I am going to begin a new feature here I call "Van of the Week". Each week I will showcase some of my favorite vans of today, years ago, survivors, and ones that are gone forever.
The first one is one of my most favorite vans ever, (two vans actually!) and it definitely fits into the category of 'survivor'. It is called "Tradewinds" and is owned by a vanner in the Netherlands, who I have not had the pleasure to meet, but have talked to online and is good person dedicated to keeping these works of art alive.
The coolest thing about this van (besides the incredible paint...which I will get into) is the fact that it was built with a matching trailer, and after all these years the two were not only shipped overseas, but remained intact! This is virtually unheard of, and in my opinion, makes it that much more of a treasure.
Tradewinds, a 1976 Dodge, was built in Pennsylvania at Bob's Van Shop. I was painted by one of the most famous and award winning muralists of the day, Harold Harnish. Harold, who painted many award winning vans, usually did his work outdoors in a dirt driveway, and believe it or not most of it was done with a brush! I had the pleasure of seeing another of his creations this summer, and as an artist I was blown away by the detail and love put into it.
Harolds murals typically were full wraparounds and often times extended up on to the roof. One of the unique things about this particular van/trailer combo is the mural continues from the end of the van onto the trailer, but on both pieces they also do a wrap.The amount of detail put into the paint is amazing. The whale above is on the rear corner of the trailer, and the dolphins below are on the front driver side fender of the van.
The shipwreck is on the trailer in front of the wheel arch on the driver side.
The portrait on the back of the van is Bob, the former owner of Bob's Van Shop. I believe this van was originally built for him in his shop to use as a promotional tool at shows and truck-ins in the late 70's. A lot of the award winning vans came from his shop, thanks in part to the incredible talents of Harold Harnish and the crew at the shop who did the mods on the bodies, and finished off the interiors. The van itself has many modifications, some subtle, some not so much. They include custom taillights, solid rear end (no doors) tube bumpers, quad headlight setup, Charger side marker lights on the front, tube grille, full flare/spoiler kit w/ aluminum running boards, and a rear wing to name a few!
The trailer also has a few mods done to it including solid rear, custom tail lights, and a gullwing side door. Also one of my personal favorite touches, in the mural on the trailer, what appears to be clouds are actually maps of the different continents of the world. Nice touch!
To see more of Ronnie's incredible van, check out his cardomain site at http://www.cardomain.com/ride/2213932/1