Dodge’s Adult Toy: 1978 Dodge Street Van

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This van isn’t the wildest of the era, but it has to be one of the nicest ones left over from the 1970s van craze. The 1978 Dodge Tradesman Street Van seen here is in Wilmington, Delaware and it’s listed on eBay with a current bid of less than $4,000 and three days left on the auction. Get those skin-tight polyester pants out of the closet, trim up that burly mustache and put a bid in on this thing! Thanks to Charles H. for tracking down this disco-era party van!

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What an era. Raise your hands if any of you either had a van in the 1970s or you wanted a van in the 1970s? Ha, I knew it! I had a succession of four Dodge vans from 1980 up until 1992, I loved these things; still do. Dodge had a hit on its hands with these factory custom vans, they called them Street Vans and they were a part of Dodge’s “Adult Toy” collection. Please, for the love of Mike, do not Google that term, you will not find vans. I don’t know what Dodge was thinking; thankfully there wasn’t really a public internet back then or they probably would have changed it to something else.

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This van is “original”, but as is often the case, it has been repainted, so it’s almost original. The seller says that the van had a repaint this past year and although the owner was insistent that be exactly like it would have been when new, it somehow turned out lighter. I’m guessing the green part is lighter, you can’t get much lighter than white.

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I would watch out for rust on this van, even though the underside looks amazingly solid with just surface rust. I know from experience that these things rust like crazy in the rockers and the bottoms of the doors. I had one totally restored with all new metal in the rockers, door bottoms, etc., and of course, on the drive home I hit a deer. Sigh.. But, I digress. If you watch this video on YouTube of this van, you can see rust on the bottom of the driver’s door. I would be worried that the fresh paint may be hiding something, but I could be wrong. Why they didn’t paint the bottoms of the doors is beyond me. The interior of this van looks great, almost like new. I bought a “paneling kit” for my ’74 Dodge van that consisted of paper templates that you would lay out on paneling and cut it out for a perfect fit. Add insulation and fasten the paneling on with screws and you were lookin’ sharp! Some shag carpet and a couple of compartments over the wheels for a seat and a bed and you were in business. I mean, for.. like camping and stuff..

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This is the famous 318 engine that’s crammed in there, it’s probably my favorite Chrysler product V8. Just because the only other Chrysler V8 that I’ve ever had was a 360 in a ’76 Dodge Ramcharger and it was thee worst vehicle that I’ve ever owned, up until my wife got a new Mini Cooper in 2011, and that far exceeded the Ramcharger in worst’ness.. Supposedly everything works on this van, even the AC; although it could use a recharge. This looks like a great van, these have to be one of the next hot things in the collector market. Almost everything else is rising in value like crazy, once these classic 1970s vans start showing up on TV auctions the bubble will start for the factory custom van craze all over again. I’d love to get one of these Dodge vans again, have you ever owned a custom van like this?

Fast Finds

Comments

  1. Dean Beckman

    I’ve always wondered where all the Dodge Street Vans and 70s era Customs went, up till this past year I had never seen one surface.
    I drove a 69 Ford Van to High School in Fort Wayne, and a gal I dated , Lynn, had a Old 60s era Dodge Van, how cool is that?
    Glad to see this one and I hope we start seeing many more.

    Like 2
  2. Jubjub

    I am skeptical of this being a Street Van. Doesn’t even have the door badges. The Street Vans I’ve seen had a funky floor shifter. And those wheels, the uninspired graphics and the post custom van era bay windows. Yuck. But…it is straight and solid looking. Get some slots or turbines and add about three more tones of green to the stripes.

  3. boxdin

    The door trim says Tradesman 200, not Street Van metal casting or decals as it should. Also a specific vin code should be shown. This van is unique in that its the last yr of the short nose and the first year of the new dashboard.
    Street Vans came with either AT or a A831 (?) “3 sp w overdrive’

    Like 1
  4. MeepMeep

    Not a Street Van. Aftermarket panel windows, and not sure whats up with the cab seats, and of course the paint scheme. Looks to be a well engineered conversion though.

  5. jim s

    as noted above back when you could still get a manual transmission if you wanted it. if the reserve is not much higher this van would be a nice daily driver. great find.

  6. Marvin

    Paint…there are so many classic car sellers out there that just pull something in and spray with color and stick a $30K price tag on ’em. Anytime I see ‘new paint’ I have to question the decision….Personally, I would rather get it with crappy paint so I wouldn’t have to pay the inflated price just because it looked good.

    Like 1
  7. larry k

    I had one. Brand new 73 B100 with 318 cid. Built it into a camper and drove a 6000 mile loop from CT to San Diego and back. That was 1974. Best time of my life

  8. boxdin

    Amen. I did much the same.

  9. Rspcharger Rspcharger

    From what the interwebs are telling me, there doesn’t seem to be an identifier for the “Street Van” in the VIN, but the first 3 digits designates that its a B200 Tradesman. On the equipment list one should see a YH3 to designate the Street Van, which is doesn’t have.

  10. Tom S.

    Re: “Get those skin-tight polyester pants out of the closet.”

    I recall 1978 being more about elephant bell bottoms and platform shoes, especially for the shag van crowd. Or was I behind the fashion curve even then?

  11. John b

    Very well written piece- kudos Scotty G!

  12. Jeff Stewart

    I’m also skeptical of the claims here. While it does certainly seem to be a solid van, the windows are not correct for the era, neither are the wheels.

  13. Jim

    Street Van it ain’t, it’s missing the unique items from Dodge. I’m shocked at the lack of prep and overspray, my favorite is the two-tone door jams! The interior looks period but I don’t ever remember a plain off white with bright green graphics, usually the paint was over the top with metallics, candy, multi-colors on top of the base paint. Not a bad van or price so far, don’t promote it as something it isn’t. Bad business.

  14. Keith

    I’m of the firm belief that vans will be the next “thing”, along with the (getting hot) wagon market. They will still be a notch below trucks, though. Will we see $100k Tradesman vans at BJ? Meh, probably not. But vans do have some things going for them: currently cheap, relatively plentiful, most had larger displacement engines than their car counterparts. They also don’t seem to have the “p.u.” factor that cars of the era have (Mustang IIs, Monzas, even ‘Vettes from the era which are mercilessly dogged by the purists). Am I currently buying vans? I am. Along with wagons and short bed trucks.

  15. Bob Pierce

    Prior to getting out of the Army in late 73, I ordered a 1974 conversion van thru the PX and had it waiting for me stateside. It was a 1974 Dodge B100 conversion van. The color was Plum Crazy, with white bucket seats and shag carpet thru out the rear of the van with 2 porthole windows. I thought it was a “street van” but dodge says they did not offer the street van until 1976. I remember my van was offered in three colors, black, yellow, and purple. It was a factory conversion. Can someone help me out as to if this was a street van. Thanks

    • boxdin

      There were no factory conversions until the Ford Cruzin Van, but never the less many conversions were done by approx 5000 van converters all over the nation. My co built vans for most new car dealers in abq and more all over the state.

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