Introducing the 808VAN

Introducing the 808VAN

As I mentioned while introducing the CandyVan back in 2012, my father was a 70’s vanner who loved to camp in his 1978 Ford. We always had vans growing up, although they were used mostly for New England road trips and tailgating at Army football games. But growing up and hearing about the vanlife, I always thought about having a retro rig. And I’ve always wanted a 4×4 too, which was a drawback of the CandyVan. So when I came across this badass 1971 Ford E-300 4×4 Sportsmobile it was a perfect match for my dream project.

OK let me start with a rational explanation for such a purchase: Modern 4×4 Sportsmobile’s are expensive! New rigs are $150K with an 18-month wait. 10-year old vans are still over $60K, and they will likely need work with a decade of miles under them. So finding a 1971 at a fraction of those costs, even if it was a project that needed work and upgrades, was well worth the investment.

NOW on to the emotional side: This Van Is BAD ASS. Watch this video and try not to get excited!

The video above was actually shot in Hawaii where the van was partially restored by one of the previous owners. Anyone who knows me knows I’m a haole boy that loves anything Hawaiian, so this only added to the appeal! The name “808Van” actually comes from the area code for Hawaii, and 808Van is the nickname given to it by the locals.

The van was a barn find in Minnesota several years ago where a man purchased it and sent it to Hawaii for his son. While on Big Island, the van’s exterior was completely restored and repainted, along with engine and driveline updates. From Hawaii, it was purchased by a collector in Palm Springs who could not climb into it, so it sat for most of 2016 until I found it! The overall condition of the van was great. Any rust had all been repaired on the exterior and the updates to the mechanicals gave me confidence it was a runner. The interior was all original and, while also in good condition, did not have any working appliances. This was all good to me since I planned to rebuild the interior anyway.


So after speaking at length with the previous owners and watching all the YouTube videos documenting the work I pulled the trigger and bought a one-way ticket to Palm Springs! I consider myself really lucky to have found this van and purchase it. Over the next couple months I’d hear from several people had seen the van online and wanted to buy it: “I wanted to buy that van!”

To which I reply: “Wait till you see what I have in store for it.”


One Reply to “Introducing the 808VAN”

  1. I never realized that this van was originally from Minnesota. Having one that is basically the same (year, colors, Sportsmobile) in North Dakota, now I have to wonder if they came from the same dealer. Perhaps one guy in their purchasing department just liked them so well that he ordered a few. I could even imagine that one was ordered, sold and then another customer said they wanted one just like it.
    If you ever find out what dealer sold it originally, it would be very interesting. Now I have to look further into the history of mine.