Having been witness to the awesomely widespread personal customization of the Classic Van scene, I wonder how that could be transferred to todays new model buyers. I am sorry, I just don't see a cult-like customizing culture sprouting up around any new van models for sale today. (Pimp My Honda Oddyssey just doesn't have a good ring to it...)I say the best demographic a manufacturer should target would be the Gen-Y audience, which has already shown a desire for customization what with the success of the Scion and Mini brands. What we need now is a manufacturer to come out with a NEW van with a slew of factory and dealer customizable options. The Scion XB, while small, was boxy and still a huge hit with young people. So why wouldn't a bigger, square Scion van work? Or should it be some other manufacturer to tackle this. I personally think the custom van scene is a fascinating and under-exposed world to most young people. I think a new fresh entry might change all that. What do you think? What kind of van would it need to be a "real" van?
I've given up hope that we'll see the big 3 produce the type of van you mention.The Astro/Safari was a great van that captured the imagination of many and there was actually a mini revival thanks to it for a number of years. There were a few companies like Stillen, Wings West, California Customs, Mirage, Xenon ... producing turn key custom vans, body kits and wings for them for a while but then that seemed to dry up in the early 2000's. With this mini revival we saw vans back in the magazines thanks to the support of the above mentioned suppliers. If GM could not make money off of these vans there is little hope that they would be at all interested in building another. GM has made some errors in judgment with other niche vehicles like the Aztec, the SSR and I have a feeling they gave up on the HHR Panel even before the first one hit the showroom floor. The vans that are getting the most attention from customizers and long time van enthusiasts are the earlier pre 1970 vans and the mid Chevy vans 1970-1978. There will likely be a big buzz when Greg Coddington rolls out the early Ford Econo panel at SEMA that he built for American Racing. Foose customized a mid Chevy on Overhaulin' and had another one ready to go when I was at his shop in March. Hot Rod has a project mid Chevy also. To be our best hope is to find these old diamonds in the rough to be restored.
****************************************Vannin.com staff, showtrux.com/paneltruck.com webmasterMember Van Azur, ACVQ, OFV, National Truck-In Board support staff and occasional contributor to this fine magazine going back to 1982.
I agree with virtual. I doubt that the big three will be building anything like what you describe. Personally I would rather spend the rest of my life eating fresh cow manure than drive any import vehicle except for the 21 window VW bus that is. The early Fords, Dodges and Chevies are the most popular vans today. Just look at readers rides on this site and you will see a lot of these earlies. I think if one or more of the big three were to build a safe forward control van a lot of people would buy them but that is not likely to happen.
Mike CookVice PresidentInland Vans Berdoo2008 Route 66 Hall of Fame Inductee
I don't think the issue is of anyone buildin a new van. I feel the biggest issue is that there are not enough customs in the public eye. The new Gen-Y buyers you mention are into what their peers are into. They need to be shown what can be done with a van. The biggest issue after that is you cannot buy a custom van. You have to build one. There are neerly NO off the shelf bolt on items for vans today. The only way is to build it yourself or buy conversion van parts, and then you just have a home made conversion van.
I'd like to see someone do a chop-top Sprinter. Those things are just way too tall. I drove one, and they actually don't drive that bad.
esanchez:I'd like to see someone do a chop-top Sprinter. Those things are just way too tall. I drove one, and they actually don't drive that bad.Got the $$$ I'll do it.
I have driven a "Sprinter" too, but I wouldn't say they exactly sprint from stoplight to stoplight. Maybe if they put one of Mercedes more advanced diesels in there. (Not likely after the DaimlerChrysler split.) I would put their new V8 CDI motor that is going in the S-Class (not a lightweight car in itself) with 320 hp and 538 lb. ft of torque (all available down loaw at 2,000 rpm!) I wouldn't care if I looked like a UPS driver then!
Balboa, funny you should say that. As soon as I heard about MB's V-8 turbodiesel, the first thing I thought was "That would be a great engine swap into the Sprinter." Okay, so they won't threated a C6 Vette or a Porsche 911, but I was actually pretty surprised by the relative pep of the 5-banger (at the time.) The new ones have a V-6 diesel. A chop-top Sprinter with the V-8 diesel swap would be one hot van!
A good example of cool newer vans are the Dodge Caravan, and the Honda Odysey featured in Truckin' last year, or the year before. But really most of them are uninspiering.I do love the 60's and 70's vans though. I'd love to get an old Ford Econo Pick Up. And as for a dodge with a V8 diesel swap, there is a guy down the road with a late 70's Dodge van with olds 350 diesel in it, it's pretty sweet.
If the Cummins wasn't such a huge lump, it'd make a good swap into the Ram Van. Of course, you'd have a ridiculously large "dog house" with the Cummins, but hey, it's worth a shot, right?
Belive it or not, the doghouse only needs to be slightly modified. There was a 72 or 73 Dodge just a week or so ago for sale 'online'. It was made 4x4 with the Cummins straight 6 in it. It looked tight, but the guy said he only hadt to slightly modify the doghouse to fit it.
It would be super cool having a '72 - '79 (I believe) mid-Dodge with a Hemi...Or for that matter, a '94-97 Ram Van with a Hemi. Use a cool Challenger/Cuda/Road-Runner paint-scheme and you're in business!
----- Mathieu -----"Electric Avenue", my '79 Ford.
Superbeast:Belive it or not, the doghouse only needs to be slightly modified. There was a 72 or 73 Dodge just a week or so ago for sale 'online'. It was made 4x4 with the Cummins straight 6 in it. It looked tight, but the guy said he only hadt to slightly modify the doghouse to fit it.Aw man! That'd be one sweet van! It'd be interesting to see what he did to get the Cummins to fit.
Got a buddy that is planning to do this to a mid Dodge Van. He is looking for a van to use now. He already has the 4x4 diesel truck
Definitely let us know when that swap is done! It'd be worth a feature, if not in Truckin' maybe in our sister pub Diesel Power.