Buy/Drive/Burn: Full-size Van Time in 1990

Corey Lewis
by Corey Lewis
buy drive burn full size van time in 1990

The year is 1990, and you live in Utah or someplace similar and find yourself with plentiful offspring. The only solution here is a full-size van that seats 15. Which extra-long BOF box goes home with the Buy?

Dodge Ram Wagon

The Ram Van remained in its second-generation format between 1979 and 1993. Upper-trim family Wagons wore quad headlamps, while poverty-spec cargo Vans had single round ones. Though new for ’79, the Van was a reskin of the first-generation version that debuted in 1971. The dash from 1978 carried all the way through to 1993. At that point, a third generation soldiered on until 2003 with the same body shell and most of the same equipment. In 1990, our selection is the largest displacement 5.9-liter (360) V8. A total of 155 horsepower travels to the rear via a four-speed automatic. Overall length: 222.9 inches.

Ford Club Wagon

More commonly known as Econoline, Ford’s American people hauler entered its third generation in 1975 and continued with small changes through 1991. For the first time, Econoline was body-on-frame instead of unibody. This lead to popularity as a cutaway chassis, and the Econoline was transformed into various buses, trucks, and ambulances across the country. In 1992 the fourth generation Econoline bowed, and is still being produced as a cutaway chassis today. In luxurious Club Wagon XLT trim, the 226.8-inch Super Van has the largest Ford gasoline V8: It’s the 5.8-liter (351) Windsor. Some 250 horsepower was sent through the van’s four-speed automatic, and no manuals were available.

Chevrolet G

The Chevrolet Van (now G) entered a third generation in 1971, and remained largely unchanged through model year 1995. GM chased Ford’s Econoline and moved away from the cab forward design of the second generation Van. 1996 saw the introduction of new Express vans that remain in production to this day. General Motors was late to the 15-passenger game, as 1990 was the introductory year for the extended wheelbase 223.2-inch G van. In top-trim, extended-length Beauville guise, the 5.7-liter (350) V8 made 195 horsepower and carried a standard four-speed automatic.

You need many rows of seats for many children, so which van goes home to the compound?

Images: Dodge, seller, Wikipedia]

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  • HotPotato HotPotato on Aug 28, 2019

    Drive the Dodge. It would ride and handle the best of the three. Styling wise, I'm a sucker for the curved rear windows on the extendo version, I like the large easily visible taillights, and it's the only one with a snoot that could be called handsome. Also: swap in a junkyard 440. That thing was a BEAST. Buy the Chevy, pimp it out, and sell it to whoever's looking for a van conversion. They'll appreciate the okay MPG and okay ride. Burn the Ford. I have nothing against a body-on-frame van that wanders like a drunken hobo, with an engine that delivers neither power nor fuel economy, but something's gotta give. I do have a bias. My mom bought a van for her business when I was a kid, but it wasn't a white strangers-with-candy panel van, it was a used Dodge conversion van that apparently had been built for a Nevada lady of the evening. The rear sofa folded down into a remarkably comfortable bed. The front captains were suitably 70s-tastic. And the 440 was equipped with a 4-barrel and an exhaust the size of a water main. I'd load that thing to its vinyl padded ceiling with boxes, slide the dolly under the sofabed, and off we'd go. Good memories.

  • Travis Travis on Sep 24, 2019

    I might a month late and a hundred short, but I like and respect em all! Kinda hurts a little to see examples of these generations disappearing from the roads. Personally, I'm non-denominational when it comes to American makes. These vans, every single one had their strong points as well as their quirks. There is no perfect beast! Properly taken care of ANY one is good. Mopar: I have a soft spot for the earlier "Tradesmen" or Plymouth version with shark tooth grille. I'll take mine with a 318 or 360 4v. GM : I have a soft spot for the '83-'84 they had a nice looking front end that was unique to only those 2 years. (Quad headlight version) I'll take mine with the LE9 5.0 V8. Ford : Like a friendly old neighbor that moved or passed away... I kinda miss seeing these econolines roaming the streets. They used to be EVERYWHERE! I've never heard of a bad one. The front ends reminded you that..Yes!! You are in fact driving a utility van. Every one I've ever encountered and drove did so faithfully even if it was on its last leg. Coolest one in my experiences was a big, yellow 1 ton 4x4 "Quadravan" of my aunt and uncles. We called it the "Yellowbird". We all went on many a road trip in it. It was a '79 I believe. First year for square headlights. Had a 460. Good Times. Burn: None of em!!

  • Drnoose Probably just cutting conservative talk radio off at the knees. They can’t beat it, so kill it one way of the other.
  • Teddyc73 Looking forward to this. Hopefully it doesn't succomb to the leftist agenda and only come as an EV. If there is a gasoline version and a decent sized bed I'll consider this to replace my Ram 1500 when the day comes. Please let it be available in colors other than the same boring ones Ram has offered for years.
  • Xidex i haven't even turned the dial to AM since the 90's I think at that time it was only because there is one station i liked was on the AM dial (it is no longer around) Someone had to point to the station otherwise i wouldn't have even scanned the AM dial. I still think the AM dial should be left on radios though, If no one listened to it then there wouldn't be any stations would there.
  • Kwik_Shift I have five AM stations preset, each different from one another in terms of content. Some politics, some day to day, some do it yourselfing or help. Focus is more on local news and events. FM is just about pushing crap music and djs pushing the MSM message for their corporate overlords. FM is about making radio sound exactly the same all over North America. I like ONE FM station that plays different varieties of country music and has an entertaining dj. Overall, to each their own.
  • Kat Laneaux What's the benefits of this as opposed to the Ford or Nissan. Will the mileage be better than the 19 city, 24 hwy? Will it cost less than the average of $60,000? Will it be a hybrid?