Saving Sliding Doors: My Dream of Buying Every Van in Existence
What would Frank do if he won the lottery? Save the vans. That's what.
The Mega Millions jackpot came and went earlier last week. Some lucky individual is waking up today a billion dollars richer. We all have played the lottery at some point. Although the odds of you getting struck by lightning twice are greater than you winning the lottery, we all imagined what we would do with our rhetorical winnings. I sure did, and my dreams are a little different than most. While some would buy a fancy house and fill the garage with all of the exotics and muscle cars of current and yesteryear, I would take a little different approach. I would peruse the Craigslists and Marketplaces of the world and purchase every van that was for sale. I call it “Saving Sliding Doors”. Here are some highlights of my rhetorical collection:
Daily Driver: 2013-2018 Ford Transit Connect Wagon
This will be the van that sits outside my front door for quick runs. Albeit, all vans mentioned below could be daily drivers, but this one is the “practical” one.
Ford built this one-off ST equipped Transit Connect; I'm mad they didn't make one for me
I have been driving my 2016 Transit Connect for over 2 years now, and will drive it for another 200 as long as I don’t wreck it RallyCrossing. The van will be a wagon spec to carry passengers. The only modification done will be a Ford Focus ST powertrain swap. Focus ST powertrain would give the van the amount of power it deserves: 250hp.
Track Van: Dodge B1500 Ram Van
The track day machine. The weekend warrior. As you watch Mustangs and Corvettes and BRZs rip around the turn, you see this behemoth rumbling behind.
I never had any initial interest in traveling to Japan. That was until I discovered Dajiban. A group of geniuses modify and track the heck out of some Dodge vans and rip them around courses. I want all of it. My build will be similar to theirs, but with a few changes. They modify the stock 318 or 360 engines in theirs, but I want more power. This beast will squeeze a 6.2L Hellcat engine in that doghouse. It will scare the heck out of me, but I’ll love every second of it.
Rally Van: 2013-2018 Ford Transit Connect
I got in to SCCA RallyCross two years ago. I brought my plain white Transit Connect cargo van to my first event and was hooked ever since. Going sideways in a van is a riot.
Not pictured: the handful of cones I hit on this run
I tried to find a different van for every application, but I made an exception here. The MK2 Transit Connect already is a proven winner around the cones. Now, imagine it with the Focus RS powertrain. 350hp and AWD in a VAN. I’m drooling just typing about it. My current van earned the privilege to be the donor for the RS powertrain. I could throw a cage in it and try to actually rally it too. Who knows?!
Drag Van: Dodge B2500 Ram Van
You hear a loud roar of an engine. Tires are squealing and producing a cloud of smoke. You think, “Woah, another muscle car is staging on the strip”. Your jaw drops as the smoke clears and you see a set of sliding doors lining up at the tree.
Imagine losing to a van
I drove a really beat up 1996 B2500 Ram Van for a few years. I named her Patty. I knew it wasn’t going to be my forever van (mainly because I bought it for $200 and came with an array of issues). But it was my first full size van I owned. I want to pay homage to Patty, and build a drag van that can shake the earth. I’ll find another 1996 B2500 (there’s millions of them out there), and stuff that famed Hellephant crate engine in the doghouse. Whatever it takes, that Hellephant is going in there. I will settle for no slower than 10.0 second passes. We might need more parachutes to slow Patty II down.
Drift Van: Toyota Previa
Sometimes you just want to go sideways in a high RPM van. Sure, the Hellcat swapped track van will do that with ease. But this will be dedicated to eat up tires around a course.
Inspiration comes from Tofu Drift Van
My first van experience was my parents’ blue Previa. I was hooked immediately. I was so intrigued by the mid-engine layout, cavernous interior, and funky styling. I’d probably be driving it now if my older sister didn’t total it years ago. That mid-engined format gives us plenty of room for activities. Let’s throw a 2JZ-GTE in that thing and let the turbos go nuts.
Overland Van: Ford Econoline V10
Besides for off road capabilities, I'm not exactly sure what the difference between this and a camper van is. Regardless, this will be a monstrous 4x4 van to do overland activities in.
