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TeleSteve 06-11-2015 08:18 PM

2010 Express AWD build,The Gnarvan
1 Attachment(s)
Hello, first post to the forum, been lurking for a while as I searched for a van. I just recently picked up a 2010 Express Cargo AWD. I plan to convert it primarily for winter camper use. I am a pro telemark skier and spend much of the winter roaming in search of good snow. It will also be used for my other more leisurely outdoor activities including mountain biking, rock climbing, fly fishing, and getting to trail heads for backpacking.
Here it is as I brought it home.

I have been searching since February for one that had the options I was looking for. This was the closest I found within a reasonable distance. It has 3.73 gears, G80 locking differential, remote power locks, power windows, barn side doors, wraparound headlights , and as a plus it isn't white. Most of these are hard to find in a cargo model.
The only things I was hoping to get but will add or live with out are rear push out windows, side door windows, cruise control and tilt steering.
I have a long to do list that seems to keep growing the more I look through these forums. At this point I am hoping to insulate and build out the interior in RB-50 like layout, install a passenger seat swivel, house batteries with solar charger, a heater, cold and possibly hot water system, and a power inverter. I will likely upgrade to a double din stereo with backup camera, and replace/add some speakers
For the exterior I am doing a 4-5" of lift and probably around a 33" tire. I will likely build a rear swing out spare tire rack, a swing out storage box & rack, a roof rack and ladder. The stock chrome bumpers will be painted black and possibly some fog lights frenched into the front.
I will be adding a hitch receiver, trailer brake controller, and 7-prong trailer wiring. For medium size trailer use, small boats and snow mobiles.

TeleSteve 06-11-2015 09:31 PM

Re: 2010 Express AWD build,The Gnarvan
3 Attachment(s)
So far I have installed a suspension lift using torsion keys, front shock spacers (temporary until I buy longer shocks probably Bilstein 5100 #24-186643), 2" rear lift blocks, and longer KYB 3/4 ton Express rear shocks (KYB 554348). I might upgrade rear springs to 3/4 ton suburban springs, but will wait to see how it rides once it is built out and loaded, drives well empty. This was all pretty easy and most of the information came from this forum. Thank you for that!
Here it is with the 2-3" suspension lift

I also did a 2" body lift. This was a little more to bite off, I wasn't able to find any aftermarket kits or information for more than a 1" body lift (zurens build). The body lift was pretty straight forward using twelve 2" body lift spacers and 12- M14.2 x 150mm long bolts. A few modification are needed to make everything work properly. I had to make 2" fan shroud spacers to drop the lower shroud down. This required some minor trimming of the bottom two corners to clear the bottom of the core support and two new holes drilled in the shroud. For spacers I used about 3 feet of 1"x2" .095 wall aluminum tube cut and mitered to follow the shape of the shroud seems. Six longer M6 x 170 mm bolts are needed to connect the upper and lower shroud. The steering intermediate shaft was not long enough so it was cut, sleeved and welded to extend it 2". Aftermarket extensions may be available through Performance Accessories, but cost around $150. That is all that needs modifying.
A 2" body lift creates some big bumper to body gaps so the bumper mounting brackets needed modifying. The fronts were the most work. I removed the bottom two lips and welded new pieces in to create the 2" rise, A 2" square tube is used to space the top down. This requires a tiny bit of trimming to the front frame horns, about 1/4". If you don't mind trimming more (about 1.5" you could just remove the bottom lip and drill a hole in the bottom of the bracket.


TeleSteve 06-11-2015 09:34 PM

Re: 2010 Express AWD build,The Gnarvan
3 Attachment(s)
The rear bumper was pretty simple, It only requires one new slot in the end of the frame horn and one slot on the bumper bracket lengthened. The bolt spacing needed to get a little closer so I used the bolt tabs from the side support brackets. The side support brackets can just be moved up one hole and only use one bolt instead of two. The spare tire will likely be mounted to swing out carrier, but if not I will either move the hole mount up for more ground clearance and to utilze the lowering hoist hole in the body. A hole could be drilled in the plastic bumper cover to allow it to work in its current location.
Middle slot was added to frame

Bottom slot was extended up and down on bracket

Here is the van with 2-3" suspension lift and 2" body lift:

The bumpers were test fitted with the modified brackets but left off so I can strip the chrome and paint them black, I will also paint the chrome grill while it is off.

I am currently shopping for wheels and tires will probably go with the new BFG All Terrain KO2 around 33" tall.

Thank you to all you AWD Express/Savana guys who have shared your builds!

jtek 06-12-2015 07:45 AM

Re: 2010 Express AWD build,The Gnarvan
Looks like you are off to a great start. Is that your final lifted-height?

rockbender 06-12-2015 11:51 AM

Re: 2010 Express AWD build,The Gnarvan
Amazing find on the non-white cargo with LTZ front and 3.73 gears! Those were a few of the things on my wish list, but unfortunately came away with none of these!

That gearing will end up perfect with a 33" tire I think. Looking foward to the continued progress!

carringb 06-12-2015 01:55 PM

Re: 2010 Express AWD build,The Gnarvan
Another GnarVan!

TeleSteve 06-12-2015 06:04 PM

Re: 2010 Express AWD build,The Gnarvan

Originally Posted by jtek
Looks like you are off to a great start. Is that your final lifted-height?

Yes, but those are still the stock size tires (roughly 30" tires) With 33s it will sit about 1.5" higher.

TeleSteve 07-12-2015 10:20 PM

Re: 2010 Express AWD build,The Gnarvan
3 Attachment(s)
I have been slowly working on the van. A lot of wiring for seat heaters, stereo, backup camera, trailer lights, trailer brake controller, and fog lights.

Seat Heaters:

TeleSteve 07-12-2015 10:25 PM

Re: 2010 Express AWD build,The Gnarvan
2 Attachment(s)
Stereo installed, and added switches for seat heaters and fog lights:

Back up camera:

TeleSteve 07-12-2015 10:29 PM

Re: 2010 Express AWD build,The Gnarvan
3 Attachment(s)
I added a seat swivel to the passenger seat while the seat was out. Since the swivel plate added 1 5/8" to the seat height I cut down the seat base.

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