Custom Built By A Legend? 1989 GMC Vandura

Almost as an afterthought, the seller of this custom van briefly mentions in his Craigslist ad that it was built by a “famous builder.”  Scrolling through the ad’s photos reveals three potential candidates: Jim Radoff, Steve Lippman, and famed custom-builder-turned-sculptor, the late “Yosemite” Sam Radoff.  Were all three men involved in the customization of this van?  If so this could be a collector-car whose value should continue to rise.  Currently, it’s available for $9,500 cash and is located in Lancaster, New York.

Having built bikes for Evel Knievel himself, “Yosemite” Sam Radoff passed away earlier this year leaving behind a unique and fascinating legacy as a custom painter and builder of cars and motorcycles.  For more information on Sam’s life and carer, check-out this great article written a couple of years ago by Barett Poley at bodyworxmag.com.  Over the years Sam partnered with his brother, Jimmy Radoff, on many builds and it’s Jimmy’s signature that appears on this van, along with a man named Steve Lippman.   Sam’s signature does not appear on the van but the seller posted a photo of an old “Yosemite” Sam Radoff logo in the CL ad, suggesting he was involved in the build as well.  There is a very famous photographer named Steven Lippman, as well as a filmmaker with the same name (now deceased),  but it’s uncertain if either of these men is the same Steve Lippman who was involved in this project.

The van’s customization was obviously inspired by the 1980 horror film, Prom Nite, starring Jamie Lee Curtis.  Strangely, the seller fails to mention that fact in the ad.  Back in high school, I went to the prom in my girlfriend’s Plymouth Reliant K-car!  No doubt, it would have been much cooler to show-up in this van.  But now, as a father of two girls, I must say I’d never allow my daughters to go to the prom with some kid driving a van like this!

According to the seller, the van’s custom interior comes with a full bed.  Now, do you agree with me about not letting my daughters go to the prom in this thing?  Other highlights include custom tail lights, grille, exhaust, WELD wheels, Mickey Thompson tires, wheelie bar, shaved handles, and of course, the custom flamed paint that is modestly reported by the seller to be nice, but not perfect.  The van is powered by a 350 that is paired to an automatic transmission.  Mileage isn’t listed and nothing is mentioned of any known mechanical issues or maintenance needing to be performed.  What do you think of this van?  Have any Barn Finds readers ever owned a custom bike or car built by the legendary “Flame Doctor” himself, “Yosemite” Sam Radoff?

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Comments

  1. Keith Keith

    Cool van but definitely needs a pre-purchase black light inspection…….LOL!

    Like 20
  2. John M.

    Man, talk about hammering the lid to the extreme.

    Like 5
  3. Jason Recker

    Hi guys, I have worked with Sam for years and take care of his online presence for his estate. He has made some incredible vehicles in his time but he was not involved with this vehicle. His brother Jim and Sam had split ways by this time and this paint design wasn’t his style. Sam said that all work that he’s done will have his name on it somewhere. If it doesn’t, it isn’t his. He treated these vehicles like artwork and signed as artwork. Hope that helps!

    Like 6
  4. Ian C

    The desire for this is strong! I am not a big van person, but I’d roll this one all day long.

    Like 4
  5. RH

    Big chop, great look, but can anyone other than a 17 or 18 year old high school guy be driving a van called Prom Night without getting the weird looks?

    Like 24
  6. Skorzeny

    I absolutely LOATHE chopped tops, so this is a no for me.

    Like 2
  7. moosie moosie

    The absolute best bumper sticker I ever saw on a van was one that read, “This may not be the Mayflower but your daughter came across in it”, wasnt on mine, I had a license plate frame that read, “Happiness is being single “,,,,, that was a no no to a lot of fathers .

    Like 2
  8. Jason Recker

    That’s not a Yosemite Sam van and should not be sold as that. He and his brother Jim parted ways long before that van was done. Sam signed his name to all his paintings as artwork so if his name isn’t on there, he didn’t work on it.

  9. CanuckCarGuy

    This is cool in a cartoonish way…but I’d rather have the E350 Cabriolet Dually, it’s cool and practical.

    Like 2
  10. Maverick

    Don’t leave it parked to long. Look what happened to the last famous van.

    Like 4
  11. David Ulrey

    This comment really only pertains to the daughters part. If young people are going to have sex, that’s exactly what they are going to do. Doesn’t matter if it’s in the back of a van like this or in a cramped up backseat or a blanket in the woods or motel room. The only way it can be absolutely prevented is to lock them up in a room. The law really, really, frowns on that.

    Like 2
  12. Tom Member

    IF I had 10K laying around with nothing better to do with it, I would buy it. I would like to see more like a pic of the cab and at least some kind of photo of the engine an undercarriage. There seems to be enough in the photos to justify the $9500, just want to make sure there are no major short comings elsewhere.

    Like 1
  13. Ron Z

    I am the owner of Prom Night now, was selling it cus my wife was giving me slack about it. But have rethought it and decided to keep it anyway. I’m gonna fix some of the paint cracking and keep it as close to original as I can. And I never advertised it as a “Yosemite Sam Van” I said it was painted by Sams brother Jim.

    Like 1
    • Bruce Fountain

      Really nice van… I have a chopped dodge myself and used to have a chopped Chevy… If you decide to sell please let me know

    • Jeffrey

      Do you still own this van?

  14. D.C. Nolan

    I have a 1990 Harley Davidson FXRS-SP done by Jimmy Radoff. It is great work. Don’t underestimate his skills.

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