Van Conversions

Written by Patricia Tunstall
Bookmark and Share

Van conversions are the happy result of combining spacious, stable vans with customized, luxury vehicles. Significantly, these custom vans are also known as luxury vans for the standard and optional features that completely revamp the original stock passenger or cargo van. By the time a converted van is ready for purchase, it has become a mobile comfort station that can easily carry families, teams, and groups, and their gear.

The most reliable, sturdy chassis are used for the foundation of these van conversions. General Motors, Chevrolet, Dodge, Ford--all are represented in the lineup of van conversions manufactured by converter companies. General Motors Corporation (GMC) has the Savana, its full-size van; Chevrolet contributes its minivan, the Astro, and the very popular, full-size Express. The Dodge Ram Van is preferred by many knowledgeable consumers, and the Ford Econoline is favored for its sizable interior.

Van Conversions Versus SUVs

Sport utility vehicles (SUVs) are all the rage, even though their four-wheel drive and other sport utility features are often overkill for those who only take them on shopping trips or use them for commuting. Compared to van conversions, SUVs lack so many features and amenities, it is difficult to discern practical reasons for their popularity. For families or groups that need seating and cargo room--and want color TV, video game prep, power sofas, surround sound with subwoofers, high-back Captain chairs, deluxe carpeting--van conversions provide as many luxurious features and space as you could want.

Besides plenty of room to move around in, and besides customized interiors, conversions outshine SUVs in almost every way. They offer a more comfortable ride, a lower step-in, wider doors, and better access to all seats. They are generally more fuel-efficient, and they certainly are more versatile with their fold-down/removable seats.

Motorhome Vans

For those unfamiliar with recreational vehicles (RVs), these overnighters are classified in three major groups: Class A, B, or C. Class A RVs are the big homes you see rolling down the highways; Class Bs are often called camper vans, and include the best-selling Road Trek; Class C has the distinctive overhang above the cab that is usually used for sleeping arrangements, but otherwise has the amenities of Class A vans. The major distinction between these motorhome vans and conversion vans is often size, but motorhomes also have all the features of home: bathroom, bedroom, living room.

Road Trek is a converted van, built around a Chevrolet chassis. This is the #1-selling Class B motorhome in North America. The second bestseller is Pleasure Way, which uses the Chrysler B3500 maxi van chassis, although the new Dodge Plateau uses the Dodge Sprinter chassis. Class B motorhomes are maneuverable, permit overnight stays on the road, and combine the size of a van with the comforts of home.

Van Conversions for the Disabled

Van conversions have brought mobility and independence to the disabled. The remarkable features that are now available for those with reduced mobility have enabled them to drive themselves to work or to shop. The voluminous capacity of full-size vans permit maneuvering room for wheelchairs, storage for equipment, and seats for passengers.

Before purchasing or adapting a van, there are many laws and conditions to consider. Fortunately, there are many resources for the disabled to help them sort out the prerequisites for driving, and many organizations that can help with information about selecting the right vehicle, among other things. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is a good place to start; it provides invaluable information on cutting expenses, licensing requirements, and other critical concerns that will assist the disabled to get on the road.

Bookmark and Share