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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883


Stand by your Van

Over the years vans have helped entire cultures of people celebrate their unique place in the world, some for the better, and others for the worse. While there are numerous divisions of the van populous, the most prominent can be broken down into four main categories. Each says something slightly different about their owners, or maybe it’s the owners who are trying to say something through their vans. Either way, below are the widely accepted definitions, enjoy. 

The Mini Van:

By far the most common van on the road today, the mini is a family vehicle and most likely driven by a parent. It triples as a daily driver, family vacation ride, and a quiet place to scream into a pillow when your marriage is on the rocks and the boss is at your throat. 

What it says: “I have children, and this is their car…I mean honestly I would not be driving this thing otherwise.” 

Owner Ensemble: Mom jeans, bath robes, anything that looks good in a cubicle.

Smells Like: Discarded juice boxes, dogs, urine, air-freshener tree. 

Biggest Perk: Few vehicles encapsulate the slow strangulation of modern society like the mini-van. 

The Custom Van: 

Like its owners, its existence peaked sometime in the mid 70’s. For a time the custom van was badder than any Camaro and much more comfortable to ride in the back of. In essence it was a rolling sex machine, usually equipped with a bed, heavily tinted windows, shag carpeting, a full bar, and all the fixin’s for life in the fast lane. To a lesser extent it was used for ‘van surfing,’ but the party usually remained inside where you could hear the “Foghat” better. 

What it says: “I’ll do you in the back once my buddy passes out.” 

Owner Ensemble: Tight jeans or leather pants, patchy facial hair, exposed chest hair, greasy skin, purple tinted sunglasses worn at night, TAB can ashtray. 

Smells like: Cigarettes, old pizza, bong water, cheap cologne. 

Biggest Perk: Where else can you airbrush a sword yielding naked chick riding a unicorn without looking like a weirdo? 

Biggest Downfall: Often mistaken for an “Abduction Van.”

The Abduction Van:

Pure and simple, this is the poisonous apple of the van world. It has no windows and a single sliding door perfect for snatching up unsuspecting pedestrians. There is no legal reason to own one of these nightmare mobiles, yet they do exist amongst us.

What it says: “Heater’s broke but it’s nice and warm over here.”

Owner Ensemble: Beard, dirty beanie, shifty eyes, gloves with cut off fingertips, ominously burning cigarette. 

Smells Like: Unspeakable acts.

Biggest Perk: Doesn’t look out of place down by the river.

Biggest Downfall: Doesn’t look out of place down by the river.

The Hippie Van:

Mostly Volkswagens, they’re usually lathered with psychedelic paint jobs courtesy of several hippies sharing a heavy acid trip. The hippie van allows any longhaired peace nik full access to the great American roadways. Unlike the Custom van, there’s more emphasis placed on the kitchen for brewing up granola and herbal remedies. 

What it says: “Am I too stoned to give you a ride? Let’s find out together.” 

Owner Ensemble: Hippie attire, you know the kind.

Smells like: Hippie (Weed, B.O., tear gas, fire hydrant water.) 

Biggest Perk: It freaks out squares like non-other and most will run on naïve political views. 

Biggest Downfall: It gives a cop probable cause for search and seizure even when it’s parked and unoccupied.

So there you have it. Van culture runs deep into the heart of the automotive world and is still evolving to survive as markets fluctuate with prospective buyers. With any luck the van will survive long into the future and continue to provide a platform for car buyers to celebrate their individuality, stereotypically and otherwise.


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