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Old 11-24-2011, 06:22 AM   #1
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Is Chevy Express 1500 adequate?

I'm new to this forum and I'm delighted to find you folks! I had a 1987 VW Westy that I adored but had to sell it when the Joplin tornado destroyed my daily driver and I had to get a replacement car. I'm mourning my loss but gearing up to buy a SMB. I am leaning toward a Chevy Express 1500 because of the AWD option, but after reading some posts on this forum, I'm concerned that the engine doesn't have enough power to handle the job after the conversion. I want the basic regular body "50" plan (that most resembles my old Westy), and I won't be carrying much weight other than the van itself. I do some mountain driving but I don't really need 4-wheel drive capabilities. From what I can tell, the Chevy Express 1500 is the only "convertable" van that offers AWD. I've sent a couple of emails to SMB asking about whether the 1500 Express is a suitable option for me but can't seem to get a response from them. GTRV recommended the 1500 Express, but I don't know how their conversion weight compares with SMB. Your group thoughts would be very much appreciated! Thanks!

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Old 11-24-2011, 10:42 AM   #2
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Re: Is Chevy Express 1500 adequate?

For a point of reference: My E350 with a modified EB14 floorplan had enough weight capacity that either myself of my wife could go. With both of us, we were overweight. We have never been checked however.

And, when S-K did the 4wd conversion the van got uprated with the stronger front axle and D70 rear axle.

SMB conversion are heavy. I don't think a 1500 can handle a full conversion and still be under GVWR. But, as above, probably it will never be checked. There are a lot of Lance campers on pickups that are way overweight, but nobody checks.


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Old 11-27-2011, 12:35 AM   #3
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Re: Is Chevy Express 1500 adequate?

I think it says on the SMB web site they don't do conversions on Chevy 1/2 ton vans. I've never heard of one either.
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Old 11-27-2011, 06:09 PM   #4
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Re: Is Chevy Express 1500 adequate?

Originally Posted by dhally
I think it says on the SMB web site they don't do conversions on Chevy 1/2 ton vans. I've never heard of one either.
Yup. They do the E150, but the E150 has an 8600# GVWR vs 7300# on the Express 1500, which leaves too little capacity for a full build. It may work for a partial-build however.
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Old 11-27-2011, 08:38 PM   #5
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Re: Is Chevy Express 1500 adequate?

i very well could be wrong about this, but i think i remember smb telling me that they will do pop tops on the chevy/gm 1500 awd but not much else inside, etc becuase of the wieght.
i too came from a syncro westy and was also looking at the chevy awd... in the end i found the e350 quigley eb50 to be so much better than the westy, but im sure i sucks a lot more fuel than the chevy 1500....
i think that for snowy roads, limited fire roads, etc the 1500 awd would be great if you only want to do a partial build.
have fun,
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Old 11-30-2011, 04:26 PM   #6
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Re: Is Chevy Express 1500 adequate?

We love our 1500 AWD van! BUT you must go about the interior upfit with a "WESTY" mentality. You might want to check out my build thread.

Basically, we can have a week's worth of provisions for my wife and i. Provisions are packed securely in action packers under the sleep platform. We can shower and bathroom stuff and cook if we choose to inside, though we prefer setting up the kitchen tent if going out for more than a couple nights. All loaded with full tank and my wife and i the van weighs in at ~6800lbs for a week long adventure. Highway miles we usually average between 17-19mpg, and city between 15-17mpg with full time AWD.

Best wishes on your build.


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