Tony Cardena's Short Van - Back to front.

I'm pretty sure the name on the front of this van is "Tony Cardena". I can't find any trace of such a man on the web, but there is a Tony Cardenas in L.A., involved in local government. I don't think that's him. In any case, I want this van. It's called "Spaced Out" by the terribly clever creator.

This is what they call a "section" job. The vehicle is cut vertically in two places, and a section of the body is just removed, like sliced bread. It looks like they took out about twenty inches of wheelbase in this case. If you put enough power to the rear wheels, a van like this will wheelie pretty easily. Note the wheelie bars just aft of the rear wheels. By the looks of the chubby tires and side pipes, "Spaced Out" probably spent some time pointed skyward.

It makes the car almost always harder to drive. The steering gets sensitive and very twitchy, making it tricky to drive at low speeds and crazy at high speeds. This is all theory, though. I've only heard about sectioned hot rods - never driven one. Maybe you could do some tricks to slow down the steering, bringing the car back to sanity?

But that's not the point. This mechanic took a van, already a tall and kind of goofy looking thing, and made it shorter, which has the net effect of making it look even taller and goofier. Hooray for crazy mechanics with a sense of humor! I want a goofy van like this one.

"Spaced Out" is very much a 60's / 70's kind of hot rod. Hot rod designers like Tom Daniel made funny or weird looking cars, like this van. If you watch any of the gearhead shows now, you'll see that hot rod builders these days are obsessed with making scary or "badass" cars that reassure the owner of his masculinity. What are they afraid of? Why do their cars need to convey menace? I prefer ridiculous rods.

When I lived in Orange, California, I used to occasionally take a drive to Art Supply Warehouse, in Long Beach. Right near the store was a brake shop that had a sectioned van like this one, all in black, sitting by the street... sort of on display. I heard it had no motor, making it less of an object of lust for me because I definitely would want to drive my pudgy, nearly undriveable amputee van. I didn't have any money at the time anyway. I could barely afford my imported Japanese drawing pencils.


Dan said...

Awesome. Most rodders I know use the term "sectioned" to describe a vehicle that's had a horizontal section removed from its sides, underneath the belt line. I've always called these "shorties," though I've also heard them called cut-and-shuts.

Phil Are Go! said...

Hmmm. In my head, "sectioning" is shortening the length of a car, and lowering the roof is "chopping". I was able to find evidence of the word being used both ways. What gives? If we can't rely on hot rod guys to develop a totally consistent lexicon of terminology, WHO CAN WE TRUST? I feel betrayed. I think you should consider feeling betrayed too, Dan. Thanks for reading!

Anonymous said...

Old Hot Rodder here........
When a roof is cut lower it is "chopped", when a body is cut to reduce height it's "sectioned", when the body is placed lower on the frame it's "channeled", and when the vehicle is shortened it is a "shortie". There are many books on custom cars that will explain these terms in detail.

Phil Are Go! said...

Hey, thanks for the explanation, Nonymuss! Though I really like old rods, I've never read about how to make them. I appreciate you lending us your expertise. Please comment again and help keep us accurate.

P.S. I was only joking about old hot rodders being inconsistent, of course. Thanks for reading!

Anonymous said...

I worked for tony in the late seventies at his Custom paint shop in santa clara ca. Awsome painter great guy.

Anthony James Cardenas said...

Wow! Me and my nephew were here at my brother's wedding and were talking about my brother Tony and his Spaced Out van, and decided to google his van. This picture and article popped up. Yes this was my oldest brother's creation. unfortunantly he was killed several years ago, but I am glad to see his van lives on here on the web.

Rudy Cardenas said...

Boy... Does this bring back memories. Tony (my brother)was just a year older then me. He was the brain child behind this creation. He had moved his family to Calif. from Colo. in this van, before he customized it. His custom body and paint shop was located behind my work so every day after work I would go over to (sometimes help) and see what he was working on. I remember when he cut this van in half. When it was all said and done he wanted to name his masterpiece. I through a few words out there and the van had it's name. The van acually drove very well. With a 11.5 inch drive shaft and a v-8 engine this van could pull a wheely with very little effort. Tony pulled wheelies evey chance he could. Last I heard this van was sitting in a backyard at his sons home in Denver. Hopefully I will get a chance to see this van again on one of my trips there. "Keep on Truckn"

PhilAreGo@gmail.com said...

Thanks for commenting, Rudy! It's great to have Tony's brother's reading this post. I love his work and sense of humor.

Also, this would have been a great name: "Vn" It's the word "van" with the middle removed. You're welcome.


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