out and kill it for one or maybe two seasons before disappearing off the face of the Earth. For 2019 Tony has added clear tails, a paint matched center garnish and some really mean Work Meister S1 2-piece wheels that really set his car over the top. Maybe a 5 speed swap with a B17, or something goofy like that, will be next.

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Brian Jannusch of Top Rank, another Drive Cartel regular, brought out his latest R32 GT-R for sale. A rare halogen headlamp equipped model with an R34 engine swap. The R34 RB26DETT may put out the same amount of power as the R32’s original RB26DETT did, but it does so in a much more reliable and consistent manner. More importantly, it was equipped with a set of hyper rare TE37 wheels with a rose gold finish, naturally Jana lost her mind when she saw this. With what seems like half of the R32 GTRs ever made already in the United States, unique variants like this are what is needed to set the cars apart.

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This EG Civic was one of my favorite builds on this chassis in Minnesota in a while. It’s a simple build as it takes the standard Honda formula with a gutted interior, JDM bits and an engine swap but it puts them together into an excellent package. EGs used to be swarm meets like mosquitoes in Minnesota but after 30 years of rust and theft, what were once thought disposable are now fetching nearly the price they were sold for when new. It is good to see them at shows though, there hasn’t been a subcompact that nailed it this well since the 96-00 generation Civic was discontinued.

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Speaking of cool subcompacts, this Leyland Mini Clubman was a great example of one of the rarest Mini variants. Complete with Lucas electronics and the 1969 facelifted front end, I couldn’t help but fall in love with the little car. These cars are a rabbit hole of interesting variants, maybe we will talk about them in a future article.

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There were a lot more American cars in show this time than usual, a couple of donk Camaros and Mustangs were in the show for its entirety. The coolest American car, and likely coolest car outright, wasn’t even a car, rather it was this Dodge Lil’ Red Express truck. Fun fact, this was actually the fastest American vehicle from 0-100 MPH when it was for sale in 1978. Dodge took the muscle car formula and put it into a truck since there was an emissions loophole that didn’t force catalytic converters and EGR systems onto trucks back then.

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Keeping on the topic of fast American cars, this Grand National was at the show. It looks like just about every Grand National ever made but this one used to be one of the quicker street cars back in the day, I’m glad to see that it’s still around. Of course here at Carbitrage we would never condone street racing, but if a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?

S30 V81

Last year I spotted this S30 at Cars and Crafts but I wasn’t able to get any reasonable pictures of it due to a consistent 14 person mob around it. I usually hate V8 swapped S30s but the Mad Max bug catcher, twin carb setup and HUGE old school roots supercharger make this look like something that could have been in that first Mad Max movie, which is shorthand for absolutely positively rad. It also has that 70s muscle car rake to it with raised letter tires on some steel oval track wheels which really drive the whole look of the build home.

Blakes NA Miata BRG2

Blake Hummelgard’s Miata came out with a few small improvements this year, it didn’t really need anything except he finally got a color matched hardtop. This car is a great example of how to build a Miata. It’s purposeful but with enough flare that it doesn’t blend in with the other 1,000,000 Miatas on the road.

BMW2002

This SR20 swapped BMW 2002 has been around for a few years now, it’s cool to see it shows catering more to the import community. It seems like for the first few years, the only place that I would see it was at muscle car shows like Street Nationals at the State Fair Grounds. The 2002 is up there for one of my favorite European chassis of all time.

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John Krueger and his husband Patrick now have twin Miatas, while Patrick has a Rocket Bunny widebody on his, John is rocking a seriously cool old school Bomex kit. John and Patrick have always built some really cool cars and I’m excited to see this Miata as John builds it. Part of me wishes we could fast forward like 5 years until early 2000s bodykits make a full comeback but I also want to start perusing Craigslist to find still intact kits and start hording them for when they go up in value.

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This VIP Lexus GS400 doesn’t have the best picture ever taken, I have to apologize for that, but when I first saw it during the daytime I didn’t think it had anything fresh done to it. Then at night, I took a closer look and noticed that I was sorely mistaken.

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Look at that headliner! LED lights embedded in the headliner to look like a night sky. Usually I think VIP cars are a bit much and yet all too cookie cutter at the same time, then I see something like this and have to throw my hands in the air and say that I was wrong. I wonder if this is based off any actual night sky star map, where is Neil DeGrasse Tyson when I need him?

