So browsing through one of the Facebook groups (man there are too many of those groups to keep up with) last year I spotted a thread on the "High Plains Drifter" Dodge van. It's an incredible story of a young man that happened across a van in a horrible state of disrepair and decided to save it.
Then the post popped up again tonight when someone commented on it and I figured out how to save the post as I am LOVING watching this progress. It's slow work, but at least he is trying which is more than most folks would do. I've been dying to save the "Magic Touch" early Chevy I found in the local scrapyard last year, but local laws won't allow them to sell vehicles once they've put them on the books for the salvage yard.
I'll just copy and past in his own words for you all to enjoy. I saved the thread on FB and will try to update here as I see new stuff pop up on the van. Here Goes:
Jesse Millington (Current Owner)
"Let me introduce you to this long drifter forgotten no more!
"HIGH PLAINS DRIFTER" 1977 Dodge Tradesman
Well yes what's left, you all will think I'm nuts and I've gone to far to save a van. Let me regale you on how this all happened because its quite the tale of good and bad timing.
This all began about a month ago when I spotted some turbine rims on Kijiji. It had said they came off of a boogie van, I've had a wanted ad posted for vans and parts for months on Kijiji and hadn't heard yet of this van. I asked the guy if it was still around. He has said they had just sent it away, but I could contact the owner who has the rims and that he may have some extra parts.
I got in contact with an amazing guy named Terry. Terry was a passionate car guy who had to start clearing out over 200 plus cars on his property because his neighbors complained and the county was annexing his land. He told me of this amazing old van he had along with another shorty dodge in the back field. The sad part was he told me that he already asked his friend who owned a scrap yard to come get the van since he had it for sale and no one wanted it. He even told me if I was around two weeks earlier he would have given me the van!
He told me I could still buy the shorty blue van he had, which I did and when I came to get it I purchased the remaining hood and front visor off the Drifter. Somehow I couldn't stop my brain from turning off knowing that the Drifter may still be around and not crushed. After asking Terry the name of the yard, he gave me a contact of its owner. I messaged him and he said that he believed they flattened it. I felt numb, so that night I went on Facebook trying to find an old picture somewhere of the Drifter, I had no idea what I was about to stumble upon.
I literally typed in HIGH PLAINS DRIFTER into a Facebook search and boom a post came up from 2017 from a guy named Gordon asking if anyone knew where the van went. It was like out of a movie, it was a vintage picture of the van, there she was all shiny and complete back in the day. I knew I couldn't let this rest until I seen the flattened hulk myself, even if the van was 2 hours away. I message Gordon who got back to me first thing in the morning and he was in amazement that I knew of the van.
Gordon told me he bought it near surrey British Columbia back in the mid 80s and that from what he recalled the van was built for the show circuit at the Vancouver P&E back in the day. Gordon owned the van for many years until life made him give her up. He sold it to another guy in BC who then let it sit in his backyard for years! That guy put a vintage hood scoop on it and shoved a hopped up 318 under the hood to replace the 6. Gordon after a few years randomly ran into the van in this guys backyard by accident while in BC and tried very hard to buy it back but the guy said the usual "NO I WILL FIX IT SOMEDAY". Gordon left and the drifter disappeared back, forgotten in time.
Fast forward 15 years and Terry bought the van from a guy here in Alberta for his son, who ended up not wanting it. He hung onto it trying to find it a home... no takers. Now I contacted the yard owner again, he is an amazing car guy named Monty. I showed him pictures of the van, he was very sad that it ended up at his yard and that when he got back in town he would see if it was actually crushed. I told Gordon we might have a chance. Sure enough Monty called me and said it wasn't crushed but it was in bad shape on the pile and was filled with metal from a McDonalds renovation.
I relayed this to Gordon and we both anxiously awaited further news. I told him I would come get it at any cost. He still thought I must be nuts. However on my one trip to get the parts from Terry we stopped over to see the Drifter, she was bad and had an F250 on the roof. You think Fords are tuff, so are old Dodge vans. I told him I will take it, just get her down safely. So we arranged a time and he did it. He got the Drifter back from the gates of hell and tonight she comes home, away from the jaws of metal hell to be rebuilt to her original status plus a couple of cool things to add.
The Drifter was built with a special wood floor and custom bar and at one time had all pictures of western stuff and Clint Eastwood pictures hanging inside as a tribute to the movie called.... wait for it "HIGH PLAINS DRIFTER". So sometimes a vehicle talks to you and won't let you wander away. Never give up on your search or your dreams, hopefully someone on here will have more information on the van or pictures!. As the build goes along and Gordon digs out some more old pictures I will continue my story.
Thank you for reading this if you made it through! Me and my buddy David brooks travel everywhere to save vehicles and fix them especially vans. This van is the craziest thing we have ever done period. Enjoy some of the crazy photos! I can't believe she's mine now! Keep on Truckin!"
What an awesome story. Looking forward to more updates.
Arianrhod:2003 Chevy Astro Black Magic: 1985 Dodge B-250 Serenity:1985 Chevy G-20 The Outcast:1983 Ford club wagon Luna 1974 VW bay window transporter Freedom:1990 Ford E-150(parts van) Outcast Vanners van club Support your local 2%