Wild custom vans from '70s and '80s take center stage at Grand National Truck Show in Pomona

Dave Kunz Image
Monday, September 18, 2023
Wild custom vans from '70s, '80s take center stage at Pomona car show
Blast from the past: Outlandish custom vans from the '70s and '80s were on display at the Fairplex for the inaugural Grand National Truck Show.

POMONA, Calif. (KABC) -- Wild custom trucks were on display at the Fairplex at the inaugural Grand National Truck Show.

"Last year at the Grand National Roadster Show, we had over 30% of the vehicles that were entered were trucks. So we just felt like it's time," said John Buck, who runs the roadster show and this new truck variation.

It's a broad category, so all types of jaw-dropping trucks were hand selected to compete for a big cash prize. From a Chevy El Camino to antique commercial trucks, many types were on display.

"There's gonna be 175 of them inside, another 300 of them outside," noted Buck.

Among the ones inside, an amazing display of those outlandish custom vans from the '70s and '80s. They were all the rage at one time. In fact, one was the title character of a 1977 low budget movie called "The Van."

Well, they're back. They were brought out of hiding in mint condition or restored.

I asked Ron Cambra, a custom van owner and enthusiast, to offer highlights of a van on display that I chose at random. It was a bright yellow one with an airbrushed mural on each side.

"For me, it's a theme. It has to have a name. Like this van Stonehenge right here. The mural is off of an album cover. The crushed velvet. All the creative little things that go with the name, Stonehenge. All the wood that they did inside. Gotta have mirrors in a van, right? You gotta be able to see yourself in there. And the crazy lights and Kraco 8-track sound system. The flares. The Cragar wheels, and look at the curb feelers. We probably haven't seen those in 50 years," he said during a walk-around.

And there are different themes everywhere. The original owner of one Dodge van went for what she calls a "bordello" interior. With lighting, velvet and upholstered chairs, it looks like a movie set on wheels.

One thing's for sure - everywhere you turn, Instagram gold!

All of these amazing vans were on full display at the Grand National Truck Show over the weekend. But if you didn't make it out to the show, you'll likely see them out on the road and at other car shows. They're becoming popular - again.