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Conversion Vans



  • dunkmydonutdunkmydonut Posts: 35
    I too have had a brake problem with the ABS. I wish I just put a piece of black tape over the dash light. The brakes were fine until Ford got to work on it. Now after multiple trips back, I have to live with a spongy pedal. Other than that the van has been good. I have a 96 high top. I like the comfort of the high top, but it comes with with it's own problems such as parking both in lots, buildings and garages, both home and repair shops. I do miss being able to go through car washes that I could fit into with the low top van. Also I feel the wind buffeting more in the high top. Feel like a billboard some windy days. Other than that I'm happy with it.
  • I own an internet mobile skateboard shop / company. I have come to the conclusion that my daily operations will be more efficient if I do it all out of a cargo van.
    Who knows which make and model cargo van is the most reliable? I'm thinking about buying a 1998.
    Thank you. EMAIL:
  • sebringjxisebringjxi Posts: 140
    With Glaval and Mark III out of business, who's still converting vans. We're on our second E150 Ford high-top conversion. The first was a '91 and was wonderful, the second is a '96 Centarus (also out of business) and is fantastic. Two things I've learned since 1991, never trust the dealer when he says, "Oh, that's no problem, the conversion company will fix that." and never trust the conversion company when they say, "Oh, that's no problem, the dealer will fix that." In all reality, my service with both vans has been very good. I still chuckle when I recall the dealer telling me that LCM (manufacturer) was the best in the business and that the Centarus conversions were the Mercedes of conversion vans--hey, they got the same stuff in them all the other conversions do and the quality is debatable! Now we're approaching the mileage at which we usually trade and I'm begining to look around and geez, where's all the conversion vans. My kids are in college and just the wife and I now, so I might consider a Expedition or Navigator, but I really like the conversion van.

    Is Choo Choo Conversions in Chattanooga still in business? Gladiator? Who's got the best conversion for daily usage on the market right now?

  • mrnimmomrnimmo Posts: 271
    Or similar van from GM? The factory jobbies now have four captains and video. And my impression is that fit and finish is far superior. Leather is available, but you won't get all that fake hardwood or twenty pounds of vinyl striping on a factory van. No hightop available but the low top is more usuable if you intend to carry canoes, bikes or luggage on the top. And the factory van is crash tested. No conversion ever was to my knowledge.
  • jc1973jc1973 Posts: 63
  • vguardvguard Posts: 78
    The Chateau is what I have....but to get leather you need to go with the "Traveler", which is nothing but a Chateau with leather and the Video system and runs $higher$.

    I do agree with everything else you say.....both Ford and GM have created a perfect conversion van...without the bed of course. I would not own a fiberglass high top.

    I love my E-150 Chateau (4 captains chairs in cloth), but would consider the Traveler if I could get a DVD vs. VHS system.

  • pastormpastorm Posts: 2
    I'm in need of your advice/help. I'm in the market for a used full-sized van/wagon to pull a 26' travel trailer for summer camping trips and handle two teenage boys!I saw a 1999 Ford E-150 Tuscany (Sleekstar model, low top)conversion van in Auto Trader (private party)and took a quick look. Having never ventured into van conversions I don't know what to make of them. The van specs include most bells and whistles. It has 52k and appears in immaculate shape. The asking price is $14,500. The warranty has expired. OK ... now the questions:
    1. Is this a fair price? NADA and Edmunds seem not to have price listings for conversion vans.
    2. I've heard conversion vans are prone to electrical problems. True? Other things they have problems with?
    3. Does Tuscany do good,reliable work?
    4. Do Ford E-150s hold up in the long run (100k and more)?
    5. Do conversion vans handle towing (this Ford has a 4.6L V8 engine)?
    Thanks so very much for helping this novice!
  • creidcreid Posts: 54
    I currently own a 01 Safari AWD. With (3) kids & large dog we find it difficult to pack up & take trips from Cincinnati to Texas. It seems we run out of room very quickly for all parties to be comfortable.
    Me & the wife are thinking of the above mentioned full size van. Is there some suggestions on these vehicles or should I be steared away & look at conversion done by outside vendors & not GM. We like the Safari but w/ the AWD system I get worse gas mileage than my friends w/ full size vans & I have alot less room than they. Any insight or suggestions is greatly appreciated.
  • Would anyone go with a Savanna or Express AWD conversion van over a Denali XL or Escalade ESV, for luxury people hauling?? Also, does anyone know what kind of poor weather (i.e. snow/rain/loose gravel) traction one could expect from a van compared to SUV. I really do not expect to take the vehicle off road, but I do drive up driveways which have several inches of snow or slush often. Who is the best in van conversions these days
  • depp1depp1 Posts: 1
    My father had a 1985 2500 Full-sized GMC conversion van, it was converted by Starcraft. We drove the hell out of this vehicle and it eventually fell apart in 99 or 00 with over 200K. We rebuilt the engine once, had the brakes worked on but it was all usual wear. It had it's share of small problems, but nothing really major and with 2 adults and 2 kids it was VERY luxurious. I think conversion vans have a TON more room than the Suburbans and Tahoes (you can actually stand up in a van, even without the pop-up roof), and with the Denali/suburban/tahoe price tag now at +$45K, I would take a conversion van any day over them. We towed our boat, hauled plywood, drywall and decking material, towed numerous cars and went on hundreds of boy scout adventures where we had it maxed out for capacity and it handled it all. Family trips were a breeze and we were spoiled. When we decided to finally get rid of it, it was very difficult to all ride as a family in a regular sedan again, seemed very small. Packing was impossible.

