The legacy of Randy York & the continuing adventures of the Unicorn-
11 months ago i wrote an article about Randy York (RIP) and the reboot of his yellow Chevy ( the Unicorn) Since then, much has happened- here is the story + the updates!
As most of you know, Randy York passed in 2016. We all still feel the loss but I wanted to take this opportunity to take a lighter look back at Randy, the vanner and all around funny dude. Randy was one of the original Vandits members, the Vandits were founded around 71 and were based out of the Valley. Randy remained in the Vandits but more recently was an active member of California Street Vans and held the treasury position.
Randys first van was not the yellow Chevy usually associated with him, but was a 72 Chevy painted black with such heavy flake that it actually looked purple. There is a story that he launched the drive shaft out of this van doing burnouts at a Vandits wedding which tore up the underside of the van…this along with a desire for a ¾ ton AC van may have been an influence in moving on to the Unicorn. Or maybe he had to switch up vans after the Bobs Big Boy statue liberation incident. ( ;
Randy acquired the yellow 76 Chevy ( the Unicorn) in 77. He purchased it as a stock cargo van with no interior. He rolled it like this until about 1981 when he got more serious about customizing it. He and his Dad built the cabinets that are still in the van to this day. One of the coolest and oddest features of the interior was the “cat box”. This was a basically a bed built out of wood forming a box on the floor that could be covered for loading gear on top of it. That feature also remains in the van to this day.
Randy had a different take on exterior and performance mods then most vanners of that era did. He was heavily influenced by European roads race themes which was the inspiration for the two dual Monza exhausts exiting on the left rear of the van as well as Koni shocks and HD sway bars for better suspension performance.
Randy and the Vandits enjoyed a ton of Vannin fun from the 70’s to the 80’s out in the Desert ( some of that ended up in Trucking magazine) , Van Nuys Blvd and at events like Visalia, etc. As you can tell by the pictures, they had a shit load of fun.
Randy did not do much more to the van after the interior, exhaust and other mods, he drove the van as-is until and within about three years after the initial vanning popularity trailed off it went into storage.
Fast forward to 2013. Randy got excited about his van again when other members of his club came back to the scene. Randy futzed with van for about a year and ½ but it remained mostly non-op. When Randy started getting sick in 2015 members of the Vandits and CSV came together to get his van moved from its storage location to Simi Valley to be brought back to life at Fontana Motorsports. Within a very short amount of time his van was cleaned out, his leaking sunroof was fixed by completely replacing ½ of the roof, his custom seats were fixed up with custom brackets and all mechanical systems were checked and fixed as needed including a trans rebuild, Randy enjoyed the in-process pictures of his van even as he got sicker. We strived to get Randy into his van one last time, but the cards were stacked against us and Randy passed away before we were able to make that happen.
Although Randy is no longer with us, his club members bring the Unicorn out as often as possible and it is like having a part of him always with us. I like to think that although we could not the van ready in time for Randy to get a final ride, we were able to create a lasting tribute to one of the funnest and loudest dudes we knew.
In December 2016 i purchased the Unicorn from Randy's widow. it was an incredible honor to become the caretaker of this van. I pledged to keep it original as possible while maintaining it in all regards. Based on a significant amount of damage to the passenger side of the van i opted to have the paint shop that had painted the roof previously do the rest of the paint and body on the van in the closest to Chevy factory yellow we could find. The results are impressive. Clean and simple. Just the way it should be. On to the next chapter-