By on February 26, 2016

1973 Chevrolet G30 Van Front 3/4 in Junkyard, Image: © 2016 Murilee Martin/The Truth About Cars

You see fairly modern minivans covered with lefty bumper stickers all over the place, but those aren’t proper hippie vans. Given their value these days, a Volkswagen Type 1 Transporter isn’t a proper hippie van, either, because you can’t be a genuine hippie in the 21st century unless you’ve burned all your bridges to The Man’s unjust world and you have no Plan B of getting a so-called real job on the Downpressor Man‘s plantations. A real hippie van is a big, ugly, cheap steel box on wheels, with crude stencils and hand-painted messages on the outside and room inside for a dozen unwashed radicals who know that unless you’re free, The Machine must be prevented from working at all.

Today’s Junkyard Find is such a van.

US Army markings on 1973 Chevrolet G30 Van in Junkyard, Image: © 2016 Murilee Martin/The Truth About Cars

The original owner of this one-ton van appears to have been the United States Army. My guess is that it hauled personnel around the Oakland Army Base or maybe Fort Ord until it finally got too wretched even for the job of delivering potato peelers to the base kitchen and was sold at auction.

"No War" stencil on 1973 Chevrolet G30 Van, Image: © 2016 Murilee Martin/The Truth About Cars

Naturally, non-dilettante hippies would take great pleasure in repurposing a former war machine like this into a powerful weapon of the peaceful revolution of our minds and souls, while your wannabe hippies with day jobs would just slap some LOVE YOUR MOTHER stickers over the Army numbers and call it a day.

Beanbag chair in 1973 Chevrolet G30 Van, Image: © 2016 Murilee Martin/The Truth About Cars

Beanbag chair saturated with scabies mites? Damn right!

"Positive News" found in 1973 Chevrolet G30 Van in Junkyard, Image: © 2016 Murilee Martin/The Truth About Cars

Inside, a 2014 issue of Positive News, which has the look of an ironic humor sheet at first glance — yes, the cover story is about dolphins being declared “non-human persons” — but turns out to be deadly earnest.

Painting on 1973 Chevrolet G30 Van, Image: © 2016 Murilee Martin/The Truth About Cars

I fixed up donated cars for a San Francisco anti-nuclear-weapons canvassing organization when I was fresh out of college. Such organizations need vehicles that hold a lot of passengers and run most of the time, because they use them to drop off canvassers who knock on doors to solicit money for the cause; the more passengers you can fit in such a vehicle, the better. This van would have been ideal for such duties. My guess is that its final owner was such an organization.

1973 Chevrolet G30 Van Interior in Junkyard, Image: © 2016 Murilee Martin/The Truth About Cars

I respect no-bullshit hippie vans, but I felt a connection to this one that goes beyond that. Much of my childhood was spent in a 1973 Chevrolet Beauville half-ton van. It flipped over on black ice on I-80 near Battle Mountain, Nevada when I was six and my family was using it to move from Minnesota to California, but was repaired and stayed running long enough for me to crash it as a teenager.

[Images: © 2016 Murilee Martin/The Truth About Cars]

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41 Comments on “Junkyard Find: 1973 Chevrolet G30 Hippie Van...”


  • avatar
    PeriSoft

    It depresses me that there seems to be no place in the world for those who believe both that dolphins are awesome and should be treated well *and* that Positive News is crazy bullsh*t.

  • avatar
    ajla

    Rent on that van in San Francisco is $1200 and does not include a place to park the van.

  • avatar
    Cole Grundy

    This is my favourite series in the world.

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    Oh here’s one – what was the difference between the Chevy Van and the Vandura?

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    Ha, the beanbag pic.

    “We sliced open the bloated, dead leopard – only to find it was filled with scrambled eggs.”

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    Probably manufactured at the GM Van Plant in Scarborough, now the easternmost part of Toronto.

    The Van Plant was located on the ‘Golden Mile’. A stretch of Eglinton Avenue East that at one point in the immediate vicinity provided more than 15,000 unionized manufacturing jobs. Frigidaire (the original occupants of the van plant building), Inglis appliances, Thermos, SKF, Alcan and General Electric were just some of the organizations. It’s origins were the massive GECO munitions manufacturing facility established during WWII. At one point Rootes Motors even had an assembly facility there.

