; Conversion vans

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Author Topic: Conversion vans  (Read 16888 times)

Offline David

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Conversion vans
« on: March 30, 2010, 03:01:44 PM »
A Conversion van Is a full-size cargo van that is sent to third-party companies to be outfitted with various luxuries for road trips and camping.

History
Conversion vans came into style during the 1970s and 1980s. Early conversions were simply vans with seats put in them, often with murals painted along the sides. Although many were used by rock bands and the conversion van developed something of a "bad boy" image, most were used for basic everyday transport.

After the mid 80's, luxurious interiors featuring thickly padded seats, wood trim and luxury lighting began to appear in conversion vans as families and retirees started using them for road trips and camping. At the same time, both the federal government and vehicle manufacturers began efforts to exert some degree of control on the van conversion industry, demanding that certain safety guidelines be adhered to. The price of conversion vans also started to increase as things such as sleeping accommodations, cooking utilities, televisions and other items were added to the conversion vans. The higher pricing and smaller market segment ment a resulting decrease in sales. At the same time, the price of gas was also increasing, leading still more people away from these large cargo vans, whose V-8 engines and poor aerodynamics resulted in poor gas mileage. Finally, the growing demand for minivans and SUVs siphoned off even more potential customers. Despite these setbacks though, as the economy boomed in the 1990s, conversion vans sales began to improve, with almost 200,000 units sold in 1994 alone. As of 2007, about 20,000 conversion vans are being sold each year, with most being sold for family transport.

Conversion types
There are several different types of conversions aside of the usual passenger-van-like conversion:

1. Campervan-This van has more features that enable camping, such as a toilet, fridge, microwave, sink, side sofa, popup canvas top that allows standing up, and sometimes a stove.

2. Disability Vans are built to be accessed in the cargo area by wheelchair. These vans are stripped in the back (providing seating for only 2), and have a ramp installed below the door for easy entry/exit.

3. Office Vans Also known as "LandJets", are built like a small office in the back, with a desk and chair bolted to the floor, an electrical outlet in the office area (for computer, etc.), and usually 1 or 2 seats in the back for passengers. These are most popular for traveling salesmen and TV camera crews.

4. Motorhomes "Class B" campervans are built on a full size cargo van that is lengthened a couple of feet. Lengths range from 1720 feet. "Class C" mini motorhomes have the back completely taken out of the van (known as a cutaway), and have it replaced with a larger back that offers more space than Class B's. Lengths range from 1830 feet.

Vans used in conversions

Current
Conversion vans are originally bare, windowless full-size 1/2 ton or 3/4 ton cargo vans such as the Chevrolet Express/GMC Savana, the Dodge Sprinter, and the Ford E-Series. The Conversion Van Marketing Association (CVMA) is a partnership between General Motors and 7 conversion van manufacturers. Exclusive partnership means members of the CVMA are the only manufacturers authorized by GM to build Chevrolet or GMC conversion vans. Companies like Explorer Vans and Galaxy Vans are examples. There are currently only a few manufacturers authorized to build Sprinter Conversion Vans in the US. One of these companies is Midwest Automotive Designs, Corp. in Elkhart, Indiana.

Former
Vans used for conversions in the past that are no longer in production are the Chevrolet Van/GMC Vandura (19701996), the Chevrolet Astro/GMC Safari (19852005), the Dodge Ram Van (19812003), and the Volkswagen Eurovan (19922004).


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Conversion vans
« on: March 30, 2010, 03:01:44 PM »



Offline Saturn Cyniclon

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Re: Conversion vans
« Reply #1 on: May 29, 2010, 08:57:51 PM »
Last I recall, the Eurovan was never used as a conversion van shell, unless you count the Winnebago "Camper" that Volkswagen offered.

Offline gusc

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Re: Conversion vans
« Reply #2 on: August 08, 2010, 03:44:43 PM »
My 1988 Dodge Ram Minivan Aztec Conversion was originally a Ram Minivan rear windowless delivery van on the long wheelbase chassis.

I bought it used from the original owner. It has four identical Capt'n chairs and a bench rear seat which folds into a small bed. The guy had it done for his semi-invalid wife and it is very well done.

I love it so much I just had the V6 3 Liter Mitsubishi engine and trans overhauled at 194K, mostly because the front main seal blew and oil was blowing out at the rate of a quart/30 miles! Some valve guides had also slipped down and it was making minor smoke. The cylinders didn't need boring, just honing!!

Even though I just spent about $4K on it, far more than it is worth, I can't seem to part with it.

I don't know if Aztec is still in business, but I doubt it.

Offline David

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Re: Conversion vans
« Reply #3 on: August 08, 2010, 11:20:39 PM »
I know how you feel, I have a 1990 Chevy G20 Mark III conversion that is a pleasure to own and drive. Solid is a great way to describe it  :)
 
 
 
 

 

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