~ The Pony Express Van Club ~

~ And Me ~




I saw a van conversion at the Chevrolet dealer... I liked that, so in 1975 I ordered a G-20 full size empty van From Chevrolet

And began several months of customizing

Need some windows in the back don't we?...

How do you do this anyway?...

Well, let's try it this way...

Have to have some nice new seats...

And some nice carpeting on the walls...

I had some free help from the guys on the block...

Some overhead spots would be nice...

And a sink and AC/DC refrigerator (got to keep the beer cold)... Later a color TV...

And some seats in the back, converting to a bunk...

Looking pretty good for a first try at customizing...

And the trunks packed up for a trial run to South Padre Island...

Then one day, saw a line of vans.. heading where? I got in line...

So they stopped to chit and chat... And invited me to join the Pony Express Van Club

So, I joined up, began going to meetings and taking pics of Club activities...

And, after a couple meetings and a few pictures... I am thinking, this outfit needs some new leadership and guidance

And my program to take over started...

Nope, didn't really think I was gonna be President... But I took over the Newsletter and then got a pic for our new ID cards
First, in front of the Pony Express Stables

Then tried one by the Pony Express statue... Chose the Statue and got the cards printed

So then we needed a window decal and I designed this one and had them printed...

And a nice metal Dash Plaque with a gold background and a yellow border, the print in blue...

It was a custom to supply a Dash Plaque for each Truck-In... We called ours a Poker Run and I had these made every year...

And if you remember the gas shortages in the 70s... My Idea was to have our Poker Run... inside the park and on foot to save gas... We did this for a couple years then...
and... I traced around ~my~ foot for the pattern...

And some of many Van Club activities... Like The Van Show at JC Penney's St Joseph Auto Center

And the skating party at Skateland...

An OctoberFest at the Frog Hop Ballroom...

A chicken cook-out down by the Platte River...

A word from one of our Sponsors... Chuck Tadlock B.F. Goodrich...

Chuck gave club members a discount on tires and service... and a full set of tires as Grand Prize at our own Truck-In


Another one of our Sponsors... was the Olympia Beer distributor for our area
They would furnish beer for our various events

So I built this trailer for hauling stuff to our events and to advertise our sponsors
Olympia donated all the beer for the cans and Chuck Tadlock donated the wheels and tires for the trailer


Oh yeah, along the way, the club President quit and the newly elected one wasn't happy with the limits of our Charter rules... So, at a nice quiet Van Club meeting I suggested that a Board of Directors be elected to change the charter... And... Who do you supposed they elected Chairman of the Board?

Then I rewrote the Club Charter and changed the offending rules...

And more club activities... Here a 'Charity Van Bash' at a South St Joseph Shopping Center...

Started at 50 cents a Smash... later free as the crowd dwindled...

Gee Dad, it was such a nice ride...

And the BIGGEST event of 1976 or so... George Barris (designer of many special show cars), designed the 'Super Van' and they filmed the movie 'Super Van - The Movie' at a 'Truck-In' near St Joseph...

Genuine Grade 'D' movie but it was fun... and kinda funny in parts...

George Barris, shown here, re-built the van for the movie “Super Van - The Movie” in the mid 70’s. It started out as the Love Machine in the late 60’s, made from a Dodge Sportsman Van. They said 'Super Van' was an example of the ultimate in futuristic motoring with solar energy.

HAH! solar? you could see from the smoke in the movie it was burning some oil...

They filmed the Party scenes at the October Truck-In, at 'Old MacDonald's Farm near St Joseph, hosted by the Vans-Am Club of Kansas City...

But they needed additional scenes and needed vans from our club to fill in... So we were in several scenes and ~I~ was a walkon in some of them.. Anyone want my autograph?

Of course the 'World Premier' was held in St Joseph with George Barris present at a special showing for the Club members and guests... Some real fun times!

And all those parades, for anything and anywhere... Here the Homecoming parade for Western Missouri State University...

There is the former Club President leading the parade with our Club banner on the front...

Another of our Good Sponsors... The local Olympia beer distributor... furnished beer for our parties and activities...

I built a trailer completly covered with Oly beer cans to take in Parades and to haul some of our equipment we needed on Truck-In weekends

It was really NEAT and now I can't find any picture of it...

And then... All those 'Truck-Ins'... What's a Truck-In?... well a three day weekend party, hosted usually at a campground by a local Van Club... And sanctioned by an area Van Council, in our area we were members of the Heart of America Van Council...

Here, I was the only member of our Club to attend a Truck In at Phoenix Raceway Arizona...

And... there were National Truck-Ins, this one hosted by the National Street Van Association at Farmington Missouri...

Local Truck-Ins might have several hundred vans, the Nationals... thousands?

And large Businesses were interested in bringing displays and concessions...

Ford, Chevrolet, Dodge.. Goodyear...Where is our local sponser B.F .Goodrich?...

Nope, no Goodrich tent... But I had on my Goodrich T-Shirt and as the Goodyear man showed me the Goodyear blimp... I showed him the Goodrich blimp... (No.. Goodrich doesn't have a blimp)

Sure we got a blimp... See it on my T-Shirt and at the end of that rope?

And that banner, I hauled that thing everywhere, inherited it when I was elected President... Made out of old jeans and calico shirts... and it was HEAVY!

And By the by.. Was elected President three years in a row... And also... elected Treasurer of the Heart of America Van Council...

Lotsa people. lotsa activities, lotsa ganes and contests at a National...

Here they tied two vans together for a Van Tug O' War... The idgits burned rubber until they blew their tires out!

Think I was kiddin?... There they go!

Wanna buy a T-Shirt?....Free one if the ladies showed their boobs!... (and I got pics!)

Here is some ancient history, around 1978 I would guess... Our Club hosted a Poker Run and Truck-In each year and one year I had invited a Van Club from Canada... AND... they threw me off the stage into the lake behind!

As I announced their Van Club they rushed the stage and grabbed me... I managed to get my watch off and most of my clothes before they dumped me in...

Here is one of our members 'Crash' (Ken Madsen) fishing me out, me spitting sea weed...

Reginald Sullivan of the former Pluto Van Legion in Kansas City saw this Van Page and sent me these photos...

Well... How long could this last? I have a LOT more van pics...

But... We gotta Keep on Truckin!!!...

* Click Here for the Heart of America Van Council Page *


This Vanring site is owned by
~ Donald L. Smith ~.

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