    It was RWD (as all vans were) but with the extra weight it didn't matter what the weather was, snow, loose gravel, sloppy mud/field after weekend of rain, it performed great.

    Now I am looking at purchasing my first van and I am going to the same GMC dealer my dad got his at. I am looking at a 2500 Full-sized GMC Explorer conversion. Not sure of all the options yet, I am sort of hoping I can still get a deal on a 2002 though I doubt it. Not sure I am ready to purchase a 1st year AWD van. Great concept but GM doesn't have a great record of 1st year success with redesigns. Having been in a family that owned a van for years I could care less that the doors are on both sides. Doesn't seem to make that much of a difference for my use, I can see some benefits but they don't sway me on just the fact that it has a drivers side passenger opening.

    Also, with the Explorer conversion there used to be an issue with the trailering wiring where Explorer would not bring the wires under the vehicle like normal instead you had to open the rear door and flip the wiring out of the passenger compartment, then close the rear door on the wires. Totally unacceptable in my book for properly wiring a hitch. This was a few years ago and they said Explorer would not drill a hole in the bottom of the passenger compartment because it would break the seal and allow moisture in. This sounds like complete BS to me since trailer wiring should tie in with the rear lights and not ever go inside the passenger compartment, but what do I know. I do know there is no way I will purchase the van if this is the case.

    Another gripe on the conversions I have seen is the price and quality of the video systems. I understand the flip down models, but it seems like you should be able to get a better quality TV in there. And VCP? Is there a reason I can't just go to Wal-mart and get a $50 VCR and have the ability to record as well? Why in the world do they only play and not record? I understand the logic of well you can't really get a signal, but why are they making special VCRs instead of just getting stock of the shelf at any electronics store? Also the one I saw had an option for a DVD that sort of awkwardly plugged into a cigarette lighter off the mid passenger drivers side console. Ridiculous when there is open space in the roof around the TV. Why not stack like a stereo system, bolt them down and enclose in a classy glass door? Also, the Explorer vans have a Nintendo option. That was great when I was a kid, but Sony Playstation is the ticket now, why not have an option for all of them with wireless controllers? Why not offer DirectTV satellite like they have on 18-Wheeler trucks? No option for a CB? Maybe I can understand that, but why does the Denali get a full touch screen mapping On-Start program and the vans don't? No option of Lo-Jack? It just seems like the video system could be much much better.

    Other interesting things, it seems like it is IMPOSSIBLE to find a dealer around the St. Louis, MO area that sells a Chevy van conversion, they are all GMC. In other areas of the country it is impossible to find a GMC converter. Anyone else noticed this? I saw a very nice Chevy conversion by a company called Southern Comfort, but they are down south in AL or GA or something. If I call up a Chevy dealer and ask for a van here all they will have are cargo vans.

    Let's see, what were some of the other questions here. Parking garages were fine for us with the old van, did not have a pop-up roof. The pop-up will prevent you from going into most garages, but that isn't really a big deal most places have large vehicle parking now.

    Finally, I would appreciate it if anyone can help guide me towards a pricing guide for the new conversion vans. I don't think the TMV has info on new conversion vans.

