The Grey Ghost restoration
This is my customized '61 Corvair panel van. The top was made by a body repair guy who eventually sold the van to an enthusiast, Bill Roloff, an engineer and machinist at the Air Force Base in Sacramento, CA. Bill and I met through his daughter, and I immediately knew I needed that van the first time I saw it in the driveway.
It was perfect for the cross-country trip I was planning; a tour of the States that would include a stop-over in Texas, where the family awaited the return of the prodigal... errr, black sheep. Bill was one of those gruff curmudgeons we all know, a genius with all things mechanical, but a little rough around the edges with people.
Fortunately, my obvious appreciation of his experience and skills allowed me to remain in his presence long enough to express my interest in the van, to which he commented that his price was probably more than I would be willing to pay. I had him right where he wanted me.
Long story short, I was driving the beast within the month, to the amazement of all of my mechanically-inclined family and friends. All three of them. The rest agreed that it was the coolest thing since the Batmobile.
She was a dingy white color, so I painted her beige and named her The Magic Bus (this is mid-70's, folks). But before she was painted, she spent a few months in primer grey, during which time her CB handle was changed to The Grey Ghost.
During the current restoration attempt, I decided to paint her battleship grey again and rename her The Grey Ghost, after the USS Enterprise of WWII fame. The ship earned the nick-name by surviving repeatedly when the Japanese thought they had sunk her. Much like her namesake, the van has lived beyond all expectations, as well.
I have added removable T-tops over the cab and in the rear, over the folding bed/bench seat. The extension of the top behind the cab allows a 6' tall person to stand up without bending their head. You can see out of the top windows easily, but they appear dark from the outside. I also added the sliding, screened windows in the rear, due to the absence of air conditioning.
I replaced the front bench seat with Volvo fully-reclining buckets with lumbar knobs and adjustable headrests. It's amazing what a little bed frame and some coat-hanger welding rods can do.
She sports an air-cooled, 164 cu. in., 110 hp flat six with electronic ignition and dual single-barrel Rochesters from a '66 Monza coupe, through a two-speed Powerglide automatic. The shift knob is on the dash, and is topped with a chrome hand grenade from Pep Boys. The blue on the lightning bolt flag was used on the brake drums, with matching hand grenade tire valve caps.
People keep asking me when it will be finished and I have to remind them that this is not a TV show. It's a process, not an event. ;)
Just after finishing the door paint.