View Full Version : SWB Vans
03-29-2009, 12:48 AM
I'm trying to figure out my next purchase. Were expecting a little one and the element I bought last year to outfit is going to become the Wifes to shuttle her and the kid around.
The element fit the two of us pretty well, the AWD and fold down bed was perfect for my DD needs, hauling work equipment around and surf trips in between.
Since we've got the little one I'm trying to find something a touch bigger with decent fuel economy, AWD and decent reliability. These two ideas struck me:
Late model VW Non Camper synchro with a subaru WRX swap
Find a 1500 Chevy or Ford Van and slowly convert to a SMB "light" status.
I have no need for the kitchen interiors or workspaces. A pop-top would be nice but I must be able to fit 9' longboards up top.
Any suggestions or input on my two ideas?
03-29-2009, 01:05 AM
Consider a late model AWD Chevy/GM Astro/Safari van. Nice mid-size and with a simple lift you can get lots of places:
03-29-2009, 03:32 AM
Or just find a nice late model Ford E series, cargo or not. You can configure it MANY different ways.
03-29-2009, 04:11 AM
I'm not a big fan of the Astro, although TLows is pretty amazing. I've had two friends with terrible experiences.
U Joint: Whats the shortest E Van I can get? I've googled it but can't seem to find a length.
03-29-2009, 04:46 AM
Since 92, there are 2 bodies, same wheelbase (132"). I can measure mine for you, I'm not sure of the length.
There was a shorter body in the mid 70's.....
03-29-2009, 04:56 AM
If you wouldn't mind that would be great. Does anyone know if the Chevy vans are smaller? They look smaller but I haven't seen one in person...
I still think the WRX powered Synchro might be my best bet. Its hard to find something that is fairly nimble in the city, can handle light duty trails / sand and gets good fuel milage.
The boys over on The Samba are claiming in the mid 20's on the hwy with their subaru vans.
03-29-2009, 04:04 PM
20mpg is pretty good. As far as gas mileage is concerned, fully loaded diesel SMB's get 16-18. So a mildly build weight, without a galley may get close to 20. Would be pushing it though. Would be interesting to know.
03-29-2009, 08:31 PM
Including the bumpers, my van is just under 18'. I needed to measure it anyway for an upcoming ferry ride.
03-29-2009, 10:26 PM
Mines like 23 with bumpers LOL (EB)
03-29-2009, 11:22 PM
Mines like 23 with bumpers LOL (EB)
That sounds about right, long!!!!
03-30-2009, 02:04 AM
Thanks for the compliment.
My decision came down to the Astro or the WRX Syncro (no "h" BTW).
If I were T.Leno instead of T.Low I would have one of each and have my very own long term test and evaluation of both and have my mechanic repair and maintain the one whilst I was out in the other.
If I were actually able to test drive a Suby Syncro, I may have gone that route. (Although I went the lifted, pop topped Astro route without ever actually see one at all, so who knows.)
IMHO, you can't go wrong either way. Its about perspective and perogative. Its a simple question of "Where do you want your van to excel, and where are you willing to accept its compromises". (Keep in mind that I said the question was simple, not necessarily the answer!) The full size vans have quite a bit more room inside for camping, especially if there's three of you. The midsize is going to be more agile off road. I do really like the nimbleness of the mid size van. Suprisingly agile off road, and great around town. And coming from a backpacking and kayak camping lifestyle, so far the thru camping in the Astro has been a blast. And the Vanagon is even 16" longer inside, which is about 18 or 19 % more.
But I also have a full size pickup with RV camper trailer for longer base camping type situations.
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