Junkyard Treasure: “Mid Night Cruzer” 1976 Dodge Custom Van

1976 Dodge Custom Van front RH view

Custom vans don’t get more authentic than this

The custom-van craze of the 1970s was strongest in California, and in that state you’ll still see the occasional example of a Detroit van with shag carpeting, bubble windows, wild graphics, and the rest of the stuff that made these vehicles special. Of course, sometimes a custom van gets too many parking tickets and gets towed away, or maybe it just falls into a state of not-worth-fixing disrepair, and it ends up in a big self-service wrecking yard. I spotted this once-gorgeous 1976 Dodge van in a Northern California yard a few weeks ago, and it is an amazing time capsule.

1976 Dodge custom van in San Jose junkyard

Just about every customizing touch is present, except for a big mural showing Aztec pyramids and/or a Mars Base and/or majestic lions hunting on the African savanna. It’s in good shape, too, without evidence that it sat outdoors with the windows broken for 25 years prior to coming to the junkyard.

Custom van interior mirror

There is custom etched or engraved artwork on much of the clear glass and plastic surfaces of this van. Inside, this “Mid Night Cruzer” mirror, showing what appears to be a lake in the Sierra Nevada mountains, lends an air of class. I knew I had to have this mirror, to go with the rest of the wall art in my garage, so I bought it.

We can assume that the “Mid Night Cruzer” text on the mirror is the name of the van, and that the 1972 Steely Dan song “Midnight Cruiser” influenced this van’s customizer.

Custom engraved vent window from 1976 Dodge custom van

I grabbed this spectacularly 1970s etched vent window for a friend who is building a customized Dodge van of similar vintage (when he’s not working on his mid-Nisssan-engined Renault Le Car race car).

Roof spoiler on 1976 Dodge custom van

Of course, what that custom Dodge back in Denver really needed was this roof spoiler. I didn’t have serious tools on me at the time, so I put out the word to the 24 Hours of LeMons community.

Dodge van spoiler on Weekend at Ernie’s Nissan 240SX

The Weekend At Ernie’s Nissan 240SX “Poorvette” team sent a representative to the junkyard, grabbed the spoiler, and brought it to the Sears Pointless 24 Hours of LeMons race. Now it lives in a racer’s garage, and at some point it will catch a ride in a Denver-bound racer’s vehicle.

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