It’s always good when your friends know what you’re into. That’s kind of how this story begins.
It started last year. I had just gotten home from an estate auction in Sylmar, California. I went there to look at what was supposed to be a low-mileage, grandma-fresh 1975 Chevy Nova two-door. Let’s just say that the auction house was being… well, kind, with their sweet, sweet butter words, when they wrote up the description for that car.
Disappointed, I hauled back home. When I got there, I cracked a cold one, then plopped down at my desk, heading back to my usual online searches, seeing what was for sale and where. A Facebook group had this code-73 Crimson Red 1975 Chevy G10 van that looked familiar. After a minute, I remembered how it had gone up on Craigslist, then eBay, up and down, no one touching it. “How,” I thought, “is this thing still for sale?”
Well, I finished that cerveza, cracked another, and typed up a short message to the seller. Did he have time for a quick phone call? Just a few questions, I said.
“Sure,” he said. “Give me a ring.”
So I did, and that lead to the phone call where I heard the van’s story. Which made me realize something: This van was friggin’ rad!
The story I was told goes like this:
The seller’s name was Rick. He was a lifelong resident of Canton, Ohio, and he remembered seeing the Chevy around town as a kid. The van had spent its entire life in Canton, he said. If you lived in the Canton/Akron area a few decades ago, you might remember A&K TV Sales & Service, off Cleveland Avenue. And you may have very well have seen this van, because that’s where it worked. In those days, small businesses were still considered to be an essential part of this country. A normal Joe Shmoe with a skill set, some talent, and some start-up bread could carve out a niche and make a decent living. Those who were good at this sort of thing knew that success hinged on that everlasting first impression, plus appearance and being memorable. A&K TV was hip to that, and this particular G10 was their TV-repair van—as well as, Rick said, the tow vehicle for their drag car.
How did Rick end up with it? A childhood friend of his, now in the demolition business, was dropping a garage in Canton. When his crew opened up the building to clear it, there sat the G10. One of Rick’s guys spoke to the woman who owned the garage—the van, she said, was her husband’s, and he had passed.
Rick’s guy had a hunch that Rick would be into the van. Next thing you know, he’s blowing the dust off the old girl and loading her onto a trailer.
When I got off the phone, I thought about the van in the light of that story. And I started asking myself who I knew in Ohio. The first car buddy that came to mind was Hagerty’s Jack Baruth, in Columbus.
Not thinking too much, I called him. “Hey man, how far are you from Akron?”
“A couple hours away. What’d ya find?”
Somehow, he knew. Gears were set in motion. Next thing I know, it’s the beginning of March, and I’m on a plane to Columbus. The plane landed Sunday evening. On Tuesday morning, I was flying back to California. It was just enough time for us to go pick up that old rolling room and drag it back to Cowtown.
As many of you know, buying any vehicle online is a roll of the dice. You’re left to trust the seller’s word and any pics or videos they provide. And maybe, just maybe, you have a buddy nearby willing to put eyes on the thing.
What we know so far: Without question, this van’s got rust. That’s gonna happen in the Midwest. But it’s solid in the places that count. The drivetrain consists of a Chevy 350, a Turbo 350 trans, and a 3.40 rear end. At some point, someone slipped a cam in it, hung on headers and duals, and topped it all off with an Offenhauser intake and a Holley carb. (The front flares and chin spoiler were removed for transport, but they’re safe in the van.) It’s a manual-steering, manual-brake, low-option, rippin’ little rig. We’re gonna have to rebuild the carb, do a full brake job, and do a tune-up. Then we’ll have a better idea of what’s next. And that’s where we’ll pick back up, the next time you’re reading here about our new buddy. A van I’m calling Rusty Jones.
Have some ideas for a direction you think we should go with this van? Feel free to tell us about them in the comments. Points will be deducted for poor taste and lack of originality—or for any Scooby-Doo or A-Team call-outs.