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1998 Chevrolet Express Conversion Van Is Our BaT Auction Pick


1998 Chevrolet Express Conversion Van Is Our BaT Auction Pick

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1998 Chevrolet Express Conversion Van Is Our BaT Auction Pick

  • This conversion van is pure 1990s vibe, with some nice modern upgrades like a flat screen smart TV.
  • Is there an abstract vinyl graphic on the side? You betcha!
  • Slide into this pre-internet slice of life at Bring a Trailer, where the unreserved auction runs until Monday, January 16.

The assembled cargo van cohort may be all about #VanLife these days, but before glorified homelessness appeared in the pan, there was the humble conversion van. Founded under the same premise—converting cargo vans into something more livable—these third-party modified vehicles became the basis for many a Millennial’s childhood road trips. Longing for a time when Saturday morning cartoons were good and Comedy Central played real stand-up? Here’s your chance to come back.

This van started life as a stock 1998 Chevrolet Express cargo van, selling for $24,880 ($45,442 in 2023 dollars). But it made the leap from work vehicle to family-friendly machine courtesy of the Rocky Ridge conversion kit, which included a higher roof, the neater staples that came to define late-20th-century conversion van shape.

red chevrolet express van interior

Bring a Trailer

Open the passenger-side clamshell door—Chevrolet didn’t start selling Express vans with driver-side doors until the 2003 model year—and you can hear the sound of Mark Mothersbaugh. Rugrats theme through the screen. The 1990s never went away here. Each super-soft couch is wrapped in the most beige leather. The rug is about the color of ground beef past its sell-by date. Stained wood throughout, um, vibrant.

Somehow, there are still less cup holders in this van than in the Subaru Ascent.

red chevrolet express convertible van, shown from behind

Bring a Trailer|Car and Driver

There are also some interesting 21st century additions. Any tired old stock CRTs have been swapped out for Roku-enabled smart TVs. Sticking out from the dashboard is an upgraded Alpine head unit with touch screen capabilities, while a modern backup camera should make things easier to position. That’s good, because you’ll have a hard time finding period-correct abstract vinyl graphics if you start scuffing the panels.

Perhaps the single greatest AV upgrade in this Express lies behind the third row, where the wooden enclosure doesn’t house one, but two Sony Xplod subwoofer. If you haven’t heard Brandy and Monica’s song “The Boy Is Mine” over and over, you’re not alive.

the interior of a chevrolet express conversion van, showing off a pair of aftermarket subwoofers

Car and Driver

Underneath all this wood, metal and leather is a well-maintained powertrain. The 5.7-liter Vortec V-8 in front has only 24,000 miles on it. While it’s unclear how well the previous owner kept up with the service schedule, the current owner took the van in for some work before offering it for sale, spending about $3100 on a handful of parts, including a good Freon recharge. Mother Nature’s favorite.

Even for something as out-of-left-field as a Chevrolet Express convertible van, a low-mileage example like this wouldn’t be there for a song. As of this writing, there are six days left in the auction, and it has already reached $10,250, which is very expensive for what it is. But perhaps no price is too high to pretend Y2K is still something to worry about.

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