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Drive Cartel continues to have the best shows in the state of Minnesota, everything they manage to produce is world class quality and could compete with anything you find in California, Chicago or down south. If you haven’t had a chance to go to Cars and Crafts, you’re missing out, check out the next show July 6th at Saint Paul Brewing.

 

 

The Big 3: Hot Hatches of the 1980s #BTT80s

In this new series we compare three cars from the major automobile producing continents America, Asia and Europe. Sometimes it feels like these three nations can only excel in one field or another but this is proof that everyone can make great cars if they put their minds to them.

The Big 3 1980s hot hatches

In this new series we compare three cars from the major automobile producing continents America, Asia and Europe. Sometimes it feels like these three nations can only excel in one field or another but this is proof that everyone can make great cars if they put their minds to them.

The Hot Hatch is a car that appeals to almost everyone regardless of economic privilege. Everyone from Jeremy Clarkson to the vaping teen down the street wants or owns one. The plucky nature of a car designed to scoot through downtown traffic but is fitted with a big engine and stiff springs is a lure hard to ignore by anyone with a pulse, and with good reason too. These cars caught their stride in the 1980s and, with Back to the 80’s just around the corner, we want to explore the best that each continent had to offer during the era. Here are our Big 3 Hot Hatches of the 1980s.

America: Dodge Omni GLHS

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After committing harder than anyone else to muscle cars right as the oil crisis and strict emissions standards came into existance, Chrysler Corporation found themselves suddenly with a lineup of big hairy V8s that were slower, less economical and less reliable than its import competitors. Chrysler’s first solution to the sudden unpopularity of large V8 engines was to sell Mitsubishi’s compact cars under their name. While their captive import program got people through the door to the salesfloor, it did nothing to further develop Chrysler’s branding. Tiring of selling captive imported Mitsubishis on their showfloor, Chrysler changed directions and worked to develop their own subcompact car, called the Omni for Dodge or the Horizon if you got the Plymouth.

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After an extremely roundabout development program, the Omni was ready for production by 1977. The car was a modified version of the Simca-Talbot Horizon, a brand owned by Chrysler for the European market. Soon after the Omni/Horizon went on sale, Chrysler found itself bankrupt from their issues years earlier, sold off Simca to Peugeot and had it’s first government bailout. Lee Iococca, who was looking for a way to save Chrysler, saw promise in small cars and let the American Dodge Omni/Plymouth Horizon live on while he spearheaded development of the K-car. The Omni’s chassis, called the L-Body, did stave off the debt collectors long enough for the K-Car to go on release.

“I wanted to take the plug-ugliest little box Chrysler made, and turn it into something that could whip a Ferrari or a Porsche, at a price the average guy can afford – the guy making $20,000 or $25,000, with a wife and couple of kids.” – Carroll Shelby

At the same time that Chrysler was having their debt crisis, Carol Shelby and Ford were having a crisis themselves while in a trademark dispute over the Cobra name. Once Chrysler was stabilized Lee Iococca wanted to breathe some life into the Omni platform, he approached Shelby and asked him to make a hot Omni. In an interview with the Los Angeles Times in 1987, Shelby was quoted as having said “I wanted to take the plug-ugliest little box Chrysler made, and turn it into something that could whip a Ferrari or a Porsche, at a price the average guy can afford – the guy making $20,000 or $25,000, with a wife and couple of kids.”

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What did Shelby do? He took the “plug-ugliest little box Chrysler made” and then did some simple hot rodding tricks and tuned it up to 110 HP. Frankly, I should note that I object and I think the Omni has one of the best hot hatch designs ever. The car was called the Dodge Omni GLH, which at face valve us a reasonable name likely meaning GL trim and H for high output. That’s not what it meant though, it literally meant Goes Like Hell. Soon after the release of the GLH in 1984, Carroll wanted more and he got his hands on a Garrett AiResearch turbocharger. Then he did the unthinkable in 1985, bolted the AiResearch turbo onto that Chrysler 2.2L engine and at 7.2 PSI it made 146 HP.

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In the right hands, the 146 HP Dodge Omni GLH certainly could whip a Ferrari or a Porsche but Shelby wasn’t done. Two years later, by 1987, he released the GLHS. Again, not meaning GLH-Shelby but meaning “Goes Like Hell S‘more.” 175 HP at 12 PSI of boost with a full frontal front mount intercooler gave the car the power to set a 0-60 at 6.7 seconds, on 1980s tire technology. That was enough to keep up with a Ferrari 308 and a Porsche 911 Cabriolet.

