Mon
Jul 12 2010 3:39pm

Before the Internet We Expressed Ourselves Through Vans

The ’60s and ’70s were a heady time for science fiction and fantasy. At least, that’s what I imagine they must have been after glimpsing this collection of fantasy art van murals.

Somewhere around the debut of Star Trek and the Frodo Lives! bumper sticker meme, it became socially acceptable (or perhaps I mean socially awesome) to airbrush your van with your favorite fantasy art. Sadly, we’ve since moved on as a people. If there’s something on the side of our vans now, it’s the number for our plumbing service, an energy drink ad, or a terrifying political screed.

Click the link above and enjoy a trip through a more innocent time filled with naked women on winged horses, lightning-struck mountains, and ten miles to the gallon. (Then come back, because the Japanese have since taken up the art of van modification and are pushing it to some intense extremes.)


Chris Greenland hears tale of a John Jude PalenCAR that still roams the streets, covered in art, and thirsty for gas, but cannot find any pictures of it.

4 comments
David Levinson
1. DemetriosX
I don't know. I think you're painting a very rosy picture of this phenomenon. As I recollect it, these vans usually screamed redneck (or, in a minority of cases, surfer dude) and the pictures usually represented either the cover of the owner's favorite Molly Hatchet album or were picked as semi-random from a gallery of available paint jobs at the shop. Kind of the way someone today might pick a random Chinese character at the tattoo parlor.

Most of them also sported one of two bumper stickers or rear license plate frames: Gas, Grass or Ass, Nobody Rides For Free, or If this van's a-rockin', then don't come a-knockin'. And were driven by the kind of guy who would put a bumper sticker like that on his vehicle.

And mullets. I strongly associate this kind of van "art" with mullets.
Harry Connolly
2. Harry Connolly
MAN-WOLF!
Noneo Yourbusiness
3. Longtimefan
I will say that as a kid I wanted every van to be a canvas for Boris Vallejo. Seriously.

Diamond windows and polar bears pulling ice chariots and fire wreathed swords and dragons perched on the ruins of castles.

The world would be an awesome place if all those blank van walls were moving canvases and the freeways were ribbons of museums because Grandparents often live far away and kids get bored looking at monochromatic Hondas and Volvos and Chevrolets.

Granted as a kid I had no idea what types of people drove those vans. I assumed all grown ups were the same as my parents who were rather boring. The van people were just slightly more artistic.

Apparently that may not have been true.

The vans are still cool.
Evan Goer
4. evangoer
"So basically, the rule for writing a fantasy novel is if it would look totally sweet airbrushed on the side of a van..."

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