Mr. T’s Tandem Van Found And Rescued!

Serious fans of the A-Team will pity the fool who thinks this Van is the one used in the show. While it’s painted in a similar paint scheme, the extra set of wheels in the back instantly gives away that it isn’t the Vandura from the show. It does have a tie to the A-Team though, as it was commissioned and built for Mr. T! Reader Joe P had been on the hunt for this van after a photo surfaced online of it sitting in a parking lot, but he couldn’t pinpoint its location. That was until recently!

From Joe P – A lot of people, without reading the story, will automatically say it’s not The A-Team van which is correct, but it was a van Laurence Tureaud (Mr. T) had commissioned built by Tandem coaches in California. The Van was found in Ford Heights, Illinois. I had seen photos of it in the past someone captured, but to no avail on the location. Over the summer, someone else spotted it and posted another photo of it online in a storage lot with no indication of location or phone number.

I did eventually find it on Google Earth and contacted a local used car dealer down the road to see if he had any information on the building, but he was not able to help.

As it turns out a friend of mine, Jon C, was able to locate the owner and purchase the truck. Being from Chicago he had the hometown advantage. I called him and expressed my interest in the van, but at that time he wasn’t sure he wanted to let it go. But after the summer we talked it over and came up with a deal.

Apparently, the previous owner passed away and it was donated to a charity. Then sold, but lingered in that storage lot until Jon found it. I’ve been trying to reach out to Mr. Tureaud, as I’d like him to sign the glove box door!

I’m currently looking for a donor van now for parts. I intend to get it back into shape and back on the road!

So, Mr. T, if you happen to be reading this, Joe would love to hear from you! It looks like fixing this Van back up is going to be a ton of work, but it will be one cool project. Hopefully, he keeps us posted as it gets it back into tip-top shape.

If you’ve found a cool project with some special history, please send us an email, leave a comment or message us via Facebook about it!

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Comments

  1. Bryan W Cohn

    Looks like a straightforward restoration. Raid a carpet warehouse for 17 acres of bright red shag, clean and repaint the tubular front bumper, fix and paint the flares/running boards and van itself and tune it up with a major service to the engine and trans as either a 318 or 340 and Torqflight are tough units. The only hard part looks to be T-Top seals truthfully and I am sure those are common T-Tops from something in era so the seals are probably from the same car as the T-Tops. Cool find, old TV cars are hilarious and fun.

    7
    • Joe G

      I seriously passed that van at least two hundred times over over the years and it’s caught my attention every single time great find congrats

      4
    • AJ Mancabelli

      Please find the ambulance from Mother, Jugs and Speed

      1
  2. Tom Member

    Ford Heights, IL, rough neighborhood. Not far from me. Very cool find. Can’t believe it stayed in this nice of condition parked in basically an abandoned yard.

    11
    • Sam61

      Ford Heights is VERY Rough…driven through on the way to the LKQ yard for parts.

      Funny that a misidentified Mr T Vandura is a knockoff Dodge located in Ford Heights.

      1
  3. leiniedude leiniedude Member

    Pity the fool is right.

    4
  4. UK Paul

    Would be interesting to see the restoration progress.

    4
    • UK Paul

      A Team was great memory of childhood.

      2
  5. bull

    At least this somewhat famous van will not be the focus of court proceedings like the “Wild Cherry” van!

    I also like vans.

    Have 2 myself!

    3
  6. Mountainwoodie

    Man, a lot of velour died to outfit that van. What interests me is how it ended up in Illinois unless Mr T took it there. Wasn’t a big fan of the A team but I can appreciate a fan’s desire to have the van becuase Mr T had it built.. It is pretty unique.

    4
    • Kman

      Mr. T lived in Lake Forest, Illinois. The great tree massacre.

      4
      • James Sterrey

        Lost any respect/interest I had for Mr To when I read about that.

  7. Mike Astringer

    I too am in NJ. I hope to see you driving it around or at a show when it’s done.

    1
  8. Rspcharger

    Mr. T’s Tandem T-Top! Now that’s some serious customization.

    2
  9. G.W.Gilmore

    So the stripe that looks pink was probadly red I hope? Cause Mr. T. I believe wouldn’t have wanted any part of it if it was a pink striped van??? Unless he was the fool????

