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#412686 - September 22nd 2010 4:30 am 2010 Cannonball Run Ambulance Re-Restoration
Travis Offline

Registered: July 13th 2004 12:00 pm
Posts: 57
Loc: Indiana
Howdy all,

Have you ever owned a vehicle that you swore was cursed? Just checking . . . Ok, well, the 30th Anniversary of the Cannonball Run Movie is next year so it's really time to quit dickin' around and get the show back on the road. First off, I spent about 15k at a local Indiana body shop (2 years ago) and the paint flew off. Seriously, the jams weren't scuffed, under the signals, etc. So, I got really pissed off and basically parked the Ambulance in a basement in Alabama (not kidding). That means the $1000.00 worth of decals on shitty paint becomes worthless (tad pissed). SOOOO, after two years of sitting, I returned to Alabama two weeks ago to visit with my ol' friend CPT KAOS. I walked past the other vehicles in damn near permanent storage and found him in the same place I left him two years ago. I have an emotional bond with this old van; I also have a stupid financial bond with this old van. The damn thing wants to run, and run like hell! I just have to get past all the bad luck I've had with it. I understand it's a rolling experiment, not very many people have a 502 big block stroker in a 78 Dodge van. I just set out to check off one of my last childhood dreams, THE TRANSCON MEDI-DAMN-VAC! So there he sat, in a cold, slightly damp basement. I ran my hand down the side, checked out some of the things I already knew I had to fix, and realized there was a HUGE gash in the side of the driverís side rear tire ($270 tire). So, I installed the full size spare and jumped in the driverís seat. Everything looked and smelled the same, so it was time to hear the 502 come to life. Turn the key = dead. Auxiliary battery = dead. Off to find a jump box! Jump box hooked up = nothing. What the hell now?!?! Off to retrieve jump box #2. If the damn thing didn't start this time, I was leaving it to die. Turn the key, crank, crank, crank, pump, pump, pump, crank, crank, crank = jump box getting weak. Now, the Ambulance has two Holley Red Fuel Pumps (only really needs them on the highway) so, I checked which tank is on, hit the pump for that tank, and turned the key. BAAARROOOOOM! ! ! ! What a badass mofo! Honestly, the Ambulance (especially in a basement) sounds like a Winston Cup car. I backed it past all the other cars left for dead out into the Alabama sun. There he sat, my last childhood dream and largest money pit ever, The Transcon Medi-Vac, slowly falling apart. I drove it over to my friendís body shop (that why it's in Alabama) and started to remove everything. I got a hotel in Alabama and stayed there for four days, just to get it close to primer again. Four friends and myself worked on him day and night like mad men! All of this took place two weeks ago. When do you stop, when do you throw your hands up and say "I give"? I have restored countless 69 Dodge Chargers, 74 Monacos, and this crazy ass, one year only, 78 Dodge Royal Sportsman is kicking my ass? I have purchased five 1978 Dodge vans just to fix this one?!?! While I was down there I actually realized I needed more parts so I bought another 78 thatís in Oregon! Dammit man, whatís wrong with me?

So, I have a goal to get him done in time for the 30th Anniversary of the movie. I want to drive him to Vegas for Mopars at The Strip and The Hot Rod Power Tour. Finally, it will be my turn to run the Cannonball Run. I did it in 04í in an orange Dodge Charger, now it will be for real!

Finally, if you need any 1978 Dodge Van parts, I have a barn full of them + some 75ish parts also. I also just bought another complete 78 Maxi Van, which will be on its way to Indy soon! Email me with ANY parts you may need. Also, I still need that lower piece of BIG trim between the passenger door and front wheel opening (THIS IS 78 ONLY).

Completely unrelated, I saw a 78 Dodge at the Speedway Gas Station in Greenwood, Indiana on Sunday. I about wrecked my Magnum to turn around in time only to see him heading south on US 31. If the owner of that 78 Dodge Van (restored) needs parts, dammit, I gotíem!

Welding up the front fenders (rust issues).

Sanding and priming the drivers side.

Roof sanding and priming.

Doors scuffed and ready.

78 Parts Van in Oregon, who needs parts or a Van when I'm done with it?

78 Parts Van in Oregon

78 Parts Van in Oregon

78 Parts Van in Oregon

78 Parts Van in Oregon

#412688 - September 22nd 2010 5:18 am Re: 2010 Cannonball Run Ambulance Re-Restoration [Re: Travis]
newkirkinc1 Offline
Old Timer

Registered: February 10th 2002 12:00 pm
Posts: 20632
Loc: Pittsburgh,Pa USA
Well after all that it is looking good.Hope you get to run the tour in it.Very nice parts van,almost to nice lol
Jim & Lucy Newkirk
Three river vans
1981 Chevy-the Love Shack
1999 Chevy Van
2012 Chevy Van

#412707 - September 22nd 2010 8:38 am Re: 2010 Cannonball Run Ambulance Re-Restoration [Re: newkirkinc1]
Superbeast Offline


Registered: October 25th 2001 12:00 pm
Posts: 28121
Loc: Dayton, New Jersey, U.S.A.
I live stories like that too! Sometimes I wonder if it were not for bad luck, I wouldn't have any luck at all lol Looks like you should have no issues with your paint now. Too bad the other guy messed up. I thought you were near done with this project.
Ken Schwarz
Tricky Truckers, N.J.
Van Clan Plus One, Canada
Manse Vans, Finland
Rebel Vanners, N.J. "USA"
Toopa Sinner Tribe, N.C.