    Now, all are gone, replaced by ‘big box’ stores.

    When I was in high school, if you had a bad term, exam, etc you could jump on the bus, get off in front of the van plant, start work within a week and a couple of months later show up at the school in your new Olds Cutlass and brag of your job that paid more than the high school teachers were making and had better benefits and pensions provisions.

    The van plant closed down in 1993. It had employed 2,800 workers. Some were able to transfer to Oshawa.

    Models produced in Scarborough were:
    Chevrolet Van (1970–1993)
    Chevrolet Beauville (1970–1993)
    Chevrolet Sportvan (1970–1993)
    GMC Rally Wagon (1970–1993)
    GMC Vandura (1970–1993)
    GMC Vandura HD (1985–1993)

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    Sorry but for some reason the site won’t let me edit my comment above.

    There is a good book about the working life in the plant, written by Solange de Santis a journalist who worked at the plant for about one year. ‘Life on the Line’ it is still available used on Amazon.

    The union for the plant (CAW Local 303) published a booklet ‘You Can’t Bring Back Yesterday’ to commemorate the closing.

    Other companies located in the area and gone include SCM, Sommerville, Pittman/Wajax, Burroughs/Nukote/Unisys, Woolley/Manchester Plastics, and Unicell. VW Canada had there head office, warehouse/parts and operations at Warden and Eglinton for over 25 years.

    And of course the D3 had very large dealerships on the strip, Golden Mile Chev which was the place to go to by Corvettes in Ontario, Donway Ford and Paul Willison Chrysler with its famous moving ‘girl on a swing’ bulletin board. They changed her attire according to the season.

    Would love to read comments with memories from any of the B&B who worked or had relatives working on the Golden Mile.

    A book, named after the TV show ‘Bomb Girls’ was published late last year on the history of the GECO plant. For a while after the war a number of the GECO outbuildings were converted to emergency housing for families. It even had its own school. The GECO manufacturing buildings were connected by underground tunnels and a number of these still exist in the Warden/Pharmacy and Eglinton area.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    Murilee – This may be your greatest find yet.

    I’m impressed with the recent date (April 2014) of the newspaper, which indicates this van was on the road for over 40 years!

  • avatar
    indi500fan

    I had one of these when I lived in Cleveland Oh in those really cold winters of 76/77/78. Even with a blanket hung behind the front seats it was tough to get the interior up to a reasonable temp. Obviously mine didn’t have the rear heater option. But it was great for towing a race car and carrying lots of spares.

  • avatar

    Cause like a princess she was layin’ there
    Moonlight dancin’ off her hair
    She woke up and took me by the hand
    We made love in my Chevy van
    And that’s all right with me

  • avatar

    Driver: these switches do not shut off with the WHAT?!?!?

    Not knowing what that Dymo LabelMaker label said is going to bug me all day. Or at least for the next 4 minutes.

  • avatar
    Big Wheel

    Crabspirits, paging Dr. Crabspirits. You are needed in the OR, stat.

    We also had a Chevy Beauville when I was a kid. What a beast. Nothing like tossing a sleeping bag in the back for the trips Up North in Michigan. Car seats? What car seats?!

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    Hippies.

    Hipppies all around me.

    They say they want to save the planet but all they do is sit around, smoke pot, refuse to get jobs and smell bad…

    Hippies…no…NO…NO!

  • avatar
    shaker

    Hippies don’t bother me. Hipsters, on the other hand… :-)

  • avatar
    360joules

    Bart Simpson: “Ah, cheer up, Dad. You make a great hippie.”
    Homer Simpson: “Ah, you’re just saying that.”
    Bart: “No, really. You’re lazy and self-righteous. And the soles of your feet are jet-black.”

  • avatar
    pragmatist

    I had a ’71 Chevy camper conversion van that had been bought new by my wife’s father. It’s been all over the country including Alaska. Finally retired it just a few years ago.

  • avatar
    -Nate

    I really like the rear bumper as it’s built to do a job .

    Of late I have seen several of these old GM vans with the metal grille , all had nice un damaged grilles , rare thing indeed .

    -Nate

  • avatar
    VoGo

    Damn, Murilee,
    You rockin’ the white van today?


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