Scarlet Witch Van
It's Like Living In The '70s All Over Again!
Words and photos by Mitzi Valenzuela
From 1970 to 2003 the Dodge B series was a range of full-size vans that were produced by Chrysler Corporation. Most of these were sold by the Dodge division, with others been rebadged versions sold by the now-defunct Fargo and Plymouth divisions.
Many of these vans were created for work purposes like plumbers’ vans or delivery vans. When owners decided to get creative and started adding shag carpet and cool interiors Dodge decided to capitalize on this craze, creating a factory customization package called the "Street Van" package. This package was available from the 1976 model year until it was discontinued in the early 1980s. Fast forward to 2021. Living in Southern California I have seen a huge resurgence of the van culture come back to life. With more vanning events happening throughout California, it’s like living in the '70s all over again. I had the chance to catch up with the owner of the newly restored Scarlet Witch Van, Cooper Olson.
Cooper purchased the 1978 Dodge van back in August 2017. He had been searching thru ads on Craigslist and was hoping to find the right one. After setting up nationwide alerts on Craigslist an ad popped up for a 1978 Dodge in West Canton, Ohio. The van was sold by the widow of the original owner who passed away. The Dodge had only 52,000 original miles on it and was kept in great condition. Cooper decided to find a couple of strangers in the area to go take a look at it before making the purchase. The van also came stockpiled full of NOS parts. An AC unit, carpet for the interior, lights for the ceiling, fiberglass wheel flares, and an 8-track player all in working condition. The van needed some work done before it could make the journey to Southern California so Cooper found a restoration shop in Ohio after purchasing the van. Once the work was completed it began its journey home to Southern California.
Cooper reached out to Charlie at Nevereasy Boogie Vans in Fullerton, CA to get started on some of the exterior work. All new side pipes were added, front spoiler and wheel flares, and new fog lights. The side doors were also switched out to new doors without the windows. A pair of heart porthole windows were also cut out and installed. One of the biggest challenges with the '78 was adding AC. It took several trips to the junkyard to find the right pieces needed to get it working. Once the exterior was done, an all-new set of Cooper Cobra tires were added. Next up was the interior. After searching YouTube and discovering a video of Dave Shuten from Galpin Speed Shop in Van Nuys working on a '70s van, he reached out to him, not even knowing he's considered one of the top builders in the world.
Being a big fan of the late '70s from aesthetics to design, Cooper was hoping to recreate the look and feel of an old living room space or basement room where you would sit around and listen to your old 8-tracks. The height of the American experience to him was in 1978 and Cooper was looking to bring that feel back with his van. After sharing several ideas with Dave, the rest was left for him to create and have fun. The interior was completed with the help of Willy Sopher out in Orange, CA. To finish off the interior a custom overhead console was created to fit all the NOS parts including the 8 track, clock, and two switch panel banks. A custom headliner was also created in wood with inserts. Vintage map lights were added along with LED halo lighting. In the center of it all is a custom stained glass ceiling light created by Megan Geer-Alsop out of Topanga Canyon, CA. A custom cabinet with stained glass was also added to store his 8-track collection. The original motorized couch bed was finally installed to complete the interior. To finish off the van magenta pinstriping was added on the exterior. The van was finally ready to hit the road again. The Scarlet Witch Van is a true time warp from the '70s. What one man hoped to accomplish back in the '70s and never got a chance to, its new owner now pays tribute to keeping his dream alive. Be sure to follow its journey
Before Cooper had a chance to pick it up, I stopped by Galpin Speed Shop for a quick photoshoot. Pictured here are models Seattle and Terra Jackson. Terra Jackson is a modern pinup model and vocalist in Los Angeles. Originally from Niles, Michigan, she holds a history of stage and screen experience. Terra has been featured for her work as a pinup model in several magazines gracing covers and multi-page layouts. In her musical exploits, her single “Fallin’” marks her official debut into the music world working alongside guitarist and producer, Danny B. Harvey. This is only the first of what will become many as she doesn’t plan on slowing down any time soon. Stay tuned. Growing up, Seattle always watched her mom do her own makeup. She always dreamed of the day she got to put on the same shade of red lipstick. Seattle got into pinup modeling after her mom showed her what pinup models stood for. Courage and confidence are what these beautiful ladies all had, she knew by looking at all the photos that this is what she wanted to do. Living in Southern California it was kind of hard not to see classic cars cruising down the boulevard. There was always one that stood out to her and that was a Porsche Spyder. Pinup modeling has enabled Seattle to showcase some of her hobbies like skateboarding. She has been skateboarding since she was 2 years old. Modeling with her skateboard was probably one of the best feelings she’s had in a long time.