As many of you may have noticed, we've been going into the archives to print van features due to the avid, and sometimes rabid, responses from our readers and website devotees. When our resident vannin' expert, Bob Ryder, came across Tom Chronister's '77 in his feature archives, we had to let it out of the files and onto our pages.
Tom's '77 Dodge Tradesman, dubbed "Battlestar," still looks as it did when it was originally built over 20 years ago. Even then, the Tradesman 200 was a throwback to the late '70s, as evidenced by the Star Wars mural that was airbrushed by Originals by Ron in Torrance, California. Ron had plenty of room for the paint to flow, as Streetable Customs West, also in Torrance, stretched the van five feet by grafting on the rear of another Tradesman van, while also stretching the frame and adding a second axle. SCW also installed the fiberglass wing and visor as well as the roll pan and front air dam before the factory Camaro paint was sprayed on. Additional '70's-styling cues include a Glory Grilles square tube grille that surrounds eight rectangular headlights pirated from a Monte Carlo, while the rear of the van uses '67 Mercury Cougar taillights mounted vertically.
No custom van is complete without a cushy interior, and Tom's van has that covered in spades. SCW installed the blue and gray button tuck upholstery on the Flexsteel captains chairs, while the middle of the van is filled with stainless steel cabinetry that makes up a functional kitchenette. The rear of the van is more button-tuck upholstery on the waterbed. Yep, waterbed, we told you this thing was a throwback.
Receiving countless trophies, the van continues to impress all these years later. In fact, Tom continues to drive Battlestar to van shows across the country, giving showgoers a glimpse of the early days of truck customization that spawned Truckin' magazine.