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Early example of extreme van customizing drops anchor at AACA Museum

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Photos courtesy AACA Museum.

Yarr, matey! The deck’s been swabbed, the canvas a-been hoisted, and while others like her now be in Davey Jones’s locker or still at sea, the H.M.S. Truckie sails on, comin’ in to port to the AACA Museum.

Like many car customizing trends, the custom vanning movement has had its superstars and standouts, and one of its earliest ones, the H.M.S. Truckie, sprang from the shop of Carlisle, Pennsylvania, van builder Fred Marshall Jr. Built around 1974, Marshall began with a 1967 Ford Econoline equipped with an 84hp straight-six out of a 1973 Ford. Bodywork consisted of a closed-off headlamp and grille area, modified headlamps and taillamps, and a big oak front bumper with the van’s nautical name embossed into it, but – like most custom vans – the paint and interior set the H.M.S. Truckie apart.

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Described as a “captain’s cabin” theme, the interior features plenty of wood, “much like the construction of a ship,” Marshall once wrote. Oak covers the floor, walls, and ceiling; the engine cover resembles a treasure chest; and what Marshall didn’t panel with wood he upholstered in gold velour and naugahyde. Aside from the requisite bed, Marshall equipped the interior with a bar, refrigerator, television, stereo, and rope accents.

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The nautical theme mural reportedly took three weeks to paint, and in total commitment to the theme, Marshall even had every bit of chrome or stainless steel painted gold – including the ET mag wheels.

Marshall claimed plenty of show awards during the mid-Seventies custom van heyday, and while many custom vans take on a progressive series of modifications and even entire changes in theme, subsequent owners have apparently seen fit to preserve H.M.S. Truckie in its mid-Seventies period guise, a preservation that will continue with the van’s donation to the AACA Museum’s permanent collection.

Currently in the museum’s detail shop, H.M.S. Truckie will soon go on display, including at the Elegance at Hershey’s Concorso Bizarro.

For more information on the AACA Museum, visit