Back in the 1960s and 1970s, quite a few Midwestern RV manufacturers would take new Chevrolet Step-Vans and build them into motorhomes. Most spent productive decades ferrying retirees between Michigan and Florida, then settled into long-term retirement in driveways and dirt lots, serving as homes for many generations of raccoons, possums, and wasps.
The Volkswagen Vanagon has a global cult following, for reasons I have never understood, and the Westfalia camper version is an object of heavy-duty veneration among Vanagon zealots. You hear about the crazy prices that any Westfalia Vanagon will fetch … but it turns out that most serious Volkswagen fanatics are too cheap to pay the prices they quote so knowledgeably. So, rough examples of the Vanagon show up often at cheap self-service wrecking yards.
Here’s an ’82 that I found last week in the Denver area. (Read More…)
Let’s face it: Nobody wants to drive what their parents drove, even if it’s the right vehicle for the task at hand. Minivan shoppers balked at their parent’s station wagon, and CUV shoppers seem to believe that minivans are the gateway to mom-jeans and velcro sneakers.
My sister-in-law is the perfect example of a conflicted minivan shopper. With four kids, she needs a minivan. However, because she grew up sitting in the back of a string of Chevrolet Astro vans, she has a special hatred reserved for minivans. It probably doesn’t help that her parents recently traded in an Oldsmobile Silhouette for a Chrysler Town & Country.
Technically, a family of six will fit in your average three-row crossover, but even the biggest CUVs have a cramped back seat and limited cargo compared to the average minivan.
Seeing an opportunity to differentiate itself, Kia decided to put a different twist on the Sedona when it was redesigned for 2015. The latest Sedona gives up some traditional minivan practicality in an attempt to appeal to crossover shoppers on the fence.
For most of the 1960s, the forward-control, mid-engined small van, with the driver sitting atop the front axle and crowded against the door by an engine-containing box known as the “doghouse,” was quite popular in the United States. These things were bouncy, ill-handling, dangerous steel boxes, but they could haul absurd loads with their 1904-technology solid axles and leaf springs all the way around and were easy to maneuver in tight spaces.
Nearly all these vans were used up or crashed decades ago, but xillion-mile survivors still trickle into wrecking yards to this day. Here’s a rare long-wheelbase late-’60s ChevyVan that I spotted in Denver last week. (Read More…)
The Ford Transit was America’s best-selling van in March 2016 and the first-quarter of 2016, full stop.
Not just the best-selling full-size commercial van. Not just the best-selling commercial van overall. The Ford Transit was America’s best-selling van, besting all of its direct rivals as well as each and every minivan.
Much has been made of the all-American Ford Mustang’s one-month stand in Germany. Even if the Mustang’s “Best-Selling Sports Car In Germany” status is only temporarily grasped, it certainly was a noteworthy turn of events. Meanwhile, Ford of Europe’s long-running commercial van, now Americanized, is dominating on our side of the Atlantic. (Read More…)
Living in Colorado, I have become something of a connoisseur of low-sales volume, all/four-wheel-drive versions of otherwise commonplace vehicles. The rarest one so far has got to be this ’87 Ford Tempo AWD, but I also have managed to find some fairly unusual All-Trac-equipped Toyota vehicles.
There’s this ’90 Camry All-Trac, a car that’s a rarity even in this state and just about unheard of anywhere else, and a few examples of the Corolla All-Trac wagon. Now we have this gleaming gold Previa All-Trac. (Read More…)
There are longer minivan jumps you could watch, even some with explosions, but no flying family hauler can match the poise and grace of this 1980s Toyota Tarago.
Somewhere in rural Australia — possibly near a dingo — this sturdy conveyance not only survived its flight seemingly unscathed, it probably stopped off for a case of Fosters after the jump before driving a pack of blonde teens home.
