By on July 19, 2019

The Rare Rides series has touched on recreational vehicles twice in the past, when it featured a BMW-powered Vixen, and the custom fiberglass hodgepodge which was the MSV.

Today’s RV is smaller than either of those, but it can also fit into normal parking spaces. It’s the 1991 Provan Tiger GT.

Before this Rare Ride had a bathroom on board, it was a Chevrolet Astro van. The Astro and its twin the GMC Safari were produced for two decades. The vans debuted for the 1985 model year, and remained relatively unchanged until the last one rolled of the line at Baltimore Assembly (during the plant’s closure) in 2005. The Astro was the first minivan from General Motors, and was introduced in response to Chrysler’s wildly successful minivans.

GM used the S-10 truck platform for their vans, in contrast to the front-drive car basis of Chrysler’s offerings. The Astro was initially available in standard wheelbase only, in cargo and passenger versions. Seating totals ranged between two and eight. All-wheel drive became an option in 1990, and coincided with an extended-length version which rode on the same wheelbase. Power was provided by the unfortunate Iron Duke (98 hp), or more powerful 4.3-liter V6 (165hp). A manual transmission was available through 1989; after that, a four-speed automatic was the only option. A visual refresh and some updates in 1995 carried the Astro through to the bitter end. Let’s talk RVs.

Provan produces a line of recreational vehicles under the Tiger name, and continues doing business today. Retrofitting trucks in Columbia, South Carolina, Provan deals only in domestic one-ton trucks. They’ll build your truck into an RV to suit your requirements, so long as it’s American-branded and one-ton.

Today’s Tiger GT has one large room at the back, and features a convertible bed which will sleep as many as the owner cares to stack. Meals can be prepared via the propane-fueled range, and eaten on the fold-away dining table. All Provans (then and now) come equipped with a full bathroom, this one in particular lined with faux wood paneling.

All the extra living quarters add quite a bit of weight to the Astro. Fortunately, this one has the 4.3-liter engine, which the seller estimates will net 20 miles per gallon (no way). Front airbags are also indicated, so perhaps attention to detail isn’t a priority here. One thing’s for sure: It’s very clean. Other promises included a one-owner history, and 15,000 low miles. This van’s for sale on eBay for an easy $22,999. Adventure awaits!

[Images: seller]

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32 Comments on “Rare Rides: An All-wheel Drive Chevrolet Astro RV From 1991...”


  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    I absolutely love it! But then I owned a full sized ‘disco’ van (shaggin’ wagon) in the late 1970’s.

    And to this day I see Astros/Safaris on a daily basis in the GTA, generally in the use of contractors. So they have earned respect as a robust vehicle.

  • avatar
    Lie2me

    What a comfortable nice way to see the country, I like it :)

  • avatar
    FormerFF

    I didn’t realize there was a four cylinder Astro, all the ones I saw had that “three quarters of a small block” V6. A friend of mine had the Iron Duke in a Grand Am, and it truly earned the sobriquet “Grand Ma”.

  • avatar
    quaquaqua

    It’s probably nostalgia, but I love how clean the first-gen Astro looked. And I know we’ll probably never have a truck-based van this “compact” again, but I think the Astro name still has some cachet. Would much rather see GM resurrect this than what they’re doing with the Blazer and Trailblazer names.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    I forgot about that weird fake-digital hockey stick speedometer that GM used in those days.

    And that window A/C unit is terrific, but how is it powered when the van’s not running?

    • 0 avatar

      There will be an accessory battery (ies) or maybe a generator?

    • 0 avatar
      quaquaqua

      Doesn’t pretty much every RV have some kind of window or roof A/C unit meant for camping? It runs on external power or a generator. They’re not on when you’re driving, if that’s what you mean…

    • 0 avatar
      Scoutdude

      That window unit was something added, not a factory piece, the factory units would have been roof mounted.

      This is for when it is parked and plugged in at a camp site, doesn’t work while in motion and no onboard power source. Though that is the case with the roof mount units too, unless you have the onboard generator and are running while driving.

      • 0 avatar

        May have been factory even to this day some small RVs still use window units in cabinet s to save money and weight. Some class B’s in the 90s had them hidden in the upper fiberglass shell in the rear.

  • avatar

    https://twitter.com/keithwanderlust/status/962474733555142656?s=20

    Their current builds are no joke.

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    Love it but that is a crack pipe asking price.

  • avatar
    TimK

    Mildew awaits!

    • 0 avatar
      Lie2me

      I like the thought of having to go to the bathroom to “sit a spell” with your whole family just sitting right there in the van. “Honey, please turn the radio louder and open the windows”

  • avatar
    TR4

    Seems like the Astro’s unibody-with-front-subframe construction would have made it a bit awkward to put an RV body on it.

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    Corey how about a VW Type 3 or Type 4 ‘Rare Ride’? There has to be very few left running in North America.

  • avatar
    Oberkanone

    Broening Highway General Motors Plant

    3,200,000 Astro/Safari left the plant.

  • avatar
    Lie2me

    In LA this would be considered a starter home

    https://la.curbed.com/2019/7/19/20699894/los-angeles-sleeping-in-vehicles-ban-enforcement

  • avatar
    Roader

    “The Astro was the first minivan from General Motors…”

    Ahem…

    https://www.corvair.org/chapters/corvanatics/Greenbrier.php

    • 0 avatar
      ToddAtlasF1

      The Dodge A100 and first generation Ford Econoline were minivans too, no matter how you define them. They were unibody vans based on compact cars and with lengths in around 170 inches. The A100 lasted through 1970, which really wasn’t that long before the ‘revolutionary’ Caravan and Voyager.

      • 0 avatar
        Scoutdude

        The Covair vans were based on a compact car, but the Ford and Dodge were not. Yeah they were unibody like the Falcon and Valiant they borrowed engines from. However the suspension on the vans were straight axles on leafs all around while the cars had IFS. Not even the rear axles were shared as the vans got bigger and beefier units.

        • 0 avatar
          Lie2me

          Considering how the three were meant to compete they were three totally different applications, rear engine compact (Corvair)/compact car (Falcon)/truck based (Dodge)

          I don’t really remember how they did against each other originally, but I would think the Dodge would have been the real workhorse of the three

          • 0 avatar
            Roader

            Dodge came to the game pretty late: 1964, vs. 1961 for Chevy and Ford, and of course VW beat them by a decade. An entertaining “CORVAIR RAMPSIDE Vs FORD ECONOLINE advertising video:

            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q6RNp153JSw

            Check out the unloaded panic stop for the Econoline @2:30. I bet they had a fat driver and passenger in that Econoline.

    • 0 avatar
      Lie2me

      Everyone seems to forget about the Greenbrier, it just proves that you can have the right vehicle, but if it’s not the right time no one will be interested. AMC Eagle and Aztek know what I mean


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