Squashed! 1976 Dodge Sportsman Van

It looks like a stepped-on frog! I guess I can see the reason to chop a top on certain vehicles, like a ’32 Ford, but a ’76 Dodge Sportsman van? Well, whatever works for you I guess – this one certainly took some imagination and a certain degree of metalworking skill. Rocco B. found this most unusual creation here on Facebook Marketplace. It’s located in Hemet, California and is available for $2,500.

So this one’s not the first as another chopped ’76 Dodge van known as the Nautalis made an appearance here 0n Barn Finds back in 2019. The seller tells us that this example is a work in progress as the surgery has only been stitch welded in places and then fully welded in others. There is also a brief mention of rust areas but there’s no visual identity. That said, the body is a bit beat-looking and the fabrication around the chopped side windows is rough.

The inside could be claustrophobia-inducing; looking at it gives me a crick in my neck. I don’t know how anyone can see anything through that gunslit windshield. I also question the viability of the rollbar – it may be properly constructed but at a distance, it looks weak.

The cab is in pretty rough shape too. The driver’s seat is trashed and the engine cover looks like someone practiced on it with a jig saw. Note the interior condition of the door.

We are told “Runs and Drives” but there is no other information regarding the powertrain. If I had to guess, I’d say it’s a 150 net HP 318 CI V8 but who knows for sure. That’s an important item that will require further inquiry. This van is equipped with a TorqueFlite automatic transmission.

These were well-constructed vans. I had a work friend back in ’77 that bought a brand new one from a dealership in Maryland. It was unusual in that the speedometer was in kilometers and not MPH. Regardless, it was a tough truck, we ran over all kinds of stuff with it and it never missed a beat! It too was a work in progress as he had plans for an interior build-out but by ’78 I had moved on to another job and at that point, the van still sat as it did when new; I never saw it again. I can’t imagine what one would do with this thing – it looks like a grand piano got dropped upon it. Regardless, there’s ultimately a bottom for every seat and someone will go for it, right?


  1. 19sixty5 Member

    This was built during an episode of the TV show Motor Mythbusters. The episode is here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=giPwTNsV0eA

    Like 12
    • Gsuffa Gsuffa Member

      Great episode. Reduced the Coefficient of drag, as you would expect.

      Like 4
    • MotorWinder Member

      Great video, good time filler for lunch break …
      Was there a part #2 showing the 1/4 mile challenge?

      Like 1
    • PRA4SNW PRA4SNW Member

      Funny, I was just thinking that this looks like something a car type TV show might do to add a little humor.

  2. alphasud Member

    Only short stocky men need apply.

    Like 5
    • Bill Potts

      Danny DeVito?

      Like 2
  3. Broken Neck Cloister Phobia

    No way this is able to drive without and accident.

    Sell the engine and trans and make this a storage unit

    Like 6
  4. mike

    I have no words for this….

    Like 4
  5. ChipsBee

    No need for wipers …

    Like 3
  6. Claud

    Well, the van life craze is going strong so this should sell to very short stalked campers

    Like 3
  7. Michelle Rand Staff

    Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome.

    Like 6
  8. Papamartin

    Hey Ma, remember that underground parkade ya’ ll said I couldn’t get into?

    Like 5
  9. Another Mike

    Since it’s been butchered, might as well try to figure out how to work with what you got and make it better. Reconfigure windows, better stance, different wheels, etc.

    Like 8
  10. Mike B

    Paint it, put fat black plastic around the wheel wells & it follows the current trend in SUV’s. (Looks like we’ve reached critical mass w/ Mikes)

    Like 3
  11. Last 1LE

    The answer to a question nobody asked.

    Like 4
  12. Not a "Mike" Member

    Too much time and money on this guy’s hands

    Like 1
  13. Jay E. Member

    Really needs to be lowered. Pretty good starting point for a custom.

    Like 6
  14. Lance

    They started to crush it and stopped. Please complete the job.

    Like 7
  15. RMac

    Motor mythbusters butchered it and now wants to dump it
    Needs the body to be sectioned and channeled then lowered all that work and time and money and you will have an undrivable show van nobody wants LOL

    Like 4
  16. John M Stecz

    I think somebody mistook a couple of inches for a chopped roof and took near a foot.

    Like 1
  17. Bob Washburne


    But not the first time a Chrysler box has been sectioned! I came thisclose to buying this 1976 ambulance for $500 in 1986.


    The body was cut in half down the centerline, and widened a foot or so for ambulance service (you can see how much bu the cheesy grill insert).

    My chief concern at the time was sourcing another windshield, clearly a specialty item; but just scads of room inside, with a 440 & torqueflite.

  18. mike

    I was check if it was street legal with this butchered windshield.

  19. George

    The episode even featured a spare tranny🤭

  20. Big Al

    Make a sweet chikin coop!

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