    Thanks all, look forward to your discussion.
  • nwraaanwraaa Posts: 170
    I read your comments with interest. I am convinced that there are no reliable sources for pricing conversion vans. I even subscribed to the NADA's Van/Truck conversion appraisal guide and found it basically useless. You can get reasonably good pricing estimates by viewing sources like, Ebay, and the auto advertising sections in weekend newspapers. (In this arena, Edmunds has also missed the mark.) New 2002-2003 GMC, Chevy, and Ford vans will cost from about $27,995 - 35,995.00. High end conversions such as Explorer, Starcraft, and Regency with leather seats and the wraparound ground effects kit will cost the most. Vans by Sherrod, LA West, Tuscany, Rocky Ridge, and Southern Comfort will be a thousand or two less. I have not mentioned Dodge because the conversion companies just don't seem to convert these as well as they convert GMCs, Chevys, and Fords. If you can't find the van that you want in your area, it is worth driving a few hundred miles to get the van that you want at the best price.
  • ssackssack Posts: 6
    I have been reading the comments about conversion vans with great interest since I bought my 2001 Gulf Stream conversion last March. Since I purchased it 1 year ago I have only travelled 10,000 miles. So far I have not had any serious problems with the van or its accessories, but I have not seen Gulf Stream mentioned. Does anyone else have a Gulf Stream and if so what is your opinion of the conversion. Mine is quite plain but great for the kids (I don't have to worry about them destroying nice high quality interior).Do the Gulf Stream conversion packages hold up through the years? I plan on keeping mine at least 12 years or so.
  • ssackssack Posts: 6
    I think I failed to mention that it is a 2001 GMC Savana.
  • maxima3xmaxima3x Posts: 4
    I purchased a 2002 Dodge 1500 Low Top Conversion Van 127" WB. in January 2003 that was converted by Zephyr Vans.
    This is a fairly basic package, w/ 4 captains chairs and sofa bed(non power )seating in the rear. Some accent lighting, overhead console, etc.
    I am so far (5,500 miles) very pleased with the Dodge platform. Very decent ride, no rattles, engine is smooth and overall build quality is very good.
    The Zephyr Conversion package is top notch. Overall, very good quality, fit & finish.

    Seeing the earlier notes on the absense of Conversion companies, I wanted to pass along this praise for Zephyr. If you are in the market for a new conversion van from Dodge(I think they do Ford too), they are worth a serious look.
  • Hello:

    My Name I. Gregory Miller. I too owned a 1999 Ford E-150 SHERROD Hi-Top conversion van. At 8000 - 9000 miles I noticed a significant decrease in the braking power. Being a former mechanic and auto enthusiast, off to the dealer 2x for repairs. They told me both times the brake system passed the standard "by the book testing." I explained to them the brake booster was not holding its vacuum. ( I could hear the vacuum hissing for 30 - 60 seconds after the engine was shut off) When the hissing stopped, the brake pedal was hard as a rock. I continued to tell the manager and supervisor "RIGHT NOW, LET US GO TO ANY VEHICLE, ANY MAKE. EVEN IF THE VEHICLE HAS BEEN NOT RUNNING FOR DAYS, THERE SHOULD BE VACUUM ASSIST LEFT IN THE BRAKE BOOSTER." The pedal should feel almost normal.

    They brushed me away and I told them "If I get into an accident because of my brakes, I'll own your dealership." I promise you....Well, 2 months later, at 14,116 miles I was faced with an emergency situation and the brakes just weren't there for me. I 'T'-boned another van and flipped over 3 times. The accident investigator stated how the distances and other details were cause for the accident and my attorney shyed away from a product liability issue. ( That is a long story ).

    Please let me know if you results parallel mine. Again, test any other vehicle with power brakes. A vacuum-assisted brake system should hold its vacuum supply for a reasonable time after the engine is shut off. I have found brake boost available after being parked for 5 - 7 DAYS. My van lost its vacuum boost after 60 seconds.

    Gregory Miller
    #239 of 260  van totaled anyone with brake problems by darkmanxr2  Sep 26, 2001 (5:00 pm)

    Had E150 Ford Conversion 1999. Had brake done 8/5/01 pm husband took to work 8/6/01 am Had to stop on FWY no Brakes Insurance Investigating. Suspected something odd with the way brakes went bad prior to repair, Did our mechanic make a mistake or has anyone else had problems with their brakes. Friend said she heard Ford may have defective brake system. Has anyone else heard about this. PLEASE LET ME KNOW. by the way my husband was OK praise God!
  • cschadtcschadt Posts: 1
    Anyone have information about AGOR enterprises, conversions ?? Please comment on good, or bad !!!
  • steverstever Posts: 52,683
    Never heard of them but the fact that they've been in business since '71 says a lot. Many conversion companies have come and gone over the years.

