CHEVY ASTRO VAN – Everything You Need to Know | Up to Speed

CHEVY ASTRO VAN – Everything You Need to Know | Up to Speed

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(care engine roaring) (metal scraping) – Do you have a passion for
the ultimate family mobile? Something that can handle
a trip to Home Depot for plywood, Costco for groceries in bulk, a road trip across America with grandma to see Mount Rushmore, and trips to hockey practice
with the entire team? Well, mama and papa do
I have a car for you. A car that’s not a car. It’s a van. This is everything you need to know to get up to speed on
the Chevrolet Astro Van. (lighting striking) (upbeat electric music). Big thanks to this weeks sponsor Audible. Listen up Amazon Prime member. For a limited time, you
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the offer is only valid ’till July 31st. I’m excited to get my
membership so I can listen to The Boys In The Cave by Matt Gutman. Don’t know what it’s about, but I love caves. Visit Audible.com/uptospeed or text 500500 to get started today. That’s Audible.com/uptospeed. Support the companies that support Donut, we couldn’t make it without them. Now, back to the show. Before we start talking about vans, we should first mention the Station Wagon. The once upon a time stereotypical
American family vehicle. The Station Wagon dangerously carried Many-a-restless kid
across the American roads seat belts optional. But, in the late 1970s the sale of big gas guzzling Station
Wagons was on the decline. The do it all wagons
future was looking grim, partly due to the gas prices, but more partly due because
of the new category of cars. So, in 1984 the Chrysler
van program birthed, the Plymouth Voyager mini-van. The first of it’s kind, the Voyager was hugely popular for it’s ability
to tote all the kids around, get better gas mileage
then a Station Wagon, and, yes, be able to fit
in a garage safely away from those mean suburban streets, It was a great all around
package for the modern family, and GM quickly realized that
hey needed their own version of the the mini-van. – Should we make our own miniature van? – Uh Yeah! We already have one in the works. Don’t you know about it? – Uh, ‘course I do. What’s it called? – The Astro
– Astro! Yep, I said it first. I knew it, totally knew it. There’s a reason I’m the boss. Keeping with the space theme that Plymouth started with the Voyager, in 1985 Chevy released their all new not so mini mini-van the Chevy Astro, A van so sick, it cam time-warp, and drive on the rings of Saturn. The boxy middle van and
it’s twin GMC brother the Safari were only 1.5 inches shorter, and 2 and a half narrower than Chevy’s smallest full-size van. And, while it was seven inches shorter, and claimed to be able to fit in a garage, Chevy quickly acknowledged
their bulked up box on wheels, and used the middle van
status in their advertising. – [Man] The new Chevy Astro. Built to do more than a mini-van can. – Not a mini-van, not a full-size van, but a middle van. The real world giant box mobile had multiple seating configurations, allowing you to carry you, and seven of your so-called friends. Let’s be honest, they just wanted to sit In those comfy, cozy, fluffy, cloth bench seats. Or, you could take out all the seats, and use it as a cargo van. Unlike it’s mini-van competition, the Astro was built on a truck chassis, with a bolt-on sub frame. The front suspension shared many of the same components directly from the Caprice Station Wagon, while the rear had composite
leaf springs like the S-10. Engine options on the first year Astro, were either the 98 Mini Shetland Pony Horsepower 2.3 liter four cylinder, or the optional 165
midi-horsepower 4.3 liter V6. (engine roaring) And the placement of said engines? How bout’ right under the
front dash cup holders. You could swap out your battery, and check the oil in
the mini-hood up front. But, any serious work
would have to be done inside the van. A big bump in between
the two front seats got covered with a hatch, and gave way to an access panel, that once removed exposed
the engine on the Astro. Mechanics loved it. The coolest part, is that you could get it with a manual. That’s right, the base transmission that the Astro came with, was a four speed manual which is sick. And, you could get it with an optional five speed until 1989. After that they went full auto. But, I’m grateful that
it was manual at all. (chiming music) By the end of the eighties, the demand for mini-vans as family vehicles had largley superseded full size
Station Wagons in the US. Rest in peace Station Wagon. It wouldn’t be until 1989 that Chevy would release a more comparable
front wheel drive van to take on the Chrysler mini-van. The Lumina APV. But, that didn’t stop GM from also selling the Astro and the Safari. People loved it for it’s ability to not only haul kids around, but also haul stuff around. The Astro could pull five thousand pounds. No other mini-van was
pullin’ that kind of weight. It could also carry 1700
pounds in the cargo area. That’s a lot of fat little boys. – All right kids, let’s
go to hockey practice. – Can we all stop at McDonald’s? – Yeah, I want some nuggets. – Yeah, I wanna get a Big Mac. – Yeah, we can get the McDonald’s. – Yay, chunky butts on three. One, two, three, – [All] Chunky butts! – Chunky butts. – Side note, Chevy marketed
Astro van to fat people. – [Man] Tired of watching your weight? If you had a GMC Safari,
you wouldn’t have to. – With a strong commercial game like that, how could you not want an
Astro if you’re a chunky butt? Towards the final stretch
of the first gen Astro, GM really started to
turn up the technology. In 1990, the Astro came
with all wheel drive, as well as four wheel anti-lock brakes. Their competitors over at Ford, with the Aerostar. Again, another space theme van. What is the deal? They didn’t have ABS, all right? And, that’s pretty important when you’re carrying your fat little family around. And you got a space car, you don’t want regular doors, you want dutch doors. Two rear doors with flip
up windows on top of ’em. And Dutch people love ’em. Also because parents were
complaining about their fat little kids making a mess, Scotch Guard Fabric Protection also became a standard feature with
Astro vans with cloth seats. The second gen Astro came out in 1995, and Chevy was deep in the, let’s sell this thing as a tough dude all family vehicle game. Load the back up with dirt bikes, sure! Total horse trailer? Yeah! The Astro was tough like a rock! ♪ Oh, like a rock. ♪ – But not much really
changed from the first gen to the second gen Astros. They got updated headlights to match the rectangular ones on the Silverado. There was also only one engine option. The 4.3 liter Vortec V6. And, there was only one body option. The shorter version was ditched, They did improve that engine hatch in the center of the two front seats
to increase front leg room, and help cut down on interior noise. You know, since the
motor was inside the car? They improved dash installation too. You know, ’cause the
motor’s inside the car. (engine roaring) (tires screeching) The second gen also got passenger airbags which by the way, speaking of safety, the Astro was not safe. It eventually improved
from a one gold star rating in 1991, to three gold star rating, for the driver only in 2000. If you were a kid in the
eighties or nineties, and your friends had an Astro, they were the bell of the ball. But, if they had a conversion van Astro, they were the king of the ball. Companies like Glaval,
Mark III, and Star Craft, took the bone stock Astro, and turned them into
lush rich kids basements on wheels. The summer road trip van made visiting your grandparents not all that bad because you could watch freakin’
movies and play Super Nintendo all while sitting in the most comfortable captains chairs on the planet. Yeah, that’s right. It’s a chair for a freakin’ captain. He’s the leader of the ship. If your eyes got too tired from playing video games or watching
Mrs. Doubtfire on VHS, because of course it has a VHS player, You could just crawl on
over to the back bench seat, fold it down and take a big old nap. Safe? No. Comfortable? You betcha’ chunky little butt it is. – [All] Chunky butts – Chunky butts – My friend Vince’s dad had an Astro van, and we played Earthworm Gym for hours. And we were in the driveway. The Astro helped put conversion vans on the map for the masses. In 1994 there was
roughly 200,000 shipments of van conversions to dealers. People all over the world
loved their conversion Astros. Even this guy, AKA Russian James. (speaking in Russian) (retro video game sounds) The Astro space van would eventually end in 2005 as well as Chevy mini-vans. The venture to consolidate
for a single mini-van, the Uplander. But, that didn’t last long. Four years later, Chevy left
the mini-van market completely, and while the majority
of Astro’s have found their way into the hands
of construction workers, van life hipsters, or
sadly even junk yards, it still remains as the
not so mini mini-van that warmed our fuzzy little
nostalgic chunky butts. (upbeat electronic music)

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