"Coolness ALWAYS trumps comfort"

#412724 - September 22nd 2010 8:58 am Re: 2010 Cannonball Run Ambulance Re-Restoration [Re: Superbeast]
draggnastro Offline

Registered: May 09th 2006 12:00 pm
Posts: 4460
Loc: Springfield, Illinois
Parts van! that looks like it belongs in a show and shine!
2003 Grand Caravan

Member Vanatics Van Club-Spfld, IL
Member Florida Van Council
Member Central Florida Vans,-Orlando, FL

#412734 - September 22nd 2010 9:08 am Re: 2010 Cannonball Run Ambulance Re-Restoration [Re: draggnastro]
liljack Offline
co-chairman, Southeast Van Council

Registered: February 06th 2005 12:00 pm
Posts: 1673
Loc: Decatur, AL.
Where in Alabama was it? I really love this van and would have loved to help sand that thing, just to hear it run.

Bama Vans Motto: Use It Up, Wear It Out, Eat It All!

The magic carpet waits for you, so don't you be late - Jimi Hendrix

#412743 - September 22nd 2010 9:22 am Re: 2010 Cannonball Run Ambulance Re-Restoration [Re: liljack]
NateNCBV Offline


Registered: August 23rd 2005 12:00 pm
Posts: 20415
Loc: Brooklyn Park, Maryland, USA
Oh my's almost a shame to part out that maxi van!

I'd like the front marker lenses if you're not using them. And also the left front fender trim.

Sorry for you bad luck

"I'm Capt. Chaos and this is my trusty sidekick Kato..say hello Kato!"
Nate Breece
North Chesapeake Bay Vans
1994 Dodge B250 Elk Conversion (5.2L/A518)
2008 Dodge Caravan (3.8L)

#412789 - September 22nd 2010 12:35 pm Re: 2010 Cannonball Run Ambulance Re-Restoration [Re: NateNCBV]
Reed Offline
carpal tunnel

Registered: August 27th 2001 12:00 pm
Posts: 8498
Loc: Fircrest, WA
I am looking for two complete functioning 1978-only instrument clusters (everything- speedo and all the gauges). Let me know if you have them. Thanks!

And, yeah, that Maxi in Oregon is too nice to part out.
Windows- they're what make a van worth owning!

#412819 - September 22nd 2010 2:28 pm Re: 2010 Cannonball Run Ambulance Re-Restoration [Re: Travis]
Travis Offline

Registered: July 13th 2004 12:00 pm
Posts: 57
Loc: Indiana
Howdy all,

First off, the Ambulance is in Oneonta, Alabama about an hour and a half south of you Mr. liljack. Also, the Maxi Van is a nice rig, I need tan 78 interior parts, molding, exterior clips (unless you know where to get the big ones that hold the trim on, on the bottom). That little piece of big trim I have been looking for. The Maxi Van is a 360 rebuilt with 55k, the van has a few electrical issue but nothing major. If you think that one is nice, you should'a seen the one I got in Canada. Both of these Vans have cost more to ship than to purchase. I have perfect 78 Dodge front seats to put back into the Maxi, they're just maroon. I do not need any body parts, I actually don't need any engine stuff, just tons of nik-nak crap. If any of you would like to meet up in Alabama, I'm probably gonna run back down there October 10th - 13th, I think. I really need all the clips I can get to hold the trim on (top and bottom).

Thanks again for the help over the last 4 years. . .

Travis (now apparently the 78 parts king)

Canada 78 Dodge being picked up in Canada.

Canada 78 Dodge dropped off in Indiana (this Van is in the mighty junkyard in the sky)

Iowa 78 Dodge (I hauled this one home)

Iowa 78 Dodge (also in the mighty junkyard in the sky)

Edited by Travis (September 22nd 2010 2:52 pm)

#412831 - September 22nd 2010 3:18 pm Re: 2010 Cannonball Run Ambulance Re-Restoration [Re: Travis]
Travis Offline

Registered: July 13th 2004 12:00 pm
Posts: 57
Loc: Indiana

75 Dodge Ambulance (No Title) out of Pennsylvania - also in the mighy junkyard in the sky. I also hauled this one home.

75 Dodge - these photos were taken in 2005 - that's how long I've been working on this. I still have the hood, grille, and front two doors if needed.

The back end of the 78 Dodge out of Atlanta (sliding door van) that became the Transcon Medi-Vac. You can also see where the Canada Van went. The Atlanta Van had the big back door which we converted to the double Canada doors / and side windows. I still have these wheels (5 of them) if needed.

78 Dodge out of Atlanta (I flew there and drove it home). You can still see the big Dodge door sitting inside. This van was a Tradesman Cargo with a slider and conversion inside. The van had a 360 with little rust and the much needed slider door. The window conversion went in smoothly and to the factory welds. Basically, you'd never know it didn't come from Dodge that way.

Edited by Travis (September 22nd 2010 3:21 pm)

#412864 - September 22nd 2010 4:36 pm Re: 2010 Cannonball Run Ambulance Re-Restoration [Re: Travis]
Reed Offline
carpal tunnel

Registered: August 27th 2001 12:00 pm
Posts: 8498
Loc: Fircrest, WA
Any chance you save a couple instrument clusters?
Windows- they're what make a van worth owning!

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