The Melvan: A $100K Piece of Pop Culture?

The Melvan

Owning a van once used by the Melvins may not seem like that big of a deal.

The band never hit it big nationally and is a mostly forgotten relic of the 1990s Seattle grunge music scene. Personally, I loved (and still love) the Melvins and the band’s churning, slow, sludgy metal music. The band toured in a 1972 Dodge Sportsman van, which, in recent years, has sat unused in Washington state.

Even considering the band’s ownership, the Melvan, as it’s known, would be hard to give away, considering it hasn’t been started in years and once suffered an engine fire.

One key element of this van, though, has the current owner hoping he can score at least a hundred grand for the old beater.

According to the eBay listing (which ends tomorrow, so act fast!), the van is also connected with grunge icon and ex-Nirvana frontman, the late Kurt Cobain. The singer is said to have decorated the side of the van with drawings of KISS band members using a Sharpie he stole from a nearby drugstore. He also used the van to drive the Melvins to their shows, before Nirvana took off.

Kurt Cobain's drawing of KISS

Ben Berg, the current owner and seller, acquired the van for free in 1992 from a family member of the Melvins’ bassist. It wasn’t until several years later that he found out about the Cobain connection and now hopes to cash in on the discovery.

At this point, of course, the value of the van goes way beyond any connection to the vehicle itself. It’s not just a van anymore, but a piece of modern art created by a beloved dead icon. I would hope a car like this would be purchased by a museum and put on display for all to enjoy, but it’s entirely possible a former grunge junkie who matured into a rich Microsoft exec will pay a million bucks for it and hide it from the public forever.

Another “art car” created by the music industry recently sold for $60,000. The Maybach 57, worth about $350K before getting torn apart by Jay Z and Kanye West for the pair’s “Otis” video, was sold as part of a charity auction.

If that heap sold for $60K, I would think the Melvan will easily top $100K.

Is there a car associated with pop culture you would love to own?


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  1. There are hundreds of idiots on ebay hoping that some rich person will suffer a brain meltdown and pay big bucks for something unworthy. This is a good example.

  2. C’mon tgriffith, stick with cars. Don’t need more pop culture, especially here. There’s still plenty to talk about with cars, energy, politics, mileage, gas prices, Iran and the Middle East, etc.

    Especially Grumpy today (grin).

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