The 70s were allegedly a great time to be alive. It was the golden age of music, hippies roamed the countryside preaching peace and free love. North America saw a culture explosion that would help dictate the next several decades. But as with every generation before the next, there are those aspects of the times that people would much rather forget... like the 70s trend of "pimping" out the backs of the duly named "shaggin' wagons."
Back then vans didn't take kids to soccer practice, they were essentially bedrooms on wheels
The full sized vans of the 70s were the furthest thing from what we have now dubbed the mini-van. They weren't filled with screaming children, there was no middle aged mom sitting in the driver seat wishing it was still the 70s, and safety features were the last thing on the owner's mind. The bedroom on wheels version of the 70s may as well have had a giant sign attached to the side that said "no kids allowed".
In fact the interiors were not the only parts of those vans that got the all-star treatment, the exterior side paneling was often more tricked out than even the interior, the crazier and more colorful the better. It was a full scale rebellion against the status quo and a perfect vehicle (pun intended) for self-expression.
The 70s was the decade of sex, drugs and rock n' roll, and you could fit all three into the backs of these vans. Do you remember the scene from Fast Times at Ridgemont High where Jeff Spicoli (played by actor Sean Penn) comes spilling out of the side of his van followed by a cloud of hazy smoke, you can even see the padding that he has laid down on the floor.., I wonder what they were doing?
The vans were a symbol of freedom when cruising the open road was still an option for many.
They were also symbols of a person's individuality, about living life the way they wanted to live it. The customized vans did seem to die out as the world entered the 80s, and they are not likely to be seen again. Let's be honest, a van with a custom paint job of a wizard riding a dragon while smoking a giant doobie is likely to end up pulled over on the side of the road with the driver in handcuffs on his way to county lockup.