With car-crazy 1950s Southern California as the backdrop, the Brucker family began operating a very successful enterprise, renting automobiles to various Hollywood movie studios. The Bruckers rapidly amassed a collection of over 1,000 cars, as well as an incredible assemblage of movie studio props and memorabilia. By 1970, Jim Brucker and son Jimmy opened “Movie World: Cars of the Stars and Planes of Fame” in Buena Park, which they hoped would become a major tourist attraction.
To present their collection to the public, the Bruckers hired Ed Roth as their artistic director, who in turn introduced the Bruckers to the famous Lowbrow and custom car artist Robert Williams. During the early 1970s, Von Dutch also gravitated to Movie World, where he parked his bus, which also served as his home and workshop for many years.
True creativity knows no bounds. While this statement certainly applies to all forms of artistic expression, Von Dutch truly personified it. At Movie World, a prosaic 1965 Ford Econoline Station Bus was converted by Von Dutch to serve as the facility’s utility vehicle, with its funky early 1960s styling lending itself particularly well to the already legendary artist’s unique touch. The rear passenger seats were removed, providing ample space for tools, torches and other cargo, while Von Dutch also added an internal fuel tank as well as positive and negative terminals for a 12-volt power supply just behind the driver’s door. As one might expect, the entire exterior of the van was heavily “Dutched”, meaning it features extensive and intricate hand-applied Von Dutch-trademark pin striping and lettering.
Other interesting features include removed headlight trim, a higher-than-stock ride height and wide whitewall tires, with even the hubcaps displaying a neat engine-turned finish around their circumference. The nose of the vehicle prominently features a painted Plexiglas eyeball, intended for Von Dutch’s dog to see the world while riding, appropriately enough, on the van’s “doghouse”, or engine compartment cover.
Offered today as a very interesting working vehicle that was unable to escape the creative onslaught of Von Dutch, this Econoline remains in very presentable, original condition today. As modified, it offers a rare glimpse into the daily life, intense creativity and humor of one of California’s most important cultural personalities.
This car was auctioned off by RM Auctions in September 2009 at the Petersen Automotive Museum, Los Angeles, California.
110 bhp, 170 cu. in. inline six-cylinder engine, single-barrel carburetor, three-speed manual transmission, straight front axle with semi-elliptic leaf springs, live rear axle with semi-elliptic leaf springs, and four-wheel hydraulic drum brakes. Wheelbase: 90"