Bobby is a Los Angeles teenager who buys a customized Dodge van to pick up girls and spruce up his dull life, all while trying to win money racing other vans in order to pay for his own. Written by
Despite the song "Chevy Van" by Sammy Johns appearing throughout the soundtrack of the film, the titular "Van" is a 1977 Dodge B200 Tradesman van (which was prepared for the film by the legendary motion picture car customizer George Barris). The van, purchased at Claude Short Dodge in Santa Monica, California, is the extended version of the B200 Dodge, featuring a 360 cubic inch "small block" Chrysler V8 engine, automatic transmission, and air conditioning. The customization includes a four-foot circular window on the driver's side, a water bed, mirrored ceiling, carpeted and padded walls, drink rack, refrigerator, a TV, a table with a built-in toaster, captain's chairs, and a CB radio and 8-track tape player. Two vans were built for the film. The primary van, which was used for all running shots and interior shots, featured all the customizations listed above. The stunt van (a 1972 Dodge cargo van dressed to look like the primary 1977 Dodge van), was used for the drag racing scenes, and did not feature a full interior. See more »
Although the hit song "Chevy Van" is played often throughout the picture, and the movie itself was retitled "Chevy Van" on re-release, the van in this film is actually a Dodge. See more »
[after a take-out waitress praises his van]
Hey, you wanna go share a joint on the waterbed?
Waterbed? Really? I just love waterbeds.
It's right there in the back.
I really don't have time for a joint. But I got some time for a...
[signaling a humping motion]
Ah... yeah... sure.
[the take-out waitress steps out from behind the counter, making Bobby gasp upon noticing her very large buttocks on her otherwise thin body]
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...this is, above all else, the typical Crown International Pictures drive-in (read "passion pit") programmer. The 1975 Sammy Johns hit record "Chevy Van" is heard repeatedly on the soundtrack (this movie has even been reissued with the title CHEVY VAN), despite the film's title vehicle being a Dodge. Danny DeVito makes only six minutes of on-screen appearance, but countless VHS reissues falsely credit him as the star of the flick. The movie is a comparatively sexist morality tale -- will Bobby find sexual satisfaction through the one-night-stand his customised van facilitates, or must he wait until Tina, the girl of his dreams, gives him the time of day? Still, it is representative of the prevailing carnal dream of male American high schoolers of the time, and on that basis alone THE VAN has, almost in spite of itself, become an artifact of the period that must be referenced in any honest retrospective of the period's popular American cinema...
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