Long way from home - 2004 Chevrolet Express AWD

Jelmer

New member
Hi Everyone, I'm new to this forum

My name is Jelmer and I'm from the Netherlands. I have travelled Europe the past holidays my Jeep XJ, sometimes with an Eezi-Awn on top of it. But I've sold the Roof top tent because this was the first year we used my work van as a sort of make-shift camper.
It's way more comfortable travelling with this than the Cherokee... allthough the Jeep is way more capable and got me to places the Express would never reach. You can't have it all I suppose. However the thread is called 'Long way from home' because this USA van Is something like an unicorn here in Europe. that can be frustrating sometimes when you are in need of parts... There are some of them in my country, but none in the rest of Europe.

A little bit about the vehicle: After owning a 2006 VW T5 LWB cargo van for 8 years I bought the Chevy in 2018 like this:
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This was definetly not what I was going for. But it was a good base for my intentions, let me explain: The tax regulations here can be rather complex if you want it registered on a firm (lots of tax benifits). Short story, if you don't want complex it's just going to cost you a lot. That's why there's a wall between the passenger area and cargo space. You might also notice the 160 liter LPG tank, it runs on propane. This is because a gallon regular gas will run you more than $8,- in europe. LPG is less than half of that.
So I was looking for a five seat passenger with a none windowed cargo space. It also just had to be an AWD, and close to 15 years of age (avoiding some 'firm car - private usage' taxes again, bla bla bla).

This is where we at 3 years later:

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Modifications so far:

-Skoda Steel Grey paintjob, welded in new rockers too
-Morimoto Projector retrofit
-Method NV305 18x9 wheels
-Sound system upgrade
-Silent coat (sort of dynamat) everywhere
-Webasto panoramic roof
-Victory Offroad roof rack with custom mounted 50" Strands Siberia lightbar

Plans:

-Quigley bumpers
-Lift kit
-Engine/transmission overhaul. 280k miles at the moment....
-Numerous 'camper' modifications

More about it later! Hope you guys like it so far
 

Jelmer

New member
When not used for work, there are two drawers in the back supporting a super comfy mattress. There's a simple stove in one of the drawers, Next to it there are two 220v outlets up to 1000watt with a second optima battery connected to it. Also two USB power outlets with voltmeter so I can check how much is left in the second battery. The cabin is still a work in progress....

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Johnboyy

Member
(y) from Ireland, I think you guys are the only ones with worse vehicle taxes than us, but we don't get American stuff cos we drive on the wrong side. Van looks great, love the Skoda primer colour
 

remco

Observer
Hi from Europe! Im in Slovakia. Really thinking about that Škoda color too! Thanks for put here the photos:)
What about your morimoto LEDs? I did something simillar but another type of LED projectors.
We have 160L propane tank too... Lot of same things I see :) :)

Maybe we meet some day somewhere on European roads...


 

Overdrive

Adventurer
Nice van! Thanks for sharing. Do you find the left side cargo doors a benefit? Or would you rather have the wall space? I can't decide how I'd want mine configured if I was to buy an AWD.

Nice, I wish we could buy one with cargo doors on both sides.
You can, but it would be a used one. They quit making them when the 1500's went away after the 2015 model year.
 

billiebob

Well-known member
Nice van! Thanks for sharing. Do you find the left side cargo doors a benefit? Or would you rather have the wall space? I can't decide how I'd want mine configured if I was to buy an AWD.

You can, but it would be a used one. They quit making them when the 1500's went away after the 2015 model year.
I have not seen a North American full size van with left side cargo doors since the 1960s.... where were they sold ??
 

Overdrive

Adventurer
Sold everywhere in the USA. They are rare, especially in cargo vans. I've only been looking at AWD Chevy & GMC which were available 2003-2015, so I don't know if they were available in other trims. Interestingly, most of the conversion AWD Chevys from that era, such as the one the OP has, have the left side cargo doors.


(I don't know why it says page unavailable. Works for me.)

 

86scotty

Explorer
I have not seen a North American full size van with left side cargo doors since the 1960s.... where were they sold ??
If you mean left side barn doors (or right for that matter) with no windows, I've never seen one either in North America. There are plenty of Chevy cargo and passenger vans around with left hand doors though, every one I've seen has windows, but then again every Chevy van with side barn doors I've ever seen has windows. I had one a few years ago.
 

pgchustla

New member
Hello from Maryland, USA. From one 2004 Express AWD owner to another, that paint job is incredible!


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 

Jelmer

New member
Thanks for the comments! I feel welcome already :)

@RVflyfish, Thanks! It's a webasto hollandia 524. It came as an factory option in first generation Renault Twingo's... So that's where my came out of, lol. When I'm done with the headliner I'm going to post some pictures of it.

@remco, Great van you have! Liked the video! The Morimoto's 8.0's are great, so much light coming from these. Actually they are still old fashioned HID's.

@Overdrive, I think the extra barn doors make it more multipurpose. Normally there's a three person rear seat which can be entered from both sides. I'm going to build an interchangeable full height cabinet at where the drivers side rear seat should be during travelling. This will be functional from the outside aswell as inside the van.

I just ordered a rebuild 6.0 LQ4 engine because the old LM7 with 280k miles is consuming much oil. But more severe is the cracked cylinder head my mechanic just discovered and I probably been driving around with for quite a while now.
Also ordered a HD 4L60E transmission because of the metal residue in the oil being a sign the current transmission is worn. And the transfer case has a lot of free play on the outgoing axle's 😞

That's a whole new driveline I guess 😬
 

Overdrive

Adventurer
I like the interior/exterior cabinet idea. A kitchen in that manner sounds like a great idea.

You'll feel like you have a whole new van with your "new" engine and trans. That 6.0 is a great, durable motor. I'm getting 17.5 to 18.5 mpg at 75 mph in mine. Best tank of 22 mpg at 65 mph.:)
 
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