Hammer Time: Conversion Vans
Who wants one these days? For the last ten years the entire conversion van industry has been pretty much niched out of existence. First minivans started becoming the mode of choice for those wanting a big screen and a wide array of entertainment options on the road. Then the mastodon SUV’s came to fore. Offering to tow your camper, pop-up, motorbikes, and pretty much anything else that you seemingly needed to take with you. That was only the beginning
Technology became smaller and cheaper. With each GPS, DVD, MP3, and Smartphone, even the smallest cars can now be outfitted with virtually all the entertainment you would ever want at your fingertips. You don’t need a van to schlepp your TV, game system, radio, deluxe speakers, and fridge. You don’t even need a minivan if you’re smart about it. With $4 gas a daily reality in the US now, and $7 becoming the norm in Europe, it’s easy to predict that conversion vans will pretty much bite the bullet. And you would be right… perhaps…
Google ‘conversion vans’ and you still get the choice of thousands of used GM and Ford full-sized van bodies that have been the standard for decades. Throw in some nice cushy seats. Some overhead lighting. A big screen TV and game system. Shelving and speakers… and a nice carpet with a fold out bed in the back. There. Done.
Except the Lay-Z-Boy approach towards luxury is rapidly going the way of Dodge Aspens and Lincoln Navigators To be brutally blunt about it, some mature folks may still want the tried and true. But they’re going to just buy an RV, SUV or even a minivan these days. Heck maybe even a four-door pickup with a trailer attached to it. All of these things are as common as corn flakes on used car lots and repo sales. Even the most blinged out of offerings can be bought for quarters on the dollar compared to a new conversion van.
So why pop $50k+ on a new one?
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Well, it’s pretty obvious that a lot of you posters haven’t seen, driven or asked conversion van owners about their vans in quite some time. First, they’re the same length of a suburban with the same engine block and transmission with a tom more interior room. They have WAY WAY more features than an Escalade, Navigator or Denali and cost less…YET…..holds its resale better than any of the 3. Ask a current van owner about their van and they will tell you they “LOVE IT” Very frankly, it’s the best kept secret in the car business. It holds a large family in comfort and they are just cool cars.
This is obviously a very opinionated subject. Yes they are stereotyped and outdated. I always thought they were a neat idea and now that my family has grown such that we need up to 7 people legally seated the idea is very appealing to me. They are solid, roomy and versatile and for $4-5k you can find a model a few years old in reasonably good condition. The motors in these are time tested solid runners since they've been around so long. The only other way to have captain's chairs and seat more than 5 adults comfortably is a charter bus as far as I know. It sounds to me like most of the negative responses are from people who experienced or 'heard about' a unit that was not properly maintained in which any motor vehicle will suffer badly from. So until I can afford a $55,000 tahoe which gets about the same gas mileage with less space and a higher insurance rate this is the most practical option...plus I can sleep in there and watch TV when the wife is on the fritz, lol.