Here’s something you don’t see every day. The Denimachine was created by Hot Rod in 1976 for a sweepstakes. Very few were built, and a friend of my dad’s bought one a few years back and is slowly restoring it
The inside was completely customized too, with Levi’s interior and a Coca-Cola fridge in the back. When this one is all done, do expect a full writeup!
OMG! I thought it was a local Denver radio station (KIMN) that came up with that one. I entered so many times for that thing! Even wrote about it in a 6th grade writing class. What a blast from the past!
I never heard KIMN but understand it to have been a monster Top 40 station back-in-the-day.
Those buff models couldn’t have drunk much of the stuff.
Etymology: serge de Nîmes
“serge de Nimes”: You learn something new every day. I love “useless” knowledge! (Except no knowledge is really useless…)
Why spend money and time restoring what was a backdrop for a publicity stunt?
The Ford vans of this era were slow, clumsy and thirsty; so restoring it for it’s mechanical excellence can’t be a reason.
Because he liked it, he got it cheap, and he is a professional body man, so he doesn’t have to write a bunch of checks to fix it himself. He restored my father’s 1960 356B Drauz Roadster in 1988-95.
Why did you buy your Town Car? Because it gets 40 mpg? No. You liked it, you wanted it, you bought it. You enjoy it. Same deal.
For the fun of it.
Just for the taste of it. (Oh wait, that was DIET Coke.)
I can’t stand the taste of Diet Coke
The Econoline is the poster child for mechanical excellence in vans in this era. Yeah it isn’t a sports car but that isn’t the purpose of a van.
“The Econoline is the poster child for mechanical excellence..”?
Did you ever spend any time driving one of these wide, slow, clumsy automotive penalty boxes in city traffic situations?
I suggest that you have set the bar wayyyyyyy too low, sir.
Don’t take him too seriously; Ford sends him a check every month. 🙂
Ahhhhh….THAT explains that.
So people should only restore what you like, Mr. Reimer? Pretty elitist attitude there. I guess my ’78 Fairmont should be crushed too, no?
I’ve spent at least 10000 miles piloting my Grandfathers GMC conversion van, though a slightly later model 85? with 350 fuel injection and o/d, but basically the same since 73. It had a surprisingly big car type smooth ride, while not fast- had no trouble merging, passing and steep grades.
The steering while over boosted was precise, and the view from the high forward driving position was great for narrow winding mountain roads, you could see beyond corners much better than a Suburban. It had some serious roll bars, and could hustle around corners quite well. The center of gravity was lower than you would think.
The mpg was decent for its size and aerodynamics, 18 was typical on mixed roads,13-15 city. My only complaint was ones legs were limited from stretching out.
If I was going on an epic drive, it would be perfect. I’m certain the Fords were just as good, they were popular.
Umm, all vans of this era were slow, clumsy, and thirsty. Point being, Mark?? Are you just a Ford hater? This is an equal opportunity website: You can feel free to hate any brand here. Or love them.
Suzu, if you have noticed any of my replies on this site, epically my Town Car stuff, then you would know that I am NOT a “Ford hater”.
“Van hater”, perhaps……
Quoting the wonderful Hollywood actress Roz Russell in “Auntie Mame”: “Knowledge is Power”, dear reader. NEVER come to an internet battle of the wits unarmed. Please so some research before falsely and inaccurately accusing me of something that I am not.
And just because Ford seemingly made some of the worst products in the ’70s, thanks to Hank the Duce spending the farm on his racing hard-on’s, doesn’t mean all the products were crap. Because they were not. The Ford Motor Company is still around for a reason.
And that reason is government bailouts, same as GM and Chrysler. If the government hadn’t stepped to help the US auto industry multiple times from the late 70’s through 2008, we’d all be driving Hondas, Toyotas, and VWs today.
Not saying it was a bad decision–I’m a fan of choice and they’re finally making competitive products across the board–but Ford did not survive based on the virtues of their products alone.
Cool. Good luck to this guy. We had converted Bedfords as a prize for radio station 3XY for a couple of years. Nothing in a branded series like this that I remember.
Aus denim machine was a CL Valiant panel van.
another 3XY promotional Bedford van with custom front
Nice find. Never heard of a denim machine down here. Glad its a Val.
Cool! Had no idea they did them Down Under!
Missed a shot of a 3axle CF on the weekend, Aussie never got the facelift CF of the 80s
Awesome! I saw one of these at a Coke museum once. Am I strange for liking this, and vans in general, even though my parents were just kids when the van craze exploded? I look forward to the write up!
And I will admit; I have owned 2 mid-70’s Fords. One was a ’75 Torino Elite that spent most of it’s usable life towing a 2 horse trailer. Trunk was still full of hay when I bought it. Second was a ’75 Granada 4 door sedan. 200 six cylinder. Two of the most horrible cars I have ever owned. The ’75 model year was not good to Ford. Yet, despite not being able to pull the skin off a rotten banana, these cars worked. Everyday. And I am still a Ford dude.
There’s a beauty that shows up at summer shows around here.
Just wanted to say that in 1976 i was 15 years old and won a denimachine and drove it from Coca cola in lexington ky where i picked it up with my dad. drove it to my house where one of the local ford dealers was standing in my driveway the owner of paul miller ford in lexington and laid so much cash on me that i sold it the same day. it was a sad day for me but my dad took me out the next day and bought me a 64 corvette that i use to take to car shows for years. just wanted to pass that story on. Thanks Michael Honican
Great story Michael. If you have any pictures and can write it out a bit more, we’d love to feature your story as part of our COAL series (as well as the C2). Just take a look at our ‘Writers Guide’ and ‘Submission’ pages in the top bar. Cheers
I have absolutely no idea what a denimachine is. But I like these Ford vans because they have a hood, a stubby one but it is a hood.
