February 26, 2021

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Geared for the Automotive Life

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    • Spotted in the Wild: 1971-73 Dodge Tradesman 200
      I found this interesting 1971-73 Dodge Tradesman 200 van on a walk in downtown Portland, Oregon this morning. Isn't it strange how many odd/interesting cars show up during a walk? These vans were as common as pigeons when I was growing up in Southern California, and many were customized with furniture, stereo systems, shag carpet -- and yes, beds. Not many survived to 2020, and not many survived in this shape. Check out that oh-so-1970s paint! The front of the van looks almost perfect. It's a time machine. The side looks great -- and the emblems really add to the look. The tires are definitely what you saw as second-day mods back in 1973 -- but they look odd on this van, which is the model that most plumbers and electricians drove back in the day. The modified vans usually didn't have side windows -- except for custom round portholes. That might explain why this one didn't get the carpeting and lava lamps. It looks like this Tradesman may have been a working truck, but if that's the case, why does it look so good? A closer look reveals a few clues.   Look at the rear door sill -- not the period-correct bumper sticker! -- and you'll see signs that this van has been repainted. The bumper also shows more wear up close, and old bits of towing gear lurk below the bumper. Still, this might be the nicest 1971-73 Dodge Tradesman I've seen in a long, long time. Yeah, I wish it were mine, even though I didn't get to see the engine, which lives under a big bump between the driver and passenger seats. It's clear that someone loves this old van -- and has spent time and money on it. To me, it's a collectible. Dodge built hundreds of thousands of these vans, but find another one like this one. At one time, these vans were cultural icons. They're also practical for daily use, and I'm sure this one would attract a crowd at any cars & coffee. What do you think? What have you "Spotted in the Wild" recently?      
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