WORDS + PHOTOS
BY BRENT LIEBERMAN
I went straight to the DMV on my birthday in 1966, as all teenagers did back in those days. To my surprise, I passed the first time and got my license, which I knew would open up a whole world of surf exploration to my friends and me. When my mom and I got home a couple of hours later, two lawyers in suits knocked on our door to tell me that they were delivering a car that I had inherited from a great uncle, who I had met three years earlier when he came out for about a week to stay with us for my Bar Mitzvah!
How stoked was I, a near-new 1955 Oldsmobile? Gas was 25 cents a gallon and the door to the world just flew wide open. My mind was racing to all those places I had been reading about in the surf magazines for years—places like San Diego and Baja.
Shortly thereafter, I sold that trusty Oldsmobile and purchased my first of many Econoline Vans. First thing I did was build surfboard racks inside to hold two boards up near the roof, and the second most important item, a bed.
These improvements made it much easier to ditch school and go surfing, now that my folks couldn’t see my 9’6” in the house anymore. The racks and bed also made it perfect for going on long surfing trips from Baja to the northern most points that felt like Alaska in those days. My first Econoline was a 1961, which had such a small engine that I could slide a brick over the gas pedal on the freeway for cruise control.
The brick would keep the van topped out at around 60 mph, except for the Conejo Grade, which it could do at around 35-40 miles per hour. This image is from one of those trips north to Rincon in 1967 to camp out for the weekend. Driving by and seeing Little Rincon uncrowded like this was fairly common in those days. It was a good sign that we were going to score at Rincon. For many years you could camp right on the 101 next to your favorite break and not be hassled by anyone. Those were great times to be a teenager!