Chevrolet Van

chevrolet-van-1964

Do you think about how every vehicle is, in some way, rotting? Slowly morphing back into its base elements? Upkeep and restoration will prolong a vehicle's life, of course, but the inevitable is simply that.

This process is accelerated by accidents, corrosion, and neglect, of course, and some vehicles have lived a life far tougher than others. Work vans, like the previously-profiled Alfa Romeo Romeo, are some of the first to go and most difficult to preserve.

They're not really produced for the general public; they're designed to be used up and tossed away, like a big, highway-capable takeout container. Survivors today are in a strange place, too: they're rare but not really collectable in the same way, say, a vintage Porsche or muscle car is.

When the 1964 Chevrolet Van ambled onto the scene, it replaced the Corvair Greenbriar as the company's smallest work van, offering a forward control layout similar to its contemporaries, the Ford Econoline and Dodge A100.

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Using a modified Chevrolet II chassis, it featured engines from its compact cousin: a four-cylinder or the choice of two 6-cylinders. If you're wondering about power…move along.

The underpinnings were simple, robust, and carried a half ton rating—a few building supplies or just enough tools and supplies to suit most independent contractors. From 1965, the Van was offered in Sportvan Deluxe trim, totalling at an MSRP of $2,700 USD.—about the price of the average car that year. Today, that's (very) roughly $20,000 USD.

Even though it's a pretty small vehicle by modern standards, there was a lot of room because, well, safety features and crumple zones hadn't quite made it to the van market. At least you'd be comfortable. For long road trips, there was at least a doghouse—engine cover—between the seats, handy for storing drinks, maps, and snacks. (Don't forget: this is before every single vehicle sold offered cupholders.)

chevrolet-van

The Van's simple exterior was less flashy as those from Ford and Dodge, not to mention its predecessor, the Corvair Greenbriar. Up front, it resembles my favourite kei truck, the Mazda Porter.

But back to the introduction. There aren't many left. Survivors are few and far between, especially original examples with no custom van-style modifications—yes, there's one on our fine planet with the album cover for Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon airbrushed on the side.

In other words, if you ever see an unmodified, running one in decent condition, pat the owner on the back. Or give a thumbs-up. But don't tell him he's not driving a truly rare van because, well, that's a story for another day.

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