August 3, 2009
My 1983 Chevrolet Eldorado Conversion Van
By Jim Brennan
While a large number of cars are showcased within the CarDomain community, along with a few choice pickup trucks, the full size van seems to be ignored. I just happen to own one of these ignored behemoths, so I thought it was time to show you the Danger Van, otherwise known as my 1983 Chevy Eldorado Camper.
Continue reading after the jump!
I bought this truck in May of 1997 for all of $5,250, from a Camper Dealer that took it on consignment. It seems that the previous owner was actually afraid of driving it, and no wonder. When I took it for a test drive, the engine seemed to die when trying to accelerate for a standing start, which was fixable. But the most dramatic problem with the truck was the braking system, as it pulled to the right every time you applied the brakes. Oh, and it needed an exhaust system.
Taking these things into account, I realized that this was a very unique vehicle, perfect for towing my boat, or a race car. It had a little over 73,000 miles on it, and the 350 cid Chevy Engine, and Turbohydramatic 400 were almost bullet proof. If that wasn’t unique enough, the original owner installed an Air Ride suspension, by taking out the leaf springs, and installing an air compressor, with twin airbags so that the truck would ride smoother. In my mind, it doesn’t help with the ride, only makes maintenance more complicated. Anyway, I bought the camper, and had all the little problems taken care of one by one. A New 4BBL Carburetor took care of the hesitation, a complete brake job with New Front Pads and Rotors, and New Rear Brake Shoes, and Drums, along with a complete bleed of the system took care of the darting, and a complete new exhaust system from Midas was installed.
The inside of the unit is exactly the same as I bought it, sort of a retro mod vibe to it. Yes, those are velvet Captains Chairs, and the upholstery for the Dinette, and sofa is a multicolor velour. That sofa flips it’s rear section, and coupled with the folding dinette, creates a King Sized bed for two. The truck also came with a three way refrigerator (110V, 12V, and Gas) 2 Burner Stove, Sink, roof mounted A/C, and a Bathroom/Shower Combo. One of the things that really caught my eye when considering it was the integrated trailer hitch with the rear step. I could open the rear door, and back right up to the trailer without any help whatsoever. Great for backing the boat into a boat launch as well.
It is now getting on in age, as this is a 1983 Model, with only about 88,000 miles on it. The one thing that is happening is the rust issues. Since the pod from the cab back is largely fiberglass, it’s the cab that is rusting, with the passenger-side “A” pillar that is almost disintegrated. This is basically a Chevy Van, so I was thinking of removing the windshield, and replacing the entire “A” pillar with one found at a junk yard. What do you guys think? There is also rust issues on the upper part of the windshield, and the doors are starting to show rust. Oh, and there seems to be a leak in the main cabin as it’s musty after it rains.
However, for the past 12 years, I have done practically nothing special to keep this on the road, besides doing oil changes, and routine maintenance like belts, hoses, coolant flushes and tires. It’s able to perform all it’s tasks well, and I was thinking about entering it in the Babe Rally next year. So, I’m asking the CarDomain Community, what should I do to save this unique, and rare beast? Should I take care of the rust issues, and keep it somewhat stock, or should I go whole hog, and after fixing the issues, do a custom paint job, upgrade the engine, and make it a radical beast? I look forward to hearing all of your ideas.
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