Perusing the local online listings can sometimes turn up some unintended gems. Most enthusiasts of small, cheap foreign sportscars don’t go hunting for conversion vans, but the wilds of the internet allow exposure to vehicles you might not ordinarily find in the local car club listings. And so it is that we come across a couple of not-interesting-yet-interesting items – a 1970s kustom van and a converted Malaise-era Chevrolet Malibu wagon. Neither is a particularly inspiring drive in its original state, and perhaps remains so in its current state, but both manage to pique at least momentary interest from enthusiasts. To start, let’s take a look at this 1977 Dodge Tradesman for sale for $1200 in Sumner, WA.
From the turbine wheels to the dark green metallic paint – under which is perhaps an airbrushed mural featuring sexist cliches – this is a classic 1970s van, but the true masterstroke is the kustom bubble window in the shape of a female symbol. What does it mean? “Come in, ladies?” “Ladies only?” “Feminist kustom?” Confusing as it may be, the van has definitely moved along from being a come-on to looking like it’s mobile housing for a sexual offender. The seller bought this as a project, but strangely enough, says his neighbors don’t support his vision of restoring a kustom.
And with the bags of cocaine in the back, you have to wonder why. Seen charitably, it’s a blank canvas, with needs like brake bleeding, turn signal repairs, body damage including a broken hinge pin on the side door, and other bumps and bruises. But if you have the vision, it’s on the popular Dodge platform and has some great features that make it a good foundation for a restoration to recall a brief period of enthusiasm for modifying an otherwise mundane vehicle. But if something’s too creepy for you about this van, how about a station wagon with the rear windows blanked out? Let’s take a look at this 1980 Chevrolet Malibu sedan delivery for sale for $2000 in Skagit County, WA.
The conversion looks pretty neatly done from the outside, and includes Cragar Street Pro wheels with white letter tires. At $2000, the car comes with a TH350 transmission, but no engine, and it’s not clear what happened to the unit that was in the car. This body sure looks cool, and is a blank canvas for some kind of 1980s business – how about computer and fax machine repair? Outward visibility is another question, but what car enthusiast hasn’t made sacrifices in the name of style?
The interior is in great condition, down to a crack free dash and dark red seats that look to be from a contemporary Camaro. Carpet and cloth are not consistent with the vision of a utilitarian wagon, but then again, it’s a custom. The interior features a SunPro tachometer, Panasonic CD player, custom speaker boxes in the rear, but no mention of air conditioning. It’s a fairly ordinary interior, but does not need any excuses for its condition.
And the rear looks pretty good, if original, right down to the rear bench seat. Presumably the front seats flip forward, giving you the option of flipping up the back seats and seating 5 people. Most such conversions don’t look nicely finished like this, so it’s a pleasure to see how the seller has wrapped this project up before moving it along. But wait, what about the engine? Well, if you have another $1000 to spare, there’s a freshly rebuilt 350 on offer. Put the two together, add some pseudo-period graphics, and you should have a fun, attention getting parts hauler.