Back in November of 2016, I found myself down in southern California on the hunt for just the right van to call my own. The Ford Transit or Mercedes Sprinter were out of my price range by a long shot, though ergonomically one of those would have been the best choice (they have more headroom so you can stand up inside). Ford Econolines tended to be quite cheap for a 2000-2006 model, but people I had talked to warned me about how mechanically annoying the Fords were (read: they break down a lot). So no Ford for me. Everyone I talked to and the research I did said the Chevy Express was a reliable cargo van, and they were everywhere on Craigslist.
I settled on this 2001 V6 Chevy Express 1500 with 175,000 miles that I haggled down to $3000, which is a pretty great price given my research. All the early 2000’s Expresses I had looked at had high mileage. Remember, these are work vans that tend to get driven heavily. Lucky for me this also means they are built to last. So far she’s been pretty reliable, though I did have to get the starter replaced and I had a power steering fluid leak that I didn’t know about until the power steering pump failed. I drove this van around for a few months with no power steering, which I’ll tell you right now is insanely annoying when looking for parking in a city.
I lived out of my van just as it was for the first 6 months or so. The shelf turned out to be very useful during this period. The bed I created in the back was exceedingly comfortable and would often spend days laying in bed mooching WiFi in the parking lot of a cafe binging the latest Netflix series. Ah the joys of funemployment.
But the time has come to actually start the conversion to really make this van be everything it can be. In April, I settled down with my partner, Ace, in Portland, Oregon in a 3 month sublet. I spent all of April doing research and gathering inspiration. Now that the weather is finally starting to improve, it’s time to get going. The first step is taking out all my stuff and stripping the van back down to the state when I got it in.