Introducing the CNDYVAN

Introducing the CNDYVAN

As long as I can remember, I have always wanted a Sportsmobile. A van that can go-anywhere and do-anything, all while looking badass. Now that is a van with character. My pops had a 1978 Ford van that he used for camping all over the Northeast, so the vanlife flows in my blood. For the past few years I played around with the idea of buying one, but considering these rigs are >$100K brand new, they were typically always unaffordable. I finally decided to start looking for an older model that I could slowly build up over time, and after several months of searching I found the perfect opportunity and flew to Washington to pick up “Big Red.”


Pop's 1978 Ford
Pop’s 1978 Ford

Big Red is a 2000 E350 with the much loved 7.3 Turbodiesel motor. Not only is the 7.3 a bulletproof motor able to travel 500K miles, it can cruise all day at 16-18mpg. Try getting that with an RV! It was equipped with the Sportsmobile pop top and a “lite” interior conversion with rear bench seat and storage built into the walls. There was no 4×4 and no appliances, which I preferred since it made it affordable. Other than the doors, there was also no windows, which further made the van a great starting point for a build. The previous owner was an older gentleman who had passed away suddenly. It was clear he loved the van, and traveled all over the West with his daughter, and it was from her I purchased the van.

Sportsmobile "Lite" Interior
Sportsmobile “Lite” Interior

Landing in Bellingham I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. The van pulled up to the airport with two girls in the front seats. They rolled down the window and shouted at me: “Hey, want some candy?” Yup, this was the van for me. We connected immediately as she told me stories of their adventures to Baja and shared pictures. It was clear the van meant a lot to the owner, and she was glad to see it go to a good new home.

Want some candy?
Want some candy?

I couldn’t wait to get the van on the road for my first ride back to San Francisco. On the way home I met up with my buddy Adam in Oregon as well as several of my fraternity brothers at Mt. Diablo. The first of many adventures to come.Β Within a few weeks I made the first modifications to the van: a set of rugged wheels and tires to give the van some attitude. The 265/75 tires were the largest I could fit without a lift, and the wider tire also greatly improved the ride of the van over the thin stock tires. I also added a custom license plate to match all the jokes from my friends. Candy-apple red is my favorite color, so it is fitting: The CNDYVAN has landed.

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