Stand By Your Van

Interviewed February 2016.


Name, age, where you live:

Piper Rovin, San Francisco, CA.


What kind of van do you have?

73 Ford Econoline E100 Shorty “The Cub.”


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

I’ve put two deep cycle marine batteries in, an isolator and a convertor which powers my van when I’m camping. I mostly run a stereo, lights and phone charger but I’m able to power a bit more like power tools, movie projector, etc.

quoteI’ve started putting sound deadening throughout the van plus a new thermo blanket for the doghouse.

Restoring-wise I removed the fiberglass top and completely restored the whole top area including removing old gutter putty, rust-out gutter repair, new skylight, paint, new putty in the gutters, resealed the camper top back on and new rivets.

Most everything on the van seemed original when got it and I’ve been having mechanics replace or rebuild almost everything through the years.


Piper at work on The CubAny future plans in the works for the van?

Too many! Nearest future plans are to take out all the windows and replace the cracked old seals, then body work and paint (one part enamel only! I have to buy somewhere else besides California). I also have new seals for passenger and driver doors plus fuzzies and welt for the roll down windows.


Once I’m all good and sealed up again I will start the interior work; flooring, wall panels and any cabinets that are necessary. I don’t have a game plan yet but I do like having it fairly open so it can double as a hauling van for work gear. I put in a stereo and speakers, next is a CB radio.

Love to make an awning for the side, across the shoulder seat belts, air conditioning and put in power steering… in fact that might be my one advice to anyone looking to buy an older van, make sure if its not power steering you could still upgrade it or that that’s something that works for you. Because mine is short I can eventually get into a most spots but its frick’n brutal especially on a hill, if you live in a place where you rarely parallel parked it wouldn’t be an issue. I think most of the Econoline’s didn’t have power steering unless they were Chateau Club Wagons which were basically the deluxe version that came with all the extras and trim (I could be totally wrong on this!!!).


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Have you “rocked” your van?



Any past vans you’ve owned?

My first vehicle was a quarter ton 1970 International step van with the steering wheel on the right hand side and a killer original army metallic green paint job. At a not-so-sweet 16 I put a linoleum floor down and (with the help of my high school woodworking teacher) built two bench-couches that folded into a bed.

quoteMy second van was a 1995 Toyota Previa (mini van?!… hiss, hiss). I tried so hard to come up with a paint job that would make it a van I really wanted, but paint can only do so much. It was a good five years of trouble free driving. In the end though, when stuff started failing I wasn’t driven to put money into it, plus I just needed a bigger rig for my tools.

There may come a day when people obsess over minivans, I think first generation Toyota’s are super cute and I’ve seen some enviable mid 90s-early 00 GMC Safari’s and Chevy Astro customs. I think the trick with minivans (first its got to be boxy!) is to get the panel style with only legally necessary windows, keep it simple but with good details, drop the front just a touch and kick up the rear. Bam! Not yo mammas minivan! There’s such a market that companies sell lift kits especially for these. That’s what divides us from the rest, disposable vehicles from the past, and the fanatics that pour time/money into them.


The CubAre you in a van club?

No, I’d like to be…hit me up! I’m on forums and other van websites; yours of course! Econoline Message Board, Facebook’s Second Generation Econoline Vans and Van-List (great place for to look at vans being sold all over the country!!!).


Do you go to vanning events?

No, I suck.


What are your favorite places to take your van?

I love to go camping and glamp-out. I always over-pack the Cub with stuff then spill out when I get there, setting up a cute hangout and cooking zone.


How and when did your lust for vans begin?

I grew up with vans, from the weed growers to the musician’s in Mendocino, I was always traveling in vans. My mom had an old Dodge, blue with a white stripe though the middle, she had her business name painted on it that practically went the length of the van: Jacki’s Magic Lotion… yep. My mom also dated a guy that had an old panel truck from the 40s, it’s called a truck but it’s basically a van. I loved that thing with its large cargo and great shape. I have some gypsy in me and I like traveling with everything I need. I think there’s that part of me that just loves vehicles, in which I can bring my world around with me.


What do you think about the current van “scene” today?

I suck. There’s a lot going on that I don’t know about. Here in the bay area there’s a lot of classic cars and motorcycle events, but not much for vans. Seems like the good ones are in the Midwest and down south.

quoteAny other van-related things you do?

As a visual painterly type I’m always collecting paint jobs for my records, often’ there’s a trend with a style of vehicle and the paint job, sometimes I’m surprised with what people come up with. Sometimes you want graphics but the shape dictates differently. From a graphic and visual perspective “the van” is one of the best platforms for expression…which explains a lot to why a certain subculture of people are drawn to them. There are not enough quality picture books devoted to classic vans; I’d love to do one.

What other kinds of wheels do you roll?

I don’t currently have a motorbike, but I’m looking again. I’m pretty certain my skateboarding days are way behind me. My other vehicle is a 95 4x4 two door Tracker.

Sky’s the limit, describe your ULTIMATE wet dream van.

Our friends can be jealous of our foxy vans but we all know there’s a price to pay, from safety, maintenance and fuel consumption. I hate, hate, hate modern vehicles and the decline of design, if I had buckets of money I’d open a restomodding shop and hire the best, taking old vehicle bodies and giving them modern components. Yes, there’s an initial high cost but with the better performance and safety these older beauties could stay on the road a lot longer. With enough interest prices could eventually be lowered as models and templates were established. There’s a few out there already doing this on a small custom scale and they are seriously worth checking out just for drool factor… sorry you cannot afford it. I’d love to have some over the top quadvan crawler but on an old Chevy… or something.

PiperWhat are some must have tunes to crank while cruising in your van?

I love all kinds of music, but Hallowed Be Thy Name is probably our theme song.


Ford, Chevy or Dodge?

Not being a mechanic, in the end I’m a sucker for looks. All had foxy beasts out on the road at some point. If I had more space I’d own them all.


Ass, gas or grass?

It’s a big old heavy V8 gas slurper, so unless you’re some Steve McQueen or Ryan Gosling lookalike, I’ll take the gas.


Plether, shag or tuck-n-roll?

I love a lot of things 70s but shag, not so much. When I reupholster the seats I’ll probably do a combo tuck-n-roll, I love the look of two different materials with slightly different sheens. I get most of my inspiration from airstream and trailer conversion books... little bit bohemian, little bit rock ‘n’ roll. I usually let the thing I’m decorating speak to me what it is. The Cub is bright safety yellow and super fucking cute, so now its just a lot of yellow and red and white detailing, if I decide to change the body color when I paint, the interior will probably change as well.


Any other comments for DON’T COME KNOCKIN’?

When I first saw The Cub, it was love at first sight. I had a big move two and a half years ago and I’ve been really focused on my new place. The Cub’s been neglected during this time but I’m gearing up to put love back into her. I look forward to sharing the progress in the future at events, van meets, camping, my website and on Don’t Come Knockin’!





Don’t Come Knockin’