    There are some archived conversion van discussions you can find with the Search tool on the left, and there's one active one about pricing:

    Pricing (costing) conversion vans

    Hope this helps,

    Steve, Host
  • Can some one explain to us if we have done the right thing getting out of our mini and back into a full size van.. Is the explorer conversion a good one. Does the Ford E-250 hold up? How does one compare the price they paid or convince the bank that the loan value should be higher. Will the 5.4 perform well while towing a 2700 pound pop up camper? will 15mpg be about it? The venture van was about 16 towing a full dangerous load. Any information on where to purchase some add on items would be helpful as well. Thanks
  • I will be looking at purchasing a new tow vehicle in the not to distant future. I now have an E-150 custom van with 117,000+ miles on it. I pull one of 2 trailers grossing between 14,000 and 16,000 lbs. The van is still going strong. It has had rear springs replaced and rear bearings, axles and axle bearings replaced under warrantee. Now everything will be on me!! I get 7-8 mpg when pulling. About 10 locally, Barely 14 highway.

    Trucks are out! I have no need for one. No 4 wheel drive. I havn't need that in 43 years of driving.

    I am retired and I am leaning toward the E-250 window van with the new diesel, 5 speed trannie, and 350 rear. I am looking for the hauling ability, better mpg. Longevity! I can have the interior decorated locally to my likes.

    I make about 5-6 trips annually. Rest is local driving.

    Anyone have experience with the new diesels in truck or van?? How about short driving, short hops with it? Any problems? Ford fixed the original injector problems they had with some of them.

    Thanks, Bruce
  • steverstever Posts: 52,683
    Lots of questions, but the people with the answers must be cruising south for the winter!

    Steve, Host
  • I have a 2000 Ford E250 Explorer high top conversion. It appears the outside edge of the front tires are wearing more than the inside edge. Anyone with similar experience or is there any fixes for the problem. I had the dealer do the front end alignment after a change of tires and it still appears to wear on the outside edge.
  • I experienced a similar problem recently with my 2002 Dodge Van. I took my van in for a wheel alignment, and when I got it back I immediately noticed extreme tire wear on the outside edges.

    This is probably a camber adjustment that is needed. I had my dealer re-do the wheel alignment after showing him the tire wear. This solved my problem. I suspect that when the technician did the original alignment, he did not complete the job by checking "toe in/toe out settings".
    Hope this helps.
  • I've heard the new 6.0 diesel has had a lot of bugs to be worked out. I think if it was me, I might wait a bit. On the other hand, the new gas engines have a tendancy to blow out plugs..threads and all. Aluminum heads in them can't be heli-coiled. I was reading today about blowing out the spark plug in this guy's he needs a new engine. They've dumped the old style engines that lasted 200,000 or better. I guess this is progress.

    I have a 96 high top explorer that holds up well, although the front tires due tend to wear a little quicker on the outside edge. Not as bad as the twin I beam though. They have a rep for going through front brakes fast too.
  • raywhersraywhers Posts: 3
    I have a 1995 Ford with a CENTAURUS-LTD Converson package installed on it. I am looking for someone with one of these that I could talk to about the electrical system in the converson. I can be reached at
  • steverstever Posts: 52,683
    Did I mention the Got a Quick, Technical Question? discussion before? Maybe there's a wiring guru over there.

    Steve, Host
  • steverstever Posts: 52,683
    "The standard features in today's van have been dramatically updated from the classic vans of the 1980s, featuring better fuel economy and all-wheel drive.

    The modern vans also have more room inside and get better gas mileage than the biggest SUVs at about the same sticker price."


    Steve, Host
  • steverstever Posts: 52,683
    "The big vans once decorated with shag carpeting and beads have evolved into sophisticated vehicles for families and groups alike, and General Motors Corp. and two dozen companies are spending a couple of million dollars to spread that message and try to revive demand for the big, souped-up rides."


    GM, converters try to bring back the van (MSNBC)


    Steve, Host
  • hgerechthgerecht Posts: 2
    I am considering the purchase of a 2002 Dodge Zephyr Conversion Van with 27000 miles on it. Has anyone had experience with this van? What I should look for? What is the fair market value, etc?
  • bungybungy Posts: 2
    I am about to obtain a 1994 Astro Starcraft. I have been told that the electric rear seat that folds down to a bed is inoperative at this time. Apparently there are 4 nylon runners that traverse the threaded links and they are completely worn. Can somebody please give me a link as to where I can obtain replacements.

    Many thanks

  • I have a 1991 Chev van, Starcraft conversion that I have had excellent service with for the past 12 years. I have recently been offered a pretty good deal on a 1997 Starcraft van so I am reluctantly going to part with what has probably been one of the best vehicles I have ever owned. It has carried me from my home in Winnipeg to both coasts several times and to Mexico 9 times. As a result of all this traveling, it is getting up there in mileage, presently has 200,000 kilometers, (160,000) miles but all of that is highway driving. It has all the usual Starcraft toys, trailer towing package and has no rust whatever.
    What I would like to know is what sort of price I could expect to get for this van. None of the car price websites seem to have any pricing on conversion vans, just the straight factory vans.
This discussion has been closed.