Saturday, January 29, 2011

Reactine Van-Man Conversation

This week I had a great phone conversation with Brian Dwight, the fellow who restored the Reactine Van. Brian lives in Los Angeles now, but he is originally from southern Ontario (greater Toronto area). He works in the film business and does lighting mainly. He has worked on the Transformers, Stark Trek and X-MEN series, for example. He told me some interesting things about the circumstances that culminated with the van being reborn. Originally, he said that his customer -- the US-based Pfizer pharmaceutical company -- spent two years looking for a van. At one point they asked him to make one from scratch. Then his daughter found what they believed was one online. It was in a scrapyard south of Mexico City. Well he travelled down there to make sure that it was what they thought it was. They put it on a trailer and drove it back to Ontario. Well, when they crossed the US border, they were detained by US officials. The drug dog got a hit off the van. Brian told me that he thought that they were in trouble and that it hadn't even occurred to them to search the vehicle beforehand. A comprehensive search of the van didn't reveal anything and they were allowed to continue. Brian told me that they have the original registration for the van, and that it's a 1956. He doesn't recall the serial number, but says they took a lot of photos, but that they were "back home" in Canada. So one day we'll get the serial number for the register at some point. When they got the van back to the shop, eight guys worked on it non-stop for three months before it was complete (March 2008). Pfizer was a difficult customer, it seems, because they couldn't pay for the van and instead ended up leasing it from Brain. "You still own it then?" I asked. "Yeah," he said, "It's back in my garage back home. I don't know what do do with it. Are they worth anything?" I had the solemn duty to inform him that J Van weren't that pricey. But Brian's doing okay. He figures that his Pfizer paid his company $250,000 for the use of the van over the terms of his contract. Brian has some parts at his shop. I told him that there was a small community of J Van guys in the world, that his van was well-known to all, and that he should consider reaching out to the Yahoo! group and the register. Brian checked out my blog and told me that I was doing a great job, and that made me feel good.

1 comment:

Bugly said...

Hi Charlie -

Great news item, and a most interesting story on the Reactine van! Bet you were quite chuffed to make contact with Brian, and he to speak to you. I guess the Reactine van was amongst the best known ex-UK classic commercial vans on that continent!

If Brian is looking at your blog and posts, a big "hi" to him from the top of Australia!