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Shelby certainly had done his job and he also unleashed himself on just about every Chrysler product during the 80s. Not only did the Omni GLH bring Chrysler back from the malaise but it set up their future with cars like the Dodge Spirit R/T, Plymouth CSX and of course the SRT-4.

Asia: 3rd Generation Honda Civic Si/CRX Si

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While the Dodge Omni brought back straight line performance on a budget, which were the hallmarks of the muscle car era, it was Honda that really became a cult classic. It wasn’t an immediate thing though, it wasn’t because the manufacturer gave all of the best tuning shops in the world dollar cars and said have at it, it was a much slower burn. The Honda Civic Si caught it’s traction as the hand-me-down car, parents bought them for first cars and gave them to their children, who then created this whole culture around them.

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Of course this wasn’t by accident, Honda’s roots were firmly planted in two fields, reliability and performance. This all happened because the Civic was just that great of a little car. After the war, Honda helped get Japan on its feet with reliable little motorcycles, they were pretty good too since they won the Isle of Man TT in 1961. So when Honda made their first actual car, naturally it was a cheap little, reliable sports car, the S500. Eventually they came to America and started to make subcompacts during the malaise, the car was the Honda Civic.

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By the 1980s the Civic was a mainstay in American culture and after some experiments with the slightly spritely Civic S and the cute gas-mizer the CRX, Honda dropped a bomb on us. The Honda CRX Si, and later, the Civic Si. When it released in 1986 the CRX Si had sporty figures not seen in years. As Chris Hoffman from Japanese Nostalgic Car likes to point out, the original CRX Si had an infatuation with the number 91. It had 91 hp, 91 lb-ft, 1491 cc displacement (91 Cubic Inches), a 9.1 second 0-60 time and weighed 1900 lbs.

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All together this made for a very sporty car. It was able to feel fun and spritely, while getting 35 MPG in the city. It did it reliably too, which even to date, is a rare thing to find. In America, the gears started turning once kids began to find out that these cars had deep racing roots to them and extensive catalogs of performance parts from Japan available. By the early 90’s, the car to own was a modified Honda Civic. The tuner bug spread like wildfire but it was little known that, the bug had already invaded other parts of the globe.

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In Japan, Honda had been doing a Civic One Make race since the 1970s, creating endless inspiration for boy racers then in 1985 Honda tuner Spoon, won its class in Super Taikyu touring car racing, and was even able to beat half the field of cars above it. The bug America had caught in the 90s, had already hit Japan in full force by the mid-80s. Companies like Mugen, Spoon, Junction Produce and others were able to create figurative rocket ships out of the humble Civic Si. The Japanese highways would see the Civic become the favored platform of the Loop Tribe racers, or Kanjozoku. The nimbleness and zippy nature of the cars felt right at home.

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This hotted up little econobox created it’s own cult following, for people in America, it felt like it came from nowhere. For those in the know though, they saw this coming, they knew it was in Honda’s DNA to make something great. Since 1986, the Civic Si has been a mainstay in American hot hatch performance.

Europe: Mk2 Volkswagen Golf GTI

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The Honda Civic Si is a wonderful little hot hatch, and so is the Dodge Omni, but none of those would have ever existed if it wasn’t for the Germans. Much like the old proverb “the germans invented the car, the french perfected it and the Japanese made it reliable,” the original hot hatch was the Volkswagen Golf GTI. The original GTI, planned for 5000 units, was a run away success with total sales of 462000 units. To change such a perfect recipe is not only playing with fire, but playing with fire next to a leaky propane tank.

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How does one improve on such a great design? Leave it alone as much as possible. You refine the rough bits, up the options and make deadly sure that you don’t upset the product’s balance. With the curb weight only increasing around 100 lbs between the final year of the Mk1 and the first year of the Mk2 GTI, the car felt 96.3% as sprightly as the original one did, but it did so with a level of refinement that was just right for a hot hatch. If that wasn’t enough, the car also dropped it’s drag coefficient by 8% so it would actually perform better over the original model at high speeds.

