Curbside Outtake: Dodge A100 Van and White Bear Dodge

I spotted this Dodge A100 van, the first I’ve seen for a LONG time, on yesterday’s dog walk. It was a Sunday, the surf was good and the surf vans were out in force, but this one stood out among the Sprinters, Promasters and the occasional Astro and Japanese minivan.

I snapped a few pictures, intending to just send them to Paul, whose own A100 has been featured here at CC. As  I looked at them more closely after getting home, I noticed the White Bear Dodge sticker on the right rear door window. Not the usual dealership sticker, so naturally I looked into it a bit more.

Here’s that sticker in more detail, a sticker that (today) can be bought from several online sites, including eBay and even from MoonEyes in Japan. I’m assuming that it hasn’t been on this van since new. But White Bear Dodge, near St. Paul Minnesota, is still in business, now as Barnett Chrysler/Dodge/Jeep/RAM. They claim to be under the same family ownership as the original White Bear Dodge. I learned that White Bear Dodge has a long performance history that’s well-documented online, but I couldn’t find any dealer ads with A100’s, or even any Dodge trucks, in my search. Just Chargers and even Dart 440 Magnums. All with some pretty wild artwork.

I did a double-take when I read this ad copy: “The Northwest’s largest volume Dodge dealer”. Minnesota isn’t in the Northwest US, at least not since the Louisiana Purchase of 1803, and St. Paul isn’t even in northwest Minnesota. Oh, but in those pre-Internet days, this ad would only be seen by Twin Cities locals, so I guess the dealership was in the northwest part of that. So I checked a map, and indeed the dealership is still at the same location on Highway 61, the route made famous by Minnesota’s own Bob Dylan. But it’s north EAST of the cities, so it’s either a typo of northeast, or perhaps midwest. I’ll never know. But back to cars …

For only $300 less than a Superbee, I assume those Dart Swingers weren’t Slant 6 powered.

Their ads touted their muscle car and racing activities, even a chassis dyno. In the last ad, you can see the same “Scat Pack” decal, only $1 back then, which also got you a performance parts catalog. Today, that decal costs $5 – 10 on eBay, 2100 yen or $14 US dollars in Japan. And the Swinger is explicitly described as a 340.

In addition to the Challenger funny car shown in the last ad, they also sponsored this Charger funny car, with the same driver, Tom Hoover. Some of their sponsored funny cars were available as plastic scale models, and later as Johnny Lightning diecast miniatures.

As seen in this poster from 2021, the dealership – or at least the brand – is still active in the Midwest muscle car scene.