Tropic Traveler Conversion? 1981 Dodge Ram Van

Believe it or not, this custom Dodge Ram Van has been hidden away for three decades until just recently emerging with its custom interior and other touches still intact. The seller notes low mileage of just 66,000 and lots of other undisclosed custom touches from when the van was originally built. These things will never not be cool, and it’s a treat when they’re as clean as this one is on the inside. Find it here on eBay with bids to $3,450 and no reserve.

The Ram Van has a cool in-period paint job, with side graphics and airbrushed artwork on the spare tire cover. Other artistic details are interlaced throughout, clearly a lens into the vision of the first builder of this conversion van. The artwork always strikes me as telling in terms of what was happening in society that prompted the original designer to take this particular path of vehicular customization. There’s no way designs like these were concocted by accident.

Inside, the cabin is better than you’d expect for a conversion van, at least in terms of condition. I cannot speak for personal taste, but the interior is a fairly authentic replica of most suburban living rooms in the 1960s. While I tend to personally shudder at all the potential grossness carpets can absorb and hide, there’s no denying this interior is at least still in good order and not falling apart. The captain’s chairs are a nice setup, and there’s plenty of room to walk around.

Check this out: here’s a big clue into this van’s history. Search the name Art Grindle and you’ll find articles from the Orlando Sentinel talking about a family of salesmen, the last in the line starting a van conversion business called Tropic Traveler Vans. Here’s a commercial of the man himself hawking his “Sporty Shorty” conversion van. In addition to the high state of preservation on display here, there’s also a fair amount of history involved. A win-win for the next owner.


WANTED 1973-77 Pontiac Gran Prix wheel well trim pieces for rear Contact

WANTED 1959-1961 (and) GM Cars Cad,Chevy,Corvair,Pontiac,Olds,Buick Wanted parts/donor car. I need a “Cantilever”,”Flying Wing”;”flattop” roof assembly. Contact

WANTED 1970-1978 Datsun 240z 260z 280z Hello, I’m looking to buy a datsun z car from 1970-1978, project condition or nicer car considered Contact

WANTED 1960-1965 Porsche 356 Driver I’d like to find a driver-quality 356 that isn’t too rusty to enjoy. Thanks! Contact

WANTED 1974-75 Toyota Corolla E5 Yellow, Black Interior, 5 speed. Rust free, any location in US Contact

Submit Your Want Ad


  1. Bakyrdhero

    I had one of these. An 81 straight six, 1 bbl carb and a three in the tree! Complete with shag carpeting, though not as nice as this one. It was kind of a chore to drive honestly and I didn’t have it long. This is a nice one.

    Like 4
  2. Steve H.

    What an awesome time capsule! Just dripping with coolness. That upholstery and wild wood paneling are awesome touches on this conversion. For some reason the two front seats were spared of that crazy treatment. Perhaps so that the driver could focus on the road ahead. The best part of all? The outhouse depicted on the spare tire cover. Wow!

    The only thing missing are photos of the engine that the seller decided to leave out. Too bad, would love to see the motor…

    Like 2
  3. Al

    Nice van!

    I still have a 1981 Dodge Ram 3500 Royal Frontier Class B RV.

    I don’t use it much, so it has only 55,000 miles on it and gets 22 mpg @ 70 mph.

    Like 12
  4. dave brennan

    6 out of last 8 some variation of tan!!

    Like 1
  5. GPAK

    Gotta love the thought that went into the design of the engine cover between the front seats !

    A pair of cup holders on on top of a carpet volcano !

    That would definitely keep any hot beverages on the boil for hours !

    Like 1
  6. Bob McK Member

    Don’t know why, but I love this van. It is such a step back in time when that ugly interior was hot. I want it.

  7. AZVanman


Leave A Comment

RULES: No profanity, politics, or personal attacks.

Become a member to add images to your comments.


Keep me in the conversation via email. Or subscribe without commenting.