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Volkswagen’s gamble on updating the Golf paid off, the car continued to top sales and best of lists around the world, even when everyone else was getting into the “GTI” market. That term right there, “GTI Market,” might be the greatest boon to the GTI, it created it’s own market. It wasn’t the first fast subcompact but the GTI was a watershed car and after it came out, competitors came out of the woodwork. Some even took the name; Suzuki, Dacia, Citroen, Peugeot, Mitsubishi, Nissan. Nearly everyone used the GTI moniker at some point.

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Regardless of who used it, the name GTI stuck with Volkswagen. Whenever it seemed like the imitators were beginning to keep up, the GTI kept getting better. After existing for the first half of it’s life with the original 8 valve engine, the Mk2 GTI received it’s first major engine upgrade, A 16 valve DOHC 1.8L engine. It replaced the old 8 valve and it came with a power bump from 110 HP to a massive 137 HP. The 8.9 second 0-60 time of the old hat 8 valve was slashed down to 8.3 seconds, faster than a Porsche 944.

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There is a very strong argument to be made that the Mk2 GTI is the peak of the Volkswagen GTI’s lineage. It perfected what the Mk1 started and perfected it. It was more comfortable, faster and kept it’s looks. It did all of this, yet, it didn’t lose it’s direct feel that the newer models have struggled with. Regardless of how the later cars stack up against the Mk2, the formula has stayed true since there is word that the GTI is going to outlive the Golf.

VANNING IS BACK: CHARIOTS OF THE GODS 2018

Sidepipes, mag wheels and murals of wizards were once the hallmarks of the ultimate vehicular form of self expression of the 1970s and ’80s. This summer, on the hottest day of August, we explored this subculture at the Chariots of the Gods Custom Van and Vintage Camper Show at Vinyl-Lux Upholstery.

Brown G10

Sidepipes, mag wheels and murals of wizards were once the hallmarks of the ultimate vehicular form of self expression of the 1970s and ’80s. While the vanning craze of the malaise era eventually fell into obscurity, around the world the culture carried on. In Japan you can find custom vans ranging from wild bosozoku builds to even track built vans, Europe has a subset of van culture as well and Brazil, well let’s just say the Volkswagen Type 2 stayed in production until 2013 for a reason. Meanwhile in America, if we fast forward 35 years from when van culture left off, we began to see some millennials seeking adventure rediscovering what they called “#vanlife” and traveling the country while working remotely. Over the course the last few years the stigma of the clapped-out ex-plumber owned Chevy G20 “Rape Van”  began to dissolve as a rediscovery of classic vanning bubbled to the surface of pop culture.

Bill Jaap Van Collection

This summer, on the hottest day of August, we explored this subculture at the Chariots of the Gods Custom Van and Vintage Camper Show at Vinyl-Lux Upholstery. We started our journey accompanying Bill Jaap from Good Carma caravaning his personal fleet of Volkswagen vans to the show. The fleet included a water-cooled Vanagon Westfalia, and a pair of Type 2 bay window vans in Riviera and Westfalia form. Good Carma is a shop that specializes in Volkswagen, Audi and Subaru repair and is one of only a handful of shops in the midwest that are well versed with Volkswagen aircooled and waterboxer engines.

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Once at the show the vans were parked with tops up with the exception of the Riviera which was clad with a well suited surfboard. There was even a Volkswagen themed game of cornhole was set out as well. Even Jordan from Van Go, came by the Good Carma camp to join in the fun.

Mellow Yellow

Second to the Americans, Volkswagen’s offerings were the most prevalent. This wasn’t a coincidence though because, in the hands of hippies during the 1960’s the Type 2 became the catalyst to what would become American van culture. While the American vans fell out of favor with the general public, the classic aircooled Volkswagen van has always been one of the most iconic cult classic vehicles and have only become more sought after now that vanning is becoming popular again.

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As we’ve stated on the podcast, the Vanagon is one of the most popular Volkswagen vans and can be very desirable if you can come across a properly cared for example. It’s just modernized enough to be a viable roadtrip vehicle on American highways but isn’t so modernized that it loses the allure of the classic Type 2. While the original Vanagon was aircooled, there are diesel and watercooled variants as well so take your pick. This van shown above is a watercooled version kitted out with larger steel wheels from GoWesty and a Fiamma awning for a superior camping experience. Note the swing away cooler in the rear of the van, likely from GoWesty as well.

