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You wouldn't buy soup from an auto parts store, so why think of buying an RV (recreational vehicle) from an automotive dealer.

You shouldn't, said Dan Cary, vice president of Cary's Vans. RVs are special vehicles requiring special care and service . . . "and RV dealers are the only ones that can sell and service RV's appropriately."And just were do vans fit into the picture? They are, said Cary, "recreational vehicles" . . . and with today's buyers, they are a popular item. One study, he noted, said that 75 percent of the vehicles sold were recreational oriented - motor homes, pull-along trailers, vans, etc.

"And the van is one of the largest areas in the RV market . . . which should be reason enough to work with a custom van dealer when buying."

Cary's has been in the custom van business for 15 years. Along with custom vans it also sells motor homes and trailers.

According to Cary, unfinished vans are ordered in from one of three factories - Ford, GMC, Dodge - and sent to one of custom van builders. The vans have all added suspension, wiring and support structure, but none of the deluxe inside features. It is from the builder that the various vans get the Cary's touches that make them luxury RV's.

"Everything is added according to factory specs. What people don't realize is all the extras that go into one of the vans. The insulation that goes into the ceiling and walls, the added support that goes into the van and all the other little extras," he pointed out.

Among the more popular items that go into a van are directed towards entertainment.

Most of the newer vans, for example, are equipped with color TVs and VCR.

"I've found it's a great way to control the kids. My kids, for example, tell me it's two movies from home to Lake Powell. The kids can sit in the back with headphone and you never hear a thing out of them. It makes the trip a whole lot more enjoyable," he added.

Buyers also have the option of adding the game Nintendo into the van. Another thing that is popular with vans is stereos and disc players.

Cary's also has van for rent. The rental vans come equipped with TVs and VCRs.

Cary's Vans was started by Doug Cary, president, after leaving his zone manager job with Chevrolet. Cary's is currently expanding sales into the international market.