COLLECTIONS: Autech restores classic Nissan Caravan built for disabled passengers

1978 Nissan Caravan Chair Cab restoration 10

Every August since 1978, Japan’s NTV network has put on a 24-hour telethon called 24HTV Love Saves the Earth to raise money for charity. It will soon be held again, and to mark the occasion Autech has restored a 1978 Nissan Caravan used in the very first airing of the show. 

1978 Nissan Caravan Chair Cab restoration 01

Love Saves the Earth focused on raising money for disabled people, environmental causes, and disaster recovery both in Japan and abroad. Nissan was the main sponsor that first year, and even hosted some of the telethon at their old Ginza headquarters showroom. Nissan donated 213 vehicles to charities that year, and has donated over 200 vehicles every year since then. This Caravan, specially equipped with a hydraulic arm and platform that could load a wheelchair-bound person into the van, was the 27th.

1978 Nissan Caravan Chair Cab restoration 05 1978 Nissan Caravan Chair Cab restoration 06

The number 27 Caravan Chair Cab, as it was called, served St Joseph’s Society of Kyoto for 20 years before it was decommissioned. Fourteen years later, in June 2014, it was discovered and sent to Autech for a full restoration by the firm’s craftsmen.

1978 Nissan Caravan Chair Cab restoration 07 1978 Nissan Caravan Chair Cab restoration 09

According ton Nissan, the most difficult part was recreating the hydraulic lift that brings the wheelchair into the van. The lift had been lost, so Autech had to create another one based on old photos. You can see the old arm in action here.

1978 Nissan Caravan Chair Cab restoration 08

Old photos were also referenced for the paint scheme, which was then hand-painted by Wildman Ishii of Mooneyes.

 

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The result is nothing short of stunning. Even the undercarriage looks brand new. If you happen to be in Yokohama area this month, the Caravan will be on display at the Nissan Gallery in the headquarters building on August 27-28.

Images courtesy of Nissan.

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8 Responses to COLLECTIONS: Autech restores classic Nissan Caravan built for disabled passengers

  1. cesariojpn said:

    That lift looks very sketchy.

    • Yoda said:

      At the least, it’s a very different design than the two-post, usually side-door mounted Braun and Ricon ones that were the US standard in the late ’70s and ’80s.

  2. Car Nut Seattle said:

    Lovely looking restoration. I love the colours.

  3. Toyotageek said:

    Sweet.

    My first reaction was …. I hope Tomytec makes it into a Tomica Limited Vintage.

  4. Steve Shailer said:

    hope they are putting some decent tyres on it before it is driven, spare isn’t even legal

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