Those guys are wearing Levi’s Tees so it must have been a 3way deal. Denim as a fabric was living off its rep as a counterculture uniform in the years surrounding 1970. It was the cloth you wore when your weren’t in the disco sporting polyester in its shiny Qiana form. I believe the first designer jeans were just making an appearance about this time for women (Jordache has the look that’s right.) and were about to cut into the market in a meaningful way, so it would not be surprising to see Levi’s go for a traditional ploy with America’s best selling soft drink and a car mag.
You guys remember when it used to be the style for all the cute / hot chicks with nice bodies to wear skin tight, high-waisted, straightleg jeans with their shirts always tucked in? I still kinda like that look on the right woman.
That look lasted from the 60s all the way to the mid-90s before the fashionistas suddenly declared it “wrong”.
That look is making a com back around here. Its kinda too bad winter has slammed the east coast (Canada) with sub zero (-10) weather. As there is nothing more flattering than a long heavy winter coat. Jokingly.
that is pegged to the right on the cool meter!
Tom, have you contacted Hot Rod? They might be interested to know that you have it, they were looking for updates on their old project and give away cars.
No, it’s not my car. The owner is a good friend of my father’s.
Wow, this brings back memories. I was in grade school when this promotion came out and remember the excitement it generated. The Denimachine made appearances in cities and towns up here in the great white north too. Buy a coke, enter the draw and if you could push your way through the crowd check out the awesome interior.
There was a family that went to our church that had the Custom Wagon version of this van. It was like riding in a small bus. We all thought it was cool. They were very large people and needed something that big to get around in. I’m not 100% sure of the name. Nearly 40 years will do that.
Our grade 8 teacher had his own shaggin wagon based on this model of van. Pale green with the tear drop bubble windows in the back. More often than not he would drive away during the long lunch recess so one day we followed. Kid detective work found the van down by the pump house. When the van started rocking we would bang on the sides and be gone before the pants were on. One warm spring day the van was empty so we let the air out of the tires. It was pandemonium in the grades 2 & 8 classrooms until they returned separately of course like no-one could see them walk up the driveway together. He later divorced his wife and married her.
Thanks for reminding me of these awesome memories!
Yup I remember when this came out and they had some of them on the custom car show circuit. I definitely would have loved to have one.
That’s pretty cool. I’ve never heard of these before; of course I was too young to read Hot Rod in 1976 when the contest was happening. When its done, the owner will probably get asked lots of questions about it at car shows. Would like to see before and after photos of the restoration in the final write-up.
This is WAY cool. ’70s custom vans are something Id like to see come back…PRONTO.
They built MULTIPLE COPIES of this?
The Coca Cola chimo van! 😉
People forget that with tightening emissions standards (which were much slower to affect trucks/vans) Hot Rod Magazine devoted quite a bit of the 1970s to the van craze.
The college I went to circa 1995-1999 (and worked in the maintenance dept.) had a 15 passenger Econoline with the 460 V8. I believe it was a 1996 model which was the last year for the 460 before being replaced by the V10. That sucker was almost un-drive-able in the snow without 15 passengers (preferably football players for maximum weight) in it. You could practically light the tires up like it was a Viper.
I remember one of these being in Owen Sound Ontario in the late 70’s. I think its very cool some of these survived–as a Coke collector I’d like one.
I was a Hot Rod subscriber during this era and entered the contest myself.
Never had a use for a van but I did love the skintight jeans tucked into boots look. Cameltoe was popular then but they won’t dare show one now.
re: Cameltoe… Not many ladies wearing yoga pants in your area?
I was a lad of 13 back then and remember those vans well. I also remember that there were a lot of Hot Rod readers that were royally pi$$ed that the mag gave the van scene so much press.
Roger, there was little else they thought they could do in that wretched 1970’s car climate.
Besides they’ve apologized for it ever since.
Including me, Roger.
Nice to see another long forgotten relic being saved and restored .
I can’t remember this thing at all but it’s a cool 1970’s thing .
Jeez, people, why all the internet vitriol directed at me?
It’s ok for YOU to post your automotive opinions here…..but not for me?
Relax….crisis is over…it wasn’t that nasty. You did start it by questioning why someone would want this. There’s no rhyme or reason why folks want certain old vehicles.In this case, it’s clearly a popular culture period piece. The van’s mechanicals have absolutely nothing to do with it, obviously.
Sometimes it’s better to just not question folks’ attraction and passion for vehicles.
Yep, Lesson Learned, Paul.
It was a minor blip on the radar of lifeitsownself.
Hmmmmm, some people here can have rather strong opinions. Certainly not ME, of course.
While I never saw one in person, I do remember seeing it in Hot Rod. Pretty sure I entered for a chance to win one. And, I was one of those people who were both perplexed and frustrated that Hot Rod devoted so many pages to vans for so many years. To me Hot Rod should be about cars, as there were both clubs and other specialized publications for the vanners. I actually did like the custom vans, but thought that cars – of all types, including wagons – should be the sole specialty of Hot Rod. I’d still consider those the “lost” years of Hot Rod.
” Sometimes it’s better to just not question folks’ attraction and passion for vehicles.”
Paul , you just said a mouthful .
I remember the 1970’s Van Craze , it was _really_ weird , many had 4X4 conversions done then never took it off road , etc. .