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Cruisin' in Style: The Story Behind the Award-Winning 1973 Ford Econoline Tribute Van


In the heart of Sioux City, Iowa, a tribute to nostalgia and friendship roars down the streets, turning heads and capturing hearts along the way. Meet Bill Vander Veen, the proud owner of the 1973 Ford Econoline 100, a van that has undergone a remarkable transformation, earning accolades and admiration at the 2023 Midwest Regional Hot Rod Rally.


Bill's journey with his beloved van began when he stumbled upon it – a tired, faded black relic of its former self, sitting quietly in a corner. Despite its worn appearance, Bill saw potential. With the heart of an enthusiast and the vision of a dreamer, he brought the van home, igniting a passion project that would unite friends, family, and the community in a shared love for classic automobiles.


Originally deemed "creepy" by his wife Carol, the van underwent a dramatic makeover, thanks to the ingenuity of Bill and his trusted companions. Inspired by the iconic Mystery Machine from Scooby-Doo, Bill's best friend Charlie Roupe suggested a bold solution – a vibrant vinyl body wrap that would breathe new life into the old van. With the expertise of Blake at Second Skin Wraps, the transformation began, turning the once eerie van into a beacon of nostalgia and fun.




But the makeover didn't stop there. Inside, Bill's flooring expertise shone through as he adorned the interior with classic shag carpeting, reminiscent of an era gone by. The ceiling, a patchwork of memories, was crafted from leftover flooring from the local Rollerama skating rink, infusing the van with a sense of community and history. Seats repurposed from his dad's last flooring van added a touch of sentimentality, while the assistance of his brother Danny ensured that every detail was perfect.


Of course, Bill's journey wouldn't have been possible without the support of his friends and family. From Pat Reed's expertise with brakes, shifting linkage, and exhaust to the invaluable contributions of his son-in-law Cody Barnes, each member of the team played a vital role in bringing the van to life. Together, they poured their passion and dedication into every inch of the project, transforming a forgotten relic into a symbol of camaraderie and adventure.

Since its revival, the van has become more than just a mode of transportation – it's a testament to the power of friendship and the joy of the open road. From road trips across the country to spontaneous adventures closer to home, the van has become a beloved member of the Vander Veen family, creating memories that will last a lifetime.


A Dream Machine for Young and Old

At the 2023 Midwest Regional Hot Rod Rally, the van's charm and charisma captured the hearts of all who beheld it, earning three prestigious awards – the Kids' Choice Award, the Best Vintage Award, and the Viewers' Choice Award. It was a fitting tribute to Bill's dedication and the collective effort of everyone involved in the project.


As the proud owner of the 1973 Ford Econoline Tribute Van, Bill Vander Veen continues to inspire others with his passion for classic automobiles and the spirit of community that drives his every endeavor. With each mile traveled and every adventure embarked upon, the van serves as a reminder that with a little creativity, ingenuity, and a whole lot of heart, anything is possible. So here's to Bill and his remarkable van – may the road ahead be filled with endless adventures and cherished memories.



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