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PCH, Not Your Usual Custom Van Edition: Thames Freighter or Tempo Matador Diesel?

Illustration for article titled PCH, Not Your Usual Custom Van Edition: Thames Freighter or Tempo Matador Diesel?

Welcome to Project Car Hell, where you choose the project that's the coolest... and the most hellish! After seeing the Johnson Messenger CB Telephone, we're saying 10-4 to custom van projects!


But we're not talking a boring old Chevy, Ford, or Dodge here. If you're going to go to all the trouble of obtaining acres of deep-pile maroon shag carpeting and diamond-tucked velveteen upholstery, to commission an airbrush artist to create a mural representing an Aztec sacrifice on a Hawaiian beach in a space station, and to hire a 37th Degree Master Bongsmith to craft you a four-footer that matches your chrome exhaust stacks… well, all that effort would be wasted on some dime-a-dozen Econoline or Tradesman. Fortunately, Robert has found us a couple of great vans, either of which would make an excellent starting point for a lifelong deeply fulfilling custom van project. For this, he gets a Project Car Hell Tipster T-shirt (unless he takes a size other than S, M, or L, in which case he'll probably get a random 24 Hours Of LeMons team T-shirt).

Try to imagine that Johnson Messenger CB mounted next to an Octophonic Sparkomatic reel-to-reel deck, in a hand-carved mahogany console. What kind of van would best suit such a setup? Why, a Candy Apple Red Thames Freighter van, of course! We've admired the Freighter ever since seeing this super-original example at the Monterey Historics, but finding an example of Ford's British proto-Econoline is harder than finding a buyer for a foreclosed McMansion in edge-city Bakersfield. Don't give up hope, though, because this 1961 Thames Freighter has a top bid of just $1,200 and no reserve! It starts and runs, sort of, but "the interior needs everything," the brakes need work, and some glass is broken. There's rust. But who cares? Someday it will make this Freighter look subdued!

Ever since we first met the Tempo Matador Hochpritsche, we've had this crazy idea that a full-on custom Tempo or Hanomag van would be the proper way to roll. In fact, a green-themed Tempo Matador, powered by a veggie-oil diesel and sporting a full-body airbrushed rainforest mural, hemp upholstery, and a pyramid-shaped meditation chamber in the back- now that's a custom van! Since most of the Matadors were made with clattery, smog-belching VW air-cooled engines (driving the front wheels), such a project has remained but a dream… until today! Would you believe that this Tempo Matador Diesel van is up for sale? We don't know the reserve price, but we suspect that there's not enough crack in the world to have made anyone feel optimistic enough to set the reserve on this terrifyingly wretched basket-case orphan somewhat challenging diamond-in-rough project much higher than the current top bid of $1,250. The seller doesn't provide any much useful information about this van in his or her description ("I don't know much about it but they are very hard to find in the U.S"). All emailed questions to the seller are answered with the following statement: "The I.D. plt says VIDAL U. SOHN TEMPO WERK HAMBURG-HAMBURG MATADOR ED 1.3 TO FAHRGESTELL-Nr serial # D6303581 wat.2700 lbs 1400." However, there isn't much rust, it appears that most of the glass and trim is intact, and that Hanomag diesel engine might be just a total rebuild a few minutes of tinkering away from rod-knocking roaring into death life!


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Wow, if only automobiles could talk. I bet those two vans would have a ton of stories to tell. It looks like they have been through a lot.