Chevy Enthusiast via Hooniverse: The 1964-70 Chevy G-Van; Just the Basics, Dude


During the 1950’s, Chevrolet was virtually on fire with their entire product line, and by 1955, it looked like they could do no wrong. From the revised V-8 equipped Corvette, to the new Task Force Truck Line – including the introduction of the Chevy Cameo Carrier – Chevrolet had a vehicle for every want and need. Unfortunately, they didn’t cover enough especially when a big recession hit for 1958. Americans were soon discovering inexpensive, economical cars and trucks that were being imported from Japan and Europe at record levels.


It was during this period that Chevrolet was hard at work trying to counter the imports with the unconventional Corvair. While the VW Sedan was the target for the Corvair Sedans, Chevy was ready to lob a counterattack to the successful VW Micro Van in the form of the Corvan and Greenbriar. Much like the Corvair at the time of introduction, the Corvan was “state-of-the-art” – a commercial vehicle equipped with fully independent suspension, wide panel doors (available on both sides of the van as an option!), a three passenger seat up front, and the option of a fully automatic transmission. It was more powerful and heavier than the VW counterpart, and it could carry more payload.
At the same time, Ford introduced a conventional Econoline Van, based loosely on the Falcon compact, with a standard six-cylinder engine enclosed in a doghouse between the seats. A solid beam front axle, and leaf springs all around was a testament to its simplicity. Cheap and reliable, it became a best seller, outselling both the VW and the Corvan by a wide margin. Even before the first full production year concluded for the Corvan, Chevy was working on their own version of the Econoline. The parameters were clear: Simple design using as many off-the-shelf components as possible, conventional power train, ample cargo space, and low price. This was achieved in record time with the introduction of the 1964 G-Series Van in January.

Where the Corvan was state of the art, the G-Series was a definite throwback to the past. It borrowed the suspension design right from the 40’s, with a solid-beam front axle and semi-elliptical leaf springs, along with a solid rear axle also suspended by leafs. Other cost conscious efforts include borrowing the Chevy II 90 HP four cylinder engine, not offering power steering or power brakes, and the use of a flat front windshield, which saved development costs. The few options include the 120 HP six cylinder engine, 2 speed powerglide automatic, and windows that were simply cut into the sheet metal at the factory.

Changes were few for the duration of production. Initial vans rode on a 90 inch wheelbase. For 1965, a Passenger Model made its debut, and the 90HP Four Cylinder was dropped. The optional engine for 1965 was a 140HP “Hi-Torque” Six, and was virtually unchanged for 1966. 1967 brought a facelift to the van in the form of a more rounded windshield, and moving the headlamps lower to be integrated with the grill. A new 108 inch wheelbase model was added, as well as an optional 283 CID V-8. There was also the option of a heavy duty G20 van, available only in the long wheelbase. Power Steering, Power Brakes or Air Conditioning was still not available as options.

1970 was the last year for the Forward Control Chevy Van, with a few notable changes. The 283 CID V-8 was ditched in favor of the 307 CID V-8 in ’69, but the new 350 CID V-8 was finally available for the van. Air conditioning was also available, but it was a hastily engineered roof mounted unit. Still no power steering or power brakes offered. These were replaced with the “Snub Nosed” Vans that went into production in 1971, and were relatively unchanged for the better part of 2 decades! A funny thing happened right after their replacement though. These vans (along with the Ford and Dodge forward control vans) became the vehicle of choice for the Woodstock generation, with expressive graphics, and sinful interiors, they were easy to work on, easy to keep running, and inexpensive to purchase.

They were either loved or loathed, depending on who you asked. If you grew up in the early 70’s, name another vehicle that was so readily identifiable during this time period. It was the time of war protests, sit-ins, peace signs, Jimi Hendrix, tie-dye t-shirts, pot brownies, civil rights, and free love – and Sammy John’s Chevy Van played for most of 1974 on every pop-music radio station. The Chevy Van was a phenomena during this period, only to be forgotten a few years later. You could do a lot worse that find one of these Groovy Vans. Read the latest issue of Chevy Enthusiast!

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  1. soo΄pәr-bādd75 Avatar

    Nice one, UD, I didn't realize that these things weren't available with V8 power or A/C until late. They're neat vans, and I've always dug the forward control vans. I guess they all remind me of the VW Microbus, which is of course the coolest van of all time. Nice wirte-up man, I hope you'll have more of this type of thing here, I've enjoyed all of your Bow-Tie coverage.

  2. Tanshanomi Avatar

    This article makes me both immensely happy and tragically depressed.
    "As for the Road Warrior, he lives now only in my memory…"
    <img src="http://www.tanshanomi.com/temp/gmcvan.jpg"&gt;
    And just for the record, the flat windshield is a requirement. The '67 and later models' feeble attempt at aerodynamic efficiency offends me.

  3. CptSevere Avatar

    I love these vans. A box on wheels, nothing more simple or honest.

  4. Black Steelies Avatar

    cool! i want one…

  5. muthalovin Avatar

    I thought that Pro-Tools van said PAH TOOLS when I glanced at the photos. Now that would be a business to get into.

  6. Goingincirclez Avatar

    Excellent write-up. And I never knew these existed, I've never seen one or heard of them before. Not a bad-looking van by any measure; I've always been fond of those early Econolines but I have to give credit, this is a nice-looking vehicle I would be happy to own.
    Funny how back then people had simpler demands, huh? The techno-phile van lost the market to its neanderthal sibling and cousins. Just TRY that today, and you'd be laughed right out of business. Sad on so many levels.

