Vantastic Dodge Tradesman rocks with the spirit of ’77

Legacy Classic Trucks

Coachella, the well known music festival situated in the California desert, attracts the best and brightest in both visual and performance art. Perhaps that’s why Legacy Classic Trucks, maker of top-shelf Jeep and Dodge Power Wagon restomods, chose this year’s Coachella to unveil a foray into the restomod space: this spectacular 1977 Dodge B100 Tradesman.

Considering the popularity of the #vanlife hashtag for those with a bent for adventure and fashion, Legacy might be on to something. We hope they succeeded at turning heads last month at Coachella, because vans don’t get nearly the respect they deserve in our SUV and truck-centric world.

Legacy firmly believes that a van like this custom 1977 Dodge B100 Tradesman is ideal for road trips and music festival attendance. Company founder Winslow Bent took this vehicle to Coachella last month, after purchasing it earlier this year in Chicago.

The reconditioned and upgraded Tradesman pushes all the right buttons for a modern take on an icon of our automotive past. From the outside it sports a color gradient stripe exterior paint treatment, rear portholes, side exit exhaust, and period-correct Cragar wheels. There’s also a battery-powered air conditioner by Dometic on the roof, a luxury that reminds us not all parts of the vintage experience are pleasant. When attending an event known for high style and haute couture, a respite from the heat and humidity goes a long way.

Inside is where Legacy’s most thoughtful touches come to light, with orange shag carpeting atop a first-rate kit of batteries, JL Audio amplifiers, and the necessary wiring to keep the party going for days. While the front occupants get a modern in-car entertainment screen that pops out of the factory dashboard, rear occupants are treated to a TV and VCR combo player that appears to be from the 1990s. It rests atop a reclaimed nightstand with vintage VHS tapes, some (all?) of which came with the van as part of its provenance from the previous owner.

1977 Tradesman Custom Van front three quarter
Legacy Classic Trucks

Details on the mechanicals are sparse, but reliability and comfort seem to be the primary aims of this restomod restoration. Brakes and suspension were refreshed, not necessarily upgraded. (Modern-sized brakes would likely never fit behind vintage Cragar wheels with tall sidewall tires.) The Tradesman’s 5.2-liter V-8 engine was rebuilt to an unknown spec, but Legacy’s press release says it was “stroked out” and that the Tradesman now has 450 lb-ft of torque. One thing is for sure—that’s more grunt than a fuel injected 5.9-liter Magnum V-8 in a Durango/Dakota from the late 1990s.

1977 Tradesman Custom Van door interior shag
Legacy Classic Trucks

While a modernized powertrain would excite some readers ’round these parts, not to mention horsepower fans on the ground at Coachella, Legacy admits that the interior and the electrics were of greater concern. Indeed, the whole package gives off the right vibes for style seekers and vintage automobile enthusiasts alike. As Bent said:

“Old school vintage vans command such goodwill in the vintage landscape for truck and car enthusiasts, but the space is in this weird in-between area that sometimes falls through the cracks of the marketplace’s nostalgia. There are few things cooler than a super clean, well restored van.”

And what if you want one for yourself? Legacy’s turn-key Tradesman van commissions start at $45,000, or the company will work on your own Dodge van and give it a similar treatment. Considering the labor alone involved in making this particular van come to fruition, that price sounds reasonable. A ready-to-rock tribute to an underrated era in automotive history? We’re here for it.



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    Had the same orange shag in my Econoline conversion in the early ’70s. 4 mustang buckets sourced from the junk yard for $25/each and a table top made a cozy dinette. Must admit the sound system here looks better than the 8 track I had….

    It may have an LSD… Limited Slip Differential?

    Color bars on side of vehicle, pinstriping/airbrushed stuff, check. It’s Shagadelic! I’ll bring the Pink Floyd.

    Get an 1970’s American Clipper RV made from a Dodge Tradesman. Much more livable and at 21′ very versatile with a dry bath. They also have a club. Most are west coast where they were made.

    In 1976 Dodge put its toe in the “custom van” water. Some basic new Tradesman 100 vans were sent to Rodco in Vermont for custom makeovers. They offered four different interior variants all included shag carpeting on the floor, paneling, curtains, and diamond tufted vinyl. Externally they featured custom wheels, portholes, and accent paint stripes with a basic mural (stenciled sea gulls and palm trees).
    The Rodco Dodges were sold new at Dodge dealers, not sure how many were built.
    I have one, it’s rust free, and purchased from the original owner about 10 years ago. The original interior has been cleaned and freshened, and an external repaint in the original color. I love it, and the original Blaupunkt AM/FM cassette still works great. … Gary V.

    Just like a Travco? I had the same basic stuff in the 70’s Outside orange–inside orange–same opera window same stripe design. It was the best time for truck in’s and large custom van parades. Why this tradition has not continued is beyond me,

    This is the same colour scheme as the Vancouver Canucks hockey club from this era. Is there a connection here?

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