Stand By Your Van

BelindaBELINDA and “LAVA”
Interviewed February 2016.


Name, age, where you live:

My name is Belinda Saulnier-Maillet, I’m 42 and I moved from Acadia (Nova Scotia) to live in Alberta Canada ten years ago.


What kind of van do you have?

I bought my Canadian built, red, 89 Chevy van in 2009 from her second owner and named her Lava.


Tell us about any customizing you have done on on your van.

She has four spotlights on a roof rack, L.E.D headlights, Rammstein/Chevy bowtie and a bug deflector with the words “TONS OF VANARCHY” painted on it. Lava flows along on new tires and aluminum rims, pushed by a new transmission. She has a new 350 crate engine my husband bought me for my 40th Birthday but her exhaust sound is the head turner with the added intake, cam and lifter kit to give her a bit more life. The headers let the exhaust escape down to the dual mufflers, with a snappy giggle that entertains those reading the bumper stickers from clubs she proudly supports.


The insulated interior has been camperized by myself with the help of my husband the “GM trained Technician”. The floor and dividing walls are made of click flooring for quick install, future tear down and easy to clean. Behind the drivers seat is a small room that hides a portable toilet and bathroom necessities but also serves as supporting walls for the 3000w power inverter and stereo amp mounted on the outside. The rear section has a full size, hinged bed that lifts with pistons to give access to the water tank, two deep cycle batteries, food and clothing storage along with tools and emergency supplies below. From the bed, I can enjoy a nice breeze and sunsets through two large, tinted bay windows on either side. To the left of the side entrance is a kitchen area with a custom kitchen chair attached to a storage box for seating, extra prep space with water and cleaning supplies inside. Behind my custom chair is storage for dishes, food and a permanent, upright, electric Mobi-cooler which keeps food nicely chilled. With the front seat turned around to face the rear kitchen chair, there’s room for two to dine on my center table.


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Any future plans in the works for the van?

My “future plans” for Lava are to finish the barbarian style painting of myself and my husband on my table and perhaps some velvet “tuck ’n’ roll”. Once I’m done dealing with rust, I plan to make a front grille to hold a 42” curved, L.E.D light bar and my Rammstein/Chevy bow tie emblem. Once these are complete, some fresh paint would make her sparkle once again.


Have you “rocked” your van?

My husband and I have been together for 16 years and “Rock The Van” when we get a chance.


quoteAre you in a van club?

In 2009, I found about 100 groups around the world, most were for clubs I had no idea even existed. I couldn’t find anything in my area so I made a group called Alberta Vanners around 2010 to connect with others. On July, 17th 2013 I changed the name to TONS OF VANARCHY, a virtual van club for those who can’t be part of a “real club” in their area. I made it biker friendly for my husband and everyone with the rides they love to join share the love for all vans. I ordered stickers and gave most away, traded for patches or other club stickers. When they ran out I ordered more to send all over the world then watched the group grow from 94 to 1000 in a short period. Today I’m sending out patches and hopefully a new design of stickers and other exciting things.


Do you go to vanning events?

Over the years I’ve been to a few “gatherings” in Alberta to see vans and other Vanners. On our tenth wedding anniversary we drove across Canada and visited the P.E.I “2015 van-in” for a day then my husband had to fly back to Alberta. Two weeks later I entered my first “van-in” event in the Moncton, New Brunswick area and I had the best time of my life! The attached image was taken at this event for the “Dress like your vans era” theme and I decided to go with the Michael Jackson look I put together last minute.


What are your favorite places to take your van?

I’ve gone to many places and traveled across Canada with Lava several times. The proudest moment is when I see the smiles on peoples faces as they see the name on the front. I have to say my “favorite place to take her”, is on the road because at T.O.V...Our the highway!


Lava insideHow and when did your lust for vans begin?

When I was 12 my father and his girlfriend picked me up in her red Ford Econoline,  to see the new E.T. movie at the drive-in. It had bright lights, overhead console, C.B radio, stereo and more gadgets to play with. The back had a bed, side bunk, interior lighting and a potty hidden in the back. After the movie we went to a beach for the night where I awoke to the sound and view of crashing waves. We took a stroll down the beach and took some pictures of each other beside the cliffs and small waterfall. By the time they brought me back home to my mother, I knew I was hooked.

At the age of 16 I found myself spending an entire summer in a Black Chevy van with a young man I had been with for a year. We traded in a red 79 Trans Am for it after we fell in love with its brown shag, diamond leather interior, closet, sink, fridge and a table that converted to a bed in the rear. It had “his and hers”sunroofs, sun visor and a 400 engine that had no trouble playing with anything on the road at the time. Not long after we had the van, we traded it in for an Oldsmobile Toronado that was better on gas. If I could get my “wet dream van” it would be going back in time to bring this bad ass Chevy back! Over a 12 year period I got to enjoy and learn about many vehicles, only to get attached and have them traded in for another. Once the relationship was ended and I made it to college I was able to buy my “first car” but found out it “wasn’t supposed to be in Canada”. So, the 87 accord from Helsinki, Finland donated its engine to the second car, an 88 accord.

quoteIn 1999 I met the man of my dreams and I bought my “Other ride” which was my dream car. In 2000 I bought a 91 honda CRX, 5 Speed that is still in my driveway today then sold my accord. I also found a second van recently and I named Him Calcifer but I’m torn on making it a replacement or a summer van. The second van will have a third seat for those strays looking to hand out the “gas or grass” cause “ass” is not payment option.

In 2005 we got married, moved across Canada into an apartment where I spent many years in poor health. When I felt well enough to work, i enjoyed being a service adviser but didn’t stay long. I needed something to occupy me and bring some happiness back in my life. Once I figured out what made me happiest at any point of my life, I decided I need that feeling of freedom again... I decided I wanted to have another van.




Don’t Come Knockin’