Miss Vantastic: Queen of the road | Space | Chicago Reader

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Miss Vantastic: Queen of the road

Once a tailgating refuge for Notre Dame fans, Becka Joynt's van is now a moving mural and shag-carpeted time capsule of 70s-era van culture.


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Let's be honest—a camera crew on the side of the street fawning over a righteous-green, 1970s-era van is bound to raise some eyebrows. Within the first 20 minutes of our loitering around Becka Joynt's sweet ride, two different passersby stop to make an offer.

"I'm not selling it, uh-uh," Joynt tells them.

Joynt discovered the '77 Dodge Tradesman 200 on eBay in 2002. Once a tailgating getaway for Notre Dame football games, the van still has Fighting Irish decals gracing the exterior. "I've chosen not to remove them because that's part of the provenance of this vehicle," she says. "I'm trying to keep it as original as possible."

Not the biggest football fan, Joynt bought the rig—perfectly nicknamed Miss Vantastic after the custom shop in northern Indiana that decked it out—as a touring van for her now-defunct band Quatre Tete. "It wasn't the best idea because nobody had a seat in the back," she says. "If you stopped too fast, all the gear would fall on you."

Green shag carpeting climbs the walls, making surfaces cushy and cozy. A back bench, a bar with a fridge and sink, and "lounging" space make the shaggin' wagon look like something Greg Brady would find far-out. Though the design seems a bit over the top, Joynt says, "It's relatively tame compared to some of the other old street vans still existing."

Believe it or not, it wasn't the interior that sold Joynt on the van, but rather the mural on the side that features two eagles soaring over snowcapped mountains. "Once in a while, you have something you're really drawn to—maybe it's a piece of jewelry or a piece of clothing. I felt that connection with the van, and I decided that I had to have it."

Joynt caught the auto bug from her father, a classic-car collector. The first time she brought the van home, he scoffed. "He just laughed at me, and then he had his friend come over and he laughed at me," she says. "But I love it, and I don't care what they say." After spending a winter in his garage, Miss Vantastic eventually endeared itself to Joynt's dad; he discovered her charm was worth saving.

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