Shagadelic Golden Ticket: 56k-Mile 1981 Chevrolet Van Short-Wheelbase Custom Van

  • April 05, 2021
The Rundown
  • Groovy Late-'70s/Early-‘80s Custom Van
  • Very Rare Short-Wheelbase Model
  • Eye-Catching Gold Paint & Custom Graphics
  • Reasonable 56k Seller-Stated Miles
  • Replete w/ Period Interior & Exterior Custom Features
  • GM Inline 6-Cylinder Engine w/ Automatic Transmission
  • Swiveling Front “Captain’s Chairs”
  • Stunning Interior Worthy of ‘Superfreak’ Rick James
Why We Like It

As the first American high-performance era sputtered to near extinction during the early 1970s, the groovy custom van culture exploded with popularity with the latest crop of vans from the 'Big Three'. Now viewed beyond their hardworking, utilitarian roots, vans were the perfect canvas for the full range of custom arts, ranging from wild paint jobs to rec-room-like interior appointments, high-performance powertrains, and the latest audio systems. Their ample size and comfort, inspired by early-1970s machismo, also inevitably begat their nefarious “shaggin’ wagon” name. The new-for-1973 GM vans from Chevrolet and GMC, in long- and rare short-wheelbase forms, were prime exemplars of the concept, with their clean, “just right” styling and wide array of powertrain and factory-available options and amenities. Aftermarket tweaks included “porthole” windows, roof vents, sunroofs, fender flares covering mag wheels with fat tires, and the inevitable acres of wall-to-wall shag carpeting typified the breed. Magazine coverage was wide and extensive, spurring the nickname of “Van Craft” to Car Craft, the Petersen Publishing magazine that usually catered to drag racing and street machines.

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shagadelic-golden-ticket-56k-mile-1981-chevrolet-van-short-wheelbase-custom00202 dy3PnWTIveSz 0CI0t2 1200x900Looking fresh, as if it has just been customized, this short-wheelbase 1981 Chevy Van is so luridly appointed, it’s good! Dubbed the “Golden Ticket,” it sports an exceptionally nice body finished in gold paint with custom lettering, smoked “teardrop” rear windows, custom flames at each flank, “de rigeur” headlamp covers, rear-window louvers, fender flares, black-painted wheels, “knock-off” wheel spinners, and fat BFG Radial T/A tires. Inside, we find swiveling front captain’s chairs, a rear chandelier, custom steering wheel, rear bench, and fabulous long-thread carpeting on the dash and rear privacy curtain, while a lift-up side door, sun visor, and roof spoiler are other groovy cues. A thrifty GM 6-cylinder engine and automatic transmission powers the van, consistent with the frugal mindset of the van’s original era. Lairy and lurid, yet fun and guaranteed to attract smiles and admirers everywhere, “The Golden Ticket” celebrates the late-1970s/early-1980s like no other vehicle today.

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Valuation Verdict

This Zero260 contributor was a very young lad when vans like this one prowled the streets and delivered a virtual roller-disco party on wheels wherever they rolled. One owned and mildly customized by a local farmworker even retained its “Chevy Van” die-cast logos, truncated on a band saw to “hevyvan,” emphasizing the “heavy, man…” vibe of the era. The “Keep on Truckin’ rear graphics of our subject vehicle deliver additional hippie-flavored 1970s presence, and the van’s short-wheelbase proportions still look great today. Such vehicles are individualized expressions of their owners’ artistic and girl-attracting visions and are hard to value; however, at the seller’s most accessible asking price, no harm should be done to buyer nor seller, representing 'Fair Market' value at a deep discount to the road-tripping fun to be had with this very groovy ride!

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