Van Fans Finding Wheel Love in Party Wagons

They call themselves van fans, vanners, van addicts, and vanaholics, and 30 years after the heyday of the vehicle they’re still roving the roadways of America, according to writer Ariel Brewster.

“For devotees, the hobby is about more than getting from here to there: It’s about individualism and personal freedom, whether they’re living an iterant counterculture lifestyle or parked safely in the suburbs,” she said. “Though van club membership is graying, people who were too young to partake during the 70s are discovering vans and connecting to ‘mobile culture’ through web sites.”

The first national van-in was held in 1973 with more than 1,000 vans converging in Tiger, CO, says Brewster.

The two biggest events are the February van Council of Councils and the Van Nationals, which will be in Harrisburg, VA in July, according to Brewster.

San Franciscan Tina Gordon had a dream: to turn a van into a rolling rock concert.

Her “Rambler” took rock to the city streets. It’s a 1980 Chevy box van.

“The concept behind the Rambler started six years ago during a cultural decline in San Francisco,” she says. “The rockers make it rock, the Rambler makes it roll.”

According to Gordon the metal fabricators put an angle-iron based rolling stage in there that could support a league of rock giants.

“One of the old-timers from the Visalia Van Club was telling us about the good old days and kept saying , ‘You’re just 20 years too late!'” reports Gordon. “Now I’m having dreams of a rock and roll van club, a rock and roll vanners weekend.”

In the 1970s movie “The Van” 38 vans were featured.

A low-budget film, “Super Van” was made in 1976 and over 86 vans were depicted.

“What I learned from this movie was never drive onto a moving car-crusher,” said van fan Leon Chase.

“Corvette Summer” was a flick made in 1978 starring Mark Hamill. He plays Kenny, idealistic teenage gearhead obsessed with what has to be the most kickass auto shop project ever created, says Chase.

Only two vans were showcased in this cinema.

“Rock and Roll High School,” made in 1979 featured the now-deceased band The Ramones and of course, offered up one van in the picture.

Chase recommends reading Vans: A Book of Rolling Rooms by Baron Wolman.

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