TC Vans G20

Once we worked up the courage to exit the functional air conditioning of the Vanagon we began to walk around. The vast majority of the vans in show were the American full sized vans you typically equate with American vanning culture. Something made in the 70’s or 80’s by The Big 3 modified in period style. This is not without precedent since the Twin City Vans club has been around since the 1970s, which makes them a strong contender for oldest car club in Minnesota, along with the MSRA.

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With a number of long time members still rocking 70s era vans, the newer members have plenty of guidance. The shocking thing about this show is the amount of well preserved vans, even modern builds follow the preservation of the original style largely. This Orange Dodge Tradesman looks the part with its Cragar wheels, body kit, sun visor and mural. In fact there are matching murals on each side.

While the driver side mural features the van venturing into the sunset, the passenger side shows the van coming out through a mountain pass. Creative paint work like this is rarely seen these days on builds. Before anyone asks, no that is not a vinyl wrap or anything, it’s an actual airbrush work which is even more impressive.

Orange Dodge Interior

Wood covered walls, a solid sound system and a tucked and buttoned velvet roof with matching seat cushions make this Orange tradesman a bad ass mobile living room. These vans come from an era when you didn’t build your car for instagram likes, then move onto the next project, your van was your form of self expression.

Etheral Goat Van

The van was your Instagram page, people saw it and they saw what you were about. Did you like Rush? Why not paint the 2112 album cover on the side. Was Dungeons & Dragons your thing? Then you had better deck out that van with couches and a table with a dice tower built in it. A van was a mobile living room for anything you could think of, from adventuring through the world, to tailgating at concerts and everything in between. Many of these had couches, beds, TVs, CB Radios and everything, sometimes even including the kitchen sink.

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Frankly the interiors of these vans are more important than the exteriors. While it’s cool to look at them, you spend your time inside of it rather than the outside. They’re made to be used. While the Orange van had an excellent interior, some were even more wild. There was a brown Dodge van with a shag interior that was honestly more comfortable looking than my own house. Note the stained glass sconces in the corners and the rotating captains chairs.

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The table in the back looked infinitely comfy to chill out at. The lighting in the van is also something to behold with a swivel spotlight in the cabin and mood lighting throughout. The interior of this exudes the 1970s from the color palate to the shag carpet on everything.

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I believe this van was an original van from back in the 1970s but was either restored or perfectly preserved. The porthole window in the back was one of dozens of styles you could get from circles to hearts and I’m not even kidding but that footprint gas pedal shape was an option as well.

Barn Find Van

Nate Van Hofwegen, the showrunner of Chariots of the Gods, picked up this 1974 Dodge Tradesman from the original owner who received it from his parents as a high school graduation gift. They had purchased it new in 1974 and had it modified before giving it to their son, this may go down as one of the coolest graduation gifts of all time. The mural, by Bruce White, is quite well preserved for it’s age and we can all be happy that this van is in good hands with Nate.

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If you’ve noticed there was an abundance of Mopar vans being featured, that was true, there were a lot of Dodge B series vans. While it was the last brand to the van party, they were ready to embrace the trend offering a plethora of engines ranging from 225 slant-6 to the 440 Magnum V8 and options of manual or automatic transmissions.  After muscle cars were strangled with emissions devices, the rules weren’t as strict for trucks and vans so Dodge started to put their performance engines into those platforms. They had a line called the “Adult Toys” line most famously making the Lil Red Express and Midnight Express trucks, but they also featured a trim level of the B series called the Street Van. In the mid-1970’s this van had it all with options for custom interior patterns, chrome wheels, porthole windows and an official owner’s club called the “Dodge Van Clan.”

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It wasn’t just Dodge that offered factory custom vans. This more modestly built Chevrolet G20 was a very well preserved example of an upscale trim of the first face lift the third generation G series van. The third generation G series van, much like the Dodge B series, embraced van culture and from 1973-1977 offered an extensive catalog of customization options with shag interior and even side pipes from the factory. GM had a deal where a company called Van-Tastic supplied custom accessories through their dealerships. Later on it’s lifespan the G series would become famous for becoming the A-Team van.

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Although there were factory supported custom vans, seeing just how wild people could get when they put their minds to it shows just what you can do with these American vans as a platform. This green Dodge van caught my eye from across the show with it’s gullwing door, custom interior and body kit. This van really had it all, the vertically mounted window between the gullwing door and front door is just an additional added touch that set this van apart too.

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Although the third generation Chevy G series vans were the most iconic GM vans, there was a single second generation G series van that was in show. While it was unique because of it’s model, it also had the best name of any van in the show.