  10. Marko

    Cool vehicle with a story behind it.
    Only problem with this type of vehicle, with a tandem axle conversion, is in most places, you need a different drivers license, for trucks with 3 or more axles. An ordinary operators permit, will not cut the mustard, just because it is a regular size vehicle. This is why you don’t see a lot of motorhome / RV’s with a tag axle.
    Average Joe isn’t licensed to operate tham.

    2
    • Rustowner

      I’ve had a CDL for 28 years, a NY state HD vehicle inspector license, and have been involved in the auto and trucking industry (both driving and repairing) for several decades (in a few different states). I have never ever heard of anything that states you must have a different class of license if the vehicle has more than 3 axles. Do you have any evidence to verify that? Are you talking about a specific state or country? What license would you need? The need for a CDL is primarily dictated by the weight class and usage of the vehicle, not the number of axles. I know of a few 3/4 ton or better trucks in my area that have non rectractable tag axles behind the drive axle and they have had no issues driving or registering them. As for RV’s there are plenty of pusher units out there with tag axles. Once you get into larger class A units, tags become more common. In some states a CDL isn’t necessary to operate a RV, regardless of the number of axles. I’d love to see some info on your statement as it’s something that I have never heard of.

      12
      • Marko

        Rustowner,

        I am in Alberta, Canada.
        A Class 5 drivers license, is a regular license, and lets you drive anything with 2 axles maximum. (used to be up to a maximum of 12,750 kilograms) A Class 3 license is required for anything with three or more axles, and a “Q” endorsement is required if the vehicle has air-brakes. With a Class 3 license, you can pull a trailer of any size and axle count, as long as it has electric brakes. If it is air brakes, you need a Class 1 license, or what is referred to as a CDL south of the border.
        https://www.registriesplus.ca/drivers/drivers-licence-classes/

        When I got my Class 3 permit, back in 1983, you needed it to drive a single axle farm truck with a GVRW weight exceeding 12.750kg. I believe they moved the weight limit up to 13.500kg in the late 1980’s.

        Under our provincial road rules, this van has 3 axles, therefore requires a class 3 permit.
        I understand that in some states (tTexas for example), pulling a large fifth wheel RV with a heavy one ton dually pickup truck, with a combined GVRW exceeding 26001 lbs requires a CDL. One of those things where rules vary state to state.

        4
      • Rustowner

        Marko, thanks for the info. I had no idea the licensing rules were so different north of our borders. I appreciate the explanation. Down here a CDL A allows you to drive a semi or heavy combination (truck and trailer) , a B is for straight trucks 26001 lbs on up, no limitations on axles (at least not in the states I’ve been in). Happy Holidays and thanks for schooling me!

        4
  11. Jeff

    Mr. T grew up in Chicago, his family still lives there, most likely the reason why the T-Van ended up back in his hometown.

    Before T became famous he was a bouncer on Rush Street, pity the fool that messed with him.

    3
  12. Coventrycat

    Don’t give me no jibber jabber fool, the van is cool. Go to YouTube and search “Mr T Snickers” ads for a good laugh.

    2
  13. Clipperskipper

    For those interested in the whereabouts of the original Vandura, it was spotted recently in Hendrick Motorsports hangar in Concord, NC.

    2
  14. ba barrackers

    Don’t let that distract you from the fact that In 1972, a crack commando unit was sent to prison by a military court for a crime they didn’t commit. These men promptly escaped from a maximum security stockade to the Los Angeles underground. Today, still wanted by the government they survive as soldiers of fortune. If you have a problem, if no one else can help, and if you can find them….maybe you can hire The A-Team.

    8
  15. Jeff

    True T lived in Lake Forest, Illinois after he made it as an actor however he was raised on the South Side were many of his family still reside.

    1
  16. James Hart

    In Alberta Canada that vehicle would need a class 3 license due to it having three axles

  17. stillrunners

    Cool…fool…

  18. Terry

    Daughters still live in Chicago, he lived in Lake Forrest. Van was used in Part when he was working for a Company owned by Blue Coral of Cleveland Ohio and doing the MR. T for TR3 commercials.

    1
  19. Keith

    Mr. T went to Dunbar Vocational High in Chgo., l went to Chgo. Vocational High their adversary, l remember getting into a fight after a football game against Dunbar and being chased by some of their player’s one especially big black one, (possibly Mr. T) l was a quick shorty who got a way! 1968- 70 Back to the van, there was a after market company that made a t- top fiberglass roof section that you could install yourself in the Popular Vanning magazine. Never saw one as company didn’t stay in business long.

    2

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