Six-Wheeled Shaggin’ Wagon: 1981 Dodge Custom Van

Come with me and step back into 1981. The ‘80s were just getting started, and some people were still comfortable back in 1979 when this third-generation Ram van was introduced. The good people at Chrysler ran with the philosophy of “don’t fix what ain’t broke,” and produced basically this same vehicle into the 21st century, though with some facelifts here and there. Thanks to Jow King for turning us on to this magnificent example of ‘70s-era van culture. You can find it here on eBay.

Modifying vans was hugely popular in the ‘70s and ‘80s, most famously demonstrated by The A-Team and B.A. Baracus’s tastefully modified GMC Vandura. Taste is subjective, I will concede, and everyone has their own interests. Having said that, this Dodge Ram is far from what rolled off the assembly line. There’s a whole other axle behind the drive wheels, this one supplied with an air suspension system. It doesn’t look to be adjustable from the cabin, but I’m sure there’s space to add an air compressor and distribution tank if you decided you’d like that extra functionality.

Mechanicals aside, the real party begins inside. You’ve got what looks to be a full-size bed, running water, and quilted leather everything. Well, not everything. What isn’t quilted leather has a dense coat of shag rug on it. It looks like it could be open to accepting a modern redo of the interior, but then you’d lose out on the groovy aspect of the quilted leather and shag. At the very least, you could get some good use out of a new media center. If you can track one down, I recommend an 8-track deck.

It’s got some custom bodywork to accommodate that extra axle, and it seems the people who did the customization had some liberties not only with the paint, but they also added some sunroofs. While it’s nice to look up at the stars and ponder the deepest questions of the universe like who can like really like own a tree, or how weird our hands are, there is some rust noticeable around the edges there and might be worth looking into more seriously. The seller calls it a shaggin’ wagon, and whether or not you like this style of customization, there’s definitely something to be said for a vehicle that knows what it is and is unashamed about it.


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  1. Fahrvergnugen Fahrvergnugen Member

    Wonder if a water bed can serve dual purpose as a water tank. At least the extra axle could handle the weight of the water or a jumbo or two.

    Wonder if CSI lights would make the interior glow with real intensity, too.

    Like 5
    • fordor

      Brings back the old saying:
      “Dad; I’ve got a heavy date tonight, Can I borrow the one ton pick-up?”

      Like 1
  2. Pat L Member
  3. michael h streuly

    730.00 dollars maybe.

    Like 1
  4. CCFisher

    This thing will need more than Febreeze to freshen it up.

    Like 6
  5. Howard A Member

    Pure silliness, the 3rd axle does nothing. If you don’t lift it around corners, be wearing out tires left and right. Called “tandem axle semi truck” syndrome. The back axle gets literally dragged around a corner. These rode nice enough, no need for the “more is better” schtick.
    People are living in these things by me, yeah, down by the river, and the ilk that crawls out of them is disgusting. How someone can live like that. They are burnouts or alcoholics, that don’t want to work, and live like pigs and hang out behind the laundromat. These were great vans, but I’d surely pass on this abomination.

    Like 5
    • Gregory Stegall

      “Easy Sandra, easy!” Elmer Fishpaw

      Like 1
  6. Ben T. Spanner

    I had a friend with a body shop who did a couple of these. As I recall they were shipped somewhere in Europe; maybe Sweden where there was a tax on imports with less than 6 wheels.
    He received a non converted van with just 4 wheels. His job was to only modify the inner wheel wells. This was accomplished by cutting stock watering tanks in half. .

    Like 1
  7. Howie Mueler

    Maybe back then but not now. Its very close to me. GLWS.

    Like 1
  8. John C.

    Another “Mr. T” Special! (The A Team)

  9. t-bone BOB

    Item location:
    Van Nuys, California

    Like 1
  10. Kevin

    It’s nothing like the A team van,which was a swb gmc this is an extended beyond lwb dodge,but yes very close in era,this was probably super nice when first done,but the twin axels do nothing for me either,agreed it’s a waste.

  11. t-bone BOB

    This listing was ended by the seller because the item is no longer available.

    Jun 11, 2021
    Starting bid:
    US $7,300.00
    [ 0 bids ]

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