Odd Rob’s Custom Van – From Mail Truck to Custom
Odd Custom Van
Story and pictures by Mr. Freeze: Rob Zollar
I swiped this little jewel from the big bad Ebay monster. A local guy had it up for sale and I talked him into selling it to me directly, (sorry if the guy in NY reads this) . For those who know my taste in vehicles this recent acquisition should come as no surprise , it’s ugly, weird , strange , unique and you don’t have one! It’s right up my alley!
Funny thing is, I was searching for a 1963 Chevy truck and on Ebay I typed 1963 and selected distance nearest and this thing came up!
Info and old photo from Offroaders.com:
These were produced for the federal government as postal vans from 1961 to 1965. At a mere 81” wheelbase 135” overall length and 64.7” width, they were a snap to maneuver in tight streets.
In 1969 a mistake was made and a mere 100 still in inventory were auctioned off before Willys reminded the US government they were supposed to be returned not sold… a few others escaped but the rest were eventually scrapped.
The 82 yr old gentleman I bought this van from had purchased 25 others at auction in hopes of starting a plumbing business with a reimbursement program started under the Lyndon B. Johnson administration. Under that program, a new business hiring recently returning soldiers and training them in a new profession, the business owner would be reimbursed two-thirds of the soldiers salary. Shortly after the purchase and outfitting 5 of the vans, Nixon was elected and cut funding before the first check was ever issued. Although the guy ran a successful plumbing business for over 40 years, only a hand full of the vans were ever used in his business. The rest were sold over the years and this was his personal and last one. It was still in the original issued US govt title when I bought it and it is now titled in my name.
I know there are those of you who might think this van should be restored and placed in a museum, SORRY! I will be pulling the verrrry heavy 4 cyl and cast iron trans and placing a small block Chevy, auto trans and some mags. I will leave the paint alone as long as possible or until the patina trend fades. Happy Hot rodding!
Watch for build updates on what will most likely be a lowered, trick custom van when Rob’s done with it. Thanks for the story, this is certainly a great example of “My Ride is Me”. (We’re just trying to figure out what Rob is!)