photos by Mark Kawakami
Lurking outside of Gasser Lounge in Redondo Beach is a very welcoming 1973 E100 Econoline modified in the style of the pinnacle of 70s vanning kustom culture. Gasser Lounge owner Mike “Mikey B” Bouchard bought his hard-to-find uncut shorty van (originally deemed the “white whale”) two years ago after a long search and has transformed it into “the Creep Machine.”
“I’m a part of what is known in the vanning world as a 2 percenter,” said Mikey. “Only 2 percent of kustom van owners drive their vans daily.”
Powered by the faithful original Ford 302 workhouse, the “Creep Machine” is versatile as the perfect hauler for Mikey B’s chopper or surfboards. He’s modified it with Crager rims, a mud flair kit, side pipes, and a NorCal wing. He also redid every piece chrome, which perfectly pops off the satin paint job, and recently kustomized his side sliding door to a gullwing door.
“The addition of the Gullwing is my favorite mod,” he said, laughing. “When I first saw the kit, I went on a frenzy and had to buy it. I spent my van budget.”
In the “White Whale” days on her maiden voyage home, Mikey B’s van was harpooned with her two back tires blowing out off the 110 at the Torrance Boulevard. exit as well as overheating, blowing steam from her radiator.
“I was parked for awhile and was on the hunt for spare tires,” he said. “I found a used tire place down road, got some tires and limped her all the way home.
During the transcendence to “the Creep Machine,” Mikey B left his van at a body shop in Huntington Beach for which was supposed to be a three week make-over turned into four months. On his first ride home in his renewed ride, another malfunction, of course, occurred.
“So I was puttin’ it on the 405 only 20 minutes from home when I blew my radiator,” he said. “This is after every piece of chrome was redipped. Somehow the rusty, old, dirty radiator water drenched every single piece of chrome and even landed on my friend’s car tailing me home.”
“I’m going to do the interior and paint, add an air horn, lower the front and raise the back higher,” he said. “The one fun mod I’d also like to do is add flame throwers from the exhaust.” DZ