Feature originally published in Truckin’ March 1983
The energy crisis, while also affecting things like the price of home heating oil, along with the dual whammy of smog regs and increased insurance costs emasculated performance cars, created the custom van craze. Some of the most fuel-thirsty vehicles available were heavily adorned with, well, everything including the kitchen sink. Thousands of hours and thousands of dollars went into making them. Then, where did they go? Is this van in a barn or garage somewhere? Where is it now?
Think about it. The van is named “Armed and Crazy.” It is muraled with an Old West bank robbery get-away, a high country cattle drive, and a stagecoach escaping a hold-up. The interior is ranch modern. Montana license plates, right?
The truck belongs to Kevin Barnhart, a life-long resident of Hanover, Pennsylvania. And even he doesn’t know where the inspiration for the Wild West theme came from.
Kevin does know, however, that Armed and Crazy resulted from a family effort. He and his father Claire scratch-built the cabinetry and did the wood work. Brother Steve helped with the carpeting, and Steve’s wife, Diane performed seamstress duties for the project. All of the wiring was done by brother Wayne.
In fact, the only work not done by the family were the dried flower arrangements (unusual but effective) – credits to Curvin Carbaugh of Hanover – and the beautiful wraparound murals – kudos to Harold Harnish of Bob’s Van Shop in Red Lion, PA.
Kevin’s van, a ‘76 Dodge with a 2 bbl. 318, has all the good stuff, including a Sanyo AM/FM quad stereo cassette with Kraco power booster equalizer, Sony TV, built-in refrigerator, and running water. But there is one item which makes this The Complete Wild West Van. Kevin’s Happy Horn plays the William Tell Overture, which is, of course, the theme song of the Lone Ranger.
Neat truck, Kemo Sabe!