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. (Read More…)
The Ford Econoline went from having a forward-control/mid-engine layout to sporting a stubby hood with the engine moved a bit forward for the 1968 through 1974 model years. Every time I see one of these vans in a wrecking yard, it has been so thoroughly used up that I feel compelled to break out my camera; so far in this series we have seen this ’70 cargo van, this ’70 passenger van, this STD-laden ’71 custom, and this extraordinarily biohazardous-looking ’72 camper (plus there’s this grainy black-and-white Econoline photo I shot in 1991, this full-on Southern California custom found in northern Sweden, and this time-capsule Denver customized ’74).
Today, we have this beat-to-hell-and-beyond California passenger-van-turned-work-truck. (Read More…)
Toyota and PSA announced Tuesday that they would continue to build a van for European markets for light commercial and passenger duty and unveiled their newest Toyota Proace/Peugeot Traveller/Citroen SpaceTourer eggs.
The three vans, which look virtually identical short of their shades and faces, are all produced at PSA’s factory in Valenciennes, France.
While the Toyota version looks like one of those samurai crabs, it’ll likely never set foot in the U.S. and that’s a shame — commercial vans are the new hot thing for automakers, you know?
* A cautionary tale.
great state of Wyoming with hundreds of pounds of men, gear (including a Chairman Mao stencil) and snacks needs no fewer than 14 cupholders.
(Two cupholders were used for drinks, the rest were used for toy cars and various empty wrappers.)
Building a family car isn’t a trick. Rather, it’s a compromise between size and economy, comfort and capability, familiar and futuristic. Anyone can build a battleship, but moving it down the road at 25 miles per gallon requires some finesse.
This isn’t a story about the Littoral combat ship. Instead, it’s a story about three overweight men, eight hours to wonder aloud in a van in Wyoming about Nixon, road noise and absolutely no legal marijuana from Colorado crossing interstate lines. (Sorry to get your hopes up.) (Read More…)
I had the opportunity to visit a Green Bay wrecking yard earlier this month. Most of the inventory was made up of the 10-to-15-year-old GM and Chrysler midsize sedans you’d expect in the Upper Midwest, but I also found this eight-year-old Kia Sedona that had been converted into a Wisconsin Culture Wars Fighting Vehicle (prior to getting wrecked and scrapped before its tenth birthday). (Read More…)
TTAC commentator TrenchFoot writes:
Hey, I’ve got a problem in that I like data. As an engineer and car enthusiast, I want to know more data points than the manufacturer thought I would/should. So I want to add some tech to my ride, and I want it all. The problem is, no one seems to sell the all-in-one solution I’m looking for.
I have a 2007 Chevy Express AWD 1500 (backoff with your comments, I love that van!), but tech in that rig is limited to a power locks. Since I use it to tow a smallish travel trailer, I’m always wondering about the state of the tranny. So my wish list is:
When Maggie Dajani realized that the tire-pressure warning light was on in the van she’d rented to take six teenagers and their parents to a One Direction concert in El Paso, she took the van back to the rental company. A representative of the company, Star Limo, told her not to worry. She then continued to the concert. Shortly afterwards, the van blew two tires and rolled over. Several motorists helped drag the ten passengers out of the van, which was filling with smoke. The children went to the hospital with various injuries, and one of them reportedly received one hundred and fifty stitches as a result.
Now, the New Mexico Public Regulatory Commission has delivered a very, ahem, business-friendly verdict on the whole ordeal. Turns out that Star Limo is the beneficiary of a unique combination of regulatory conditions.
The second-generation Ford Econoline van abandoned the forward-control layout of its mid-engined predecessor and was a big sales success. I still see these vans in junkyards (in fact, I found one in Sweden last year), but I tend to photograph only the most hantavirus-laden campers, attractively weathered window vans, or Chlamydia-enhanced customs. I saw this workhorse cargo Econoline (the technical term, coined by angry neighbors, for a featureless Detroit van with no windows is “Molester Van” or “Free Candy Van”) in a Denver yard recently, and it seemed like a good time to shoot this worn-out piece of van history. (Read More…)