Needs more light bars if you ask me
I drove a V10 Econoline once in college. Our university’s fleet consisted of several Econolines, including one with that Triton V10. It pulled hard, and it kept pulling. I’ve wanted one ever since. Throw in a 4x4 conversion, some gear, a tent, and some other goodies. Nothing except a narrow pathway can stop me.
Camper Van: Volkswagen Westphalia
The classic camper van. One you can putter to your lakeside and enjoy the glorious views. Plus, you can gaze onto the scenery as well!
Lot of room for activities in there
This was an easy choice. The classic, no BS, camper van. Severely underpowered, but that can be fixed with a few modifications. Are they currently surging in price? Heck yeah. But this rhetorical situation provides me with all of the monies, so I’ll take the finest one out there.
Cargo Van: Ford Transit EcoBoost
Usually, people hit up their friend with a truck for moving just a few items. When they need to move half a house, they’ll call me up with my cavernous cargo van.
This thing is huge
I did about two minutes of research on which full size van had the largest cargo capacity by volume. All signs pointed to the Transit van with extended body length and high roof configurations. There is as much room in there than some New York apartments. This van will also be properly equipped with the 3.5L EcoBoost engine. Of course, I will tune said engine for maximum power!
Passenger Van: Chevy Express
Sometimes, you need to move an entire family and a few hitchhikers. I’ll hop in my passenger van that can seat up to 16 individuals. Let’s see your SUV do this!
This thing just wont die
The ancient relic that just won’t die! One of the longest lasting body styles that’s still for sale out there. Is it an ‘03 or a ‘20? Who knows! The secret weapon here is the engine. Chevy now offers a behemoth 6.6L gas V8 as an option. Throw a turbo or two on it, and you’ve got yourself a bullet train. Imagine the looks of the 15 passengers when I floor it with rocket-like acceleration.
Car Show Van: 1984-1990 Chrysler Minivan
This van is the one I will leave alone. I won't swap the engine or boost the heck out of it like the others. It is also one of the harder ones to find in pristine condition. I will show this one off at car shows and such. Or I will just stare at it in awe of its classic glory.
It's so perfect.
The minivan that kick started a revolution. If I can find a first-generation Caravan with the turbo 4 engine and a stick, I will pay great amounts to have it in my possession. Bonus points if it has wood siding.
Tow Van: Ford Centurion
Half of the vans on this list may not be smart options to drive on the streets. And if they are, not for long distances. I’ll have to tow those race vans across the country. Why not pick up a van to tow the vans?
I'm counting this as a van and you can't tell me otherwise
The Centurion is just awesome looking. It looks like a semi-truck that hasn’t fully grown yet. Comes equipped with a living space in the cab when the trips are a little long. I would like it to be able to tow at least two vans at once with it.
Monster Van: Literally any van, just put giant tires and a huge engine on it
“Because I can.” That’s the answer to everyone’s question of “why make a monster truck out of a van?” Additionally, a monster van can crush all the puny crossovers that are killing the van market.
I know it's a toy here, but it's what I'm imagining
Bigfoot monster trucks did a few “vanster trucks” with Econoline and Aerostar bodies. One even had two speedboat engines and tank tracks (Fastrax, I'll buy the last one in existence). I have no preference on what van to use here. Just lift it on ginormous tires and put a huge engine in it.
Just Because Van: Ford Aerostar
Sometimes, you don’t have an specific application for a van. You just want the van because it is too cool not to have. It can daily, it can carry passengers, it can carry cargo, and it can race (spoiler-almost all vans can do that).
The Radder the better
The Aerostar is one of my favorite vans. I love the wedge design and the RWD configuration. The rare manual Aerostar can be found here and there. This imaginary version will obviously have a stick, but with a little surprise. Let’s cram the fancy Yamaha tuned engine from the Taurus SHO in the Aerostar. Now you have an Aerostar that RIPS. Ford should have done this back then. I should run Ford.
So, there you have it. My weird obsession with vans put into words. Now I just need a large sum of cash to appear in my bank account. What say you? What’s in your van garage?