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It’s name was the Road Toad. Maybe I’m the only one that finds that name immensely entertaining. What I think we can all appreciate though is that excellent work they did with the stained glass rear windows. I really wish we still gave our cars such excellent names publicly.

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The G series wasn’t GM’s first foray into the van segment however. That honor would have to go to the Corvair based Greenbriar van. This was the most unique domestic van in show with more in common with the Volkswagen Type 2s than anything else due to it’s aircooled flat 6 engine. The modifications to this van were minor but with the tinted high beams, mag 5-spoke wheels and custom antenna, it looked like it had driven out from the background of a Steve McQueen movie.

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Today, if you’re trying to find a classic American van, the Econoline is likely your best bet to find. These stayed in production until 2014 with a direct timeline that didn’t end until the English Transit van took over it’s position. It wasn’t a fall from grace like the other brands either because the Transit is one kick ass vehicle. The classic Econoline however, has a place in the hearts of FoMoCo loving van aficionados everywhere though. The third generation Econoline was unique in that it was the only full size van until the 90s to use a body on frame construction, in lieu of a monocoque design. While the lack of a monocoque made it’s cargo floor taller in comparison to the other domestic vans, it likely added to the longevity of the van because it was more modular for fleet use. That being said, a slightly higher floor has in no way stopped vanners from doing what they do.

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The fourth generation Econoline remained largely unchanged from 1991 until 2014. Existing completely beyond the vanning craze, these have largely been ignored but they can be just as solid of a platform as any other van. This late model Econoline was one of a handful at Chariots of the Gods and was definitely the most eye catching. That mural was hand painted as well, it’s amazing how much these can transform.

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Although hand painted murals were king at the show, there was a place for vinyl wraps as well. This Dodge Tradesman had one of the best vinyl wraps I’ve ever seen at any show, not just van shows either. Although too wild for some, I think this van was a good example of blending classic and modern.

Outside of classic American vans and offerings from Volkswagen, there was a sole Japanese offering, in form of a Mitsubishi Delica. If there was ever to be a single van to represent Japanese vans, the Delica would certainly be on the shortlist. Mitsubishi has historically had a penchant for offroading so of course the Delica would come with 4WD, lifted suspension and knobbly tires from the factory. Mitsubishi’s other penchant in the 80’s/90’s was for technology, so feeding into that, the Delica is loaded to the gills with the tech of the era including an ice box for keeping drinks chilled, front and rear climate control and plenty of other gadgets for trekking through the wilderness. Of course I would be remiss to not mention the four sunroofs you get as well.

Stretch Tandem van Side

From mild to wild, domestic or import, new or old, Chariots of the Gods celebrated everything that makes vanning great. The popularity of custom vans is growing despite the hiatus they took in the American car culture’s eye. Chariots of the Gods also keeps an open mind to other styles of van culture as well, so if it’s a Mystery Machine Econoline or a Van Kulture VIP-style Sienna, all are welcome at this show. So far every year that we’ve been to Chariots of the Gods it has been growing and we look forward to being there next year.

MOTORCULT EPISODE 39 IS LIVE

On this episode of MotorCult Berger gets hassled by the police, Volkswagen discovers colors, the World Cup of Cars continues and we talk about the wheels on the Miami Vice Testarossa…

On this episode of the MotorCult podcast we start off with Berger’s story of getting hassled by a police officer, who turns out to be a very nice person. Ryan, Jana and Berger discuss if he was actually that nice though.

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Berger gives us a preview of Monterey Car Week when he went a week early. Despite being unintentional, he says the days before Car Week are a must see. Berger for possibly the first time, mentions a pre-war car not prompted by Ryan when he describes a Locomobile he saw at Laguna Seca. We prime the audience about what Ryan and Jana will be up to while they’re out there.
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In news Ryan covers an incredible barn find story, Brabus makes a 125 HP Smart FourTwo and Bugatti unveils their DiVo.Volkswagen makes cars with colors after the astonishing discovery that people like choices. They expand the color catalog of the Golf R from 3 to 43!

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Our Interesting Engineering topic is metric tire sizes, why they existed in the first place and why they went away.

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We come to the World Cup of Cars semi-finals with France battling it out against Iran and Japan taking on Sweden for a chance to compete in the final match of the World Cup of Cars.

To listen to the latest episode of MotorCult click the link below!

MotorCult Episode 39

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