Creep Van To Street Van: Project Heavy Metal – A Mini-Series: Part 1

you guessed it from the title, Street Muscle has a new project, and it’s a big ol’ Chevy van – a 1993 G20, to be exact.

She might not look like much, here. Just wait…

But, before we get to that, I should give some back story on how we came to own this beauty of a creeper van.

Our story begins like any good one should– with a motorcycle. That’s right, hot rod hooligans and motorcycle hellions are often one and the same – adrenaline obsessed zealots with a need for speed and a reckless abandon that leads them to drive fast cars and even faster motorcycles.

So, when our Editor, author, and resident rabble-rouser, yours truly, came upon a derelict Harley Davidson Sportster hiding in a neighbor’s garage, I had to ask about it. Seeing clapped out old bikes is nothing new, but this Sportster happened to be wearing a very cool peanut tank, scribed with “Harley Davidson” on either side in the font style of one of my favorite heavy metal albums – Black Sabbath’s Master Of Reality.

The day I brought the sporty home, it didn’t look like much either.

As luck would have it, the neighbor was tired of storing it for a friend, it leaking oil, and genuinely agitating his wife, so I made an offer on the bike. The owner sold it to me in non-running, unregistered condition for the paltry sum of 400 dollars.

I rolled the sad little Harley a few doors down to my own garage and got to work. After emptying the tank, rebuilding the carburetor, and hooking up a new battery, the Harley fired right up.

By the time I was through with the little Sportster, it was one badass flat tracker.

Unfortunately, the Sportster was missing anything that would make it street legal, so how it would be built was up in the air. Nevertheless, over the course of the next few months, I transformed the busted old Harley into a flat track race bike.

But, such is the life of an editor that I knew I’d never have the time to dedicate to a real race program. And, with the inability to make it street legal, I put it on the ol’ interweb looking for a trade.

Eventually, a young man from my hometown of Bakersfield, California reached out to me and said he wanted to trade for a 1985 Chevy K5 Blazer. I’m a sucker for most bowties, especially of the squarebody variety, so I made tracks for the wide-open spaces of Kern County.

Ol’ Blue, as she was affectionately called, was a fun ride, but not exactly my cup of tea.

We struck a deal and made a straight-up trade for the Blazer. Reader, let me tell you, I loved that K5! Within the first hour of owning it, I was already jamming the shifter from 4-HI to 4-LO and back. The short wheelbase on Blazers cannot be discounted, and that V8 power was awesome! Unfortunately, the Blazer got horrible gas mileage and served no other purpose than to occasionally go off-road.

With rusted out floors, a tired 305ci engine, and no smog equipment to speak of, I made the choice to let it go, rather than sink a ton of money into a project I wasn’t all-in on.

So, once again, I reached out to my fellow auto enthusiasts in search of the next project. I was quickly contacted by a young man in Ventura, California who was in possession of a diamond-in-the-rough if I’d ever seen one. That’s right, I’m talking about the 1993 Chevrolet G20 you see before you.

Suffice to say, we made the trade.

She wasn’t exactly a “looker” when we got her, but the G20 had good bones. A 350ci fuel-injected V8, air conditioning, cruise control, and a furnished interior were all pluses…

Now, before you go lighting up the comment section with inflammatory remarks about our beloved van, ask yourselves this, “have you ever been vannin’?”

Seriously, I’ve been a long time fan of all things ’70s. From the cars and music to long sideburns and yes, even vans – I dig it all.

I’ll admit, I got a lot of grief from my editorial cohorts, but they just didn’t understand. They didn’t have the same vision I did. A shag carpet lined castle. A properly raked and flaked mobile hotel. A vessel for surfboards, sandy feet, and an ice-chest full of cold refreshments. A flamed-out, fueled-up, freedom factory!

But how could we ever take a van birthed from the same decade that gave us parachute pants and turn it into something Mr.T could be proud of?

Well, we’re glad you asked! In the following parts of this mini-series, we’ll walk you through the process it took to breathe some bell-bottomed life into this ’90s relic. Luckily for us, GM design engineers that were assigned to the G-series van line were either very lazy or simply knew a good thing when they saw it.

Check back with us and see how the crusty camper van pictured above has been transformed into the party wagon you see here.

Stay tuned. In the next episode, we’ll show you how we gave our big beauty a much-needed and back-dated face lift.

About the author

Vinny Costa

Fast cars, motorcycles, and loud music are what get Vinny’s blood pumping. Catch him behind the wheel of his ’68 Firebird. Chances are, Black Sabbath will be playing in the background.
Read My Articles

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