  7. FTGDHoonEdition Avatar

    Great article, loved it!

  8. Feds_II Avatar

    I actually think these are my favorite FC vans. They're not nearly as pretty as the Econolines or A100's, but they have an air of slapdashery too them that can only come from being late to a market.

  9. Charles_Barrett Avatar

    Thanks UDMan for another great, informative write-up…!

  10. Van Sarockin Avatar
    Van Sarockin

    Good trucks. But nowhere near as good as Econolines, or their Dodge counterparts.

  11. Mister X Avatar
    Mister X

    Back in high school ('71) a buddy had one of these which had a 283 V8 installed and it was a BLAST to drive, he'd loan it to me to do tune-up's and such. It did great burners and hauled ass.

  12. BobbyBshift Avatar
    BobbyBshift

    Just bought my 15 year old son one to fix up with him. It's a 67 Chevy G-10. These are getting rare in good shape. We were looking for over 6 mos. !

  13. smiley Avatar
    smiley

    Very good information. By the way, there are some of us who've never "forgotten". Visit the Vintage Chevy Van Club! http://www.vcvc.org

  14. dreamweaver Avatar
    dreamweaver

    right on smiley we are here in growing numbers

    1. Macsdoghouse Avatar
      Macsdoghouse

      yes we vanners are all still here,although not near the numbers as in the 70s and 80s. Still have a national truck-in every year at different locations in the U.S As for the comments about the fords and dodges being superior to the chevys I dont think so!!!
      They(ford/dodge) never came with V8 small block block power or 4 speed manuals on the column from the factory. I personally like em all as far as the F/C design, But ya cant beat a chevrolet!!!! Sorry!
      MAC…
      P.S To the author First Gen chevys 64-66 did have an option for power brakes it was a delco hydroboost system working four drums

      1. boxdin Avatar
        boxdin

        The 63-65 or so Econoline most certainly did come w a 4sp trans w column shift. This is well documented on other sites I can't remember now. Start w http://www.vannin.com

  15. G-Man Avatar
    G-Man

    Hey Mac!!! How have you been I loves my two Chevy vans also. Earlie Econolines never had V8's , But Dodge A100's did before Chevy. Econolines did have a 4 speed also.

  16. Roonie Duncan (VP) Avatar
    Roonie Duncan (VP)

    Great article and have owned my 1965 G-10 "VankyPanky" since 1973. I have been concerned about the numbers of vanners we lose every year due to attrition since the medium age for vanners may be in the sixth decade bracket. Not enough young vanners are encouraged in the van scene today. It appears vanning is a dying breed and am open to suggestions on how to revive vanning before it is too late. Thanks. Roonie Duncan (aka VankyPanky) Duncanfamily1@roadrunner.com

  17. cálculo interés compuesto Avatar

    Thanks for your submission. I would also like to say that the first thing you will need to accomplish is determine if you really need credit improvement. To do that you have got to get your hands on a copy of your credit profile. That should really not be difficult, considering that the government makes it necessary that you are allowed to receive one free copy of your real credit report yearly. You just have to consult the right folks. You can either find out from the website owned by the Federal Trade Commission or maybe contact one of the main credit agencies right away. Intereses Prestamos

  18. Dave Avatar
    Dave

    Owned 2 late G10 90's a 67 and a 69 Out 350s in both of them. The 69 would wheelie if you dropped the clutch at 4500 RPM. That or frag the driveshaft. Sold the last one 17 years ago. Getting harder to find good ones now and if I do, you can be sure I'll be retaining it to the end of my days

  19. Sonofmydad Avatar
    Sonofmydad

    Wow. Got a little misty for my non-window '64 which was wiped slick half a block from "5-points" in Norfolk VA in 1984! Still *miss* that KISS-Principle, bump-steering little so-&-so with its sloppy 3-in-the-tree (and, no-spit, 20.4 MPG). Mine wasn't pretty as any in your pictures but it could hang a U-turn without curbing a tire, places I wouldn't try that with a PINTO. Thanks much for some memories revisited, even if it hurt a bit!

  20. Lorne Salt Avatar
    Lorne Salt

    Finally ! ! Someplace I could possibly find somebody with an early Chevy van that lives on the west coast ! Or am I the only one out here piloting a 69 no door . I go to car shows ,Econolines for days ! But alas no Chevys ! Then I go to a "Van in" toys for tots run . So I figure , great cause we'll get a couple a toys go down there and rub elbows with van guys but alas nooo Chevys not even Econolines' ! What's there you might ask? RV's !!! Freakin' R freakin' V's !! Not even vintage ones ! I drive a 100 mi one way for that ! So if you live in the Bay Area and have a van club I would love to hear from you . Read that VAN CLUB not R freakin' V club ! Thank you RAREBIRD

  21. dave Avatar
    dave

    I just got a 66 chevy van love it I also have a69 chevelle but love the van more rare is nice no check engine lite 2 worry about

  22. Greg Avatar
    Greg

    Hi has anybody come up with a power steering conversion for the '67- '70 vans??

    1. PRORIVER 386 Avatar
      PRORIVER 386

      yup . try a setup from a early 70,s f-250 4×4 – it will work with a little cutting & welding! I KNOW!!

  23. Skydvjr Avatar
    Skydvjr

    Looking for a website to buy front leaf springs for my 1963 chevy van, can anyone help me with this. Thanks

  24. KDeBord Avatar
    KDeBord

    Has anyone converted a 1967 GMC van from manual steering to power steering?

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