By on May 7, 2013

It's an Astro, but it's also a Lamborghini! Picture courtesy the author.

We don’t call you guys the Best & Brightest for nothing.

When I talked about finding the Astroghini in Kalamazoo a few years ago, it never occurred to me that anyone would remember the van, or the story, for very long. But as it turns out, elephants have nothing on our readers… except, possibly, nose size.

Picture courtesy the author.

I can’t decide if $3400 is a screaming deal or the equivalent of paying $5000 for an early 928 that ran when parked. The Astro part beneath the ‘ghini part should be reasonably reliable, but the rest of it is likely to be a nightmare. Reality shows rarely bust their asses to make sure their one-episode star-cars are built to the late Henry Royce’s standards. I suppose the best thing you could say about it would be that Astroghini ownership would be a relatively cheap way to get attention, but the same can be said for streaking at a baseball game.

One thing remains to be said: Aaron Cowles, the guitar builder briefly profiled in the original story, is no longer well enough to work. In addition to the Heritage Spruce Eagle discussed in the article, I also had Mr. Cowles rebuild a carved-maple Heritage H-575 and replace the original mahogany neck with a three-piece flame-maple affair.

575. Picture courtesy the author.

Oh boy, look at those solar lights. I put those in for a party. I guess I wasn’t sober before the party, either. Anyway… we’re all praying for Aaron’s recovery, but no matter what happens, the peerless quality of his work will be apparent long after he, and I, are long gone. That’s the difference between a guitar rebuilt for a lifetime of use by a master of his craft and an Astro van rebodied in a hurry for a television show by a bunch of people who couldn’t care less. The difference between craft and junk.

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10 Comments on “The Astroghini Can Be Yours! For The Low, Low Price Of…...”

  • avatar

    The front looks like it will fall off in a light breeze, never mind on the road… It looks like the designer / builder made tents for a living. I would want to unzip the door!

  • avatar
    Mr Imperial

    Thank you, Jack, for your original story and speaking so kindly of my hometown. I knew a little about Gibson and Kalamazoo, but no where near what you wrote!

    I had an old Stratocaster (yes, not Gibson) repaired by a guy whose shop was/is near the intersection of 9th and Stadium Drive. Don’t know if he’s still there anymore….I believe he was an ex employee too.

    And thanks to Shamwow for resurrecting this story!

  • avatar

    I would totally buy this pig. My idea would be to park it outside the Ministry of Good Taste and offer $20 chances to wail on it with a plethora of different tools of destruction while filming it for YouTube.

    • 0 avatar

      Find someone you don’t like who also happens to have their house for sale. Park this van across the street every time the realtor shows up with prospective buyers…

  • avatar

    I have a Heritage 535 in Sunsetburst. Love it. I normally play through a ’65 Super Reverb reissue, but I’m open to trying out a new amp if it will be a better compliment to the 535’s tone potential…what do you run your Heritages through, JB?

  • avatar

    Now someone needs to buy it!

    This could be a legendary lemons build. And everyone knows vans are the ticket to winning lemons

  • avatar
    DC Bruce

    This looks like a Pontiac Aztek going backwards.

    Scary sight!

  • avatar

    Needs shag carpet, a round window, and a futuristic mural

  • avatar
    Domestic Hearse

    Throw in the H575 and you have yourself a deal.

    You have the hard case, right?

  • avatar

    Needs rims. 22, 26 or 30? Hard to tell from just the one picture.

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