We’re creeping up on about a year since our second retail store has been open in Alsip, IL outside of Chicago. This store has been growing steadily and we’re very thankful for the acceptance into the classic car community! Store Manager Trevor and his crew at the store decided they wanted to take on building up a vintage delivery van for a multi-purpose vehicle they could take to local cruise-ins, car shows, and to potentially deliver product locally. Sure we could have bought a brand new, crisp white Ford Transit and called it a day; but what’s the fun in that!
This story starts when Trevor and his crew found a 1974 Chevy One Ton Step Van with only 87,000 miles sitting locally in a nearby lot to the store. It had been long-forgotten but “ran when parked”. Despite its dismal looks, it actually had a lot going for it! It had a factory Chevy 350 motor with a 4 bolt main, manual transmission, and a tandem rear axle. The body is also made up of mostly aluminum which means the typical rust issues on these old delivery vehicles wasn’t an issue. To top it all off the frame was rock solid and wasn’t all rotted out like many from the rust belt. Best part, the asking price wasn’t much more than the scrap value, so how could they lose?
Trevor and the Alsip store crew drug it back to store headquarters and started looking over what needed attention immediately. With the brutal Chicago winter creeping up, the leaky roof skin was an immediate concern. The crew drilled out and ground off all of the rivets holding the roof skin on and cleaned the mating surfaces up with a wire wheel and Eastwood PRE. The panel couldn’t be reinstalled dry as there would still be small gaps that water could leak through and also those gaps could open during temperature changes and flexing of the box during use. They decided to use Eastwood Flexible Seam Sealer across the entire seam of the roof panel to ensure a water tight seal. Rivets were then reinstalled across the roof and the truck was at least water-tight for the impending snow.
The truck also had some unnecessary parts removed including a pair of home-brewed bumpers that weighed close to 500 pounds together! They also removed all of the broken marker and taillights to prep around those areas for paint and to also find suitable replacements. The engine was compression checked and all cylinders were found to be within spec and a suitable candidate for a “refresh”. The refresh included going through the engine and replacing wear items and upgrading some bolt-on parts like the oil pump, exhaust manifolds, etc. This should at least give the engine a new lease on life!
Once the crew dug into the suspension the story was all too familiar for an old delivery van like this, everything was overly worn, especially rubber parts, and needed replaced. They also will take the precautions of replacing all flex lines and rebuilding the calipers and rear wheel cylinders. This thing needs to stop as well as it looks!
At this point the only proper way to continue with the project was to remove the body from the chassis so they could tackle the next part of the restoration. Trevor and the crew made up some heavy–duty body stands that could support hovering the body over the chassis. With a crew of eager (and some not so eager) guys they lifted the body up and off the chassis with the help of a forklift and set it on the stands. They then rolled the chassis out from under the body and removed the drivetrain.
With the drivetrain removed they were able to split the engine and transmission apart. There’s a line on a cheap rebuilt 700-R so this manual shifting van may become an automatic! They tore the engine down and resealed and regasketed everything, all while adding some shiny bolt-ons to replace the greasy, rusted and dismal originals. The engine has a fresh coat of Yellow Cat Ceramic Engine Paint just out of frame of the last picture of the engine.
Since they were on a roll they decided to tear the chassis down and clean it up and stop the rust that was present. They started by degreasing the entire chassis with Chassis Kleen and knocking off any loose, scaly rust. They’ve just begun treating the chassis with Rust Converter and allowing the converter to fully convert the rust. Once the chassis is fully treated they will be applying a few coats of Rust Encapsulator and top coating with Chassis Black for a better-than-new finish.
We’re currently tossing around ideas of a custom paint job, Elastiwrap, or even maybe a custom vinyl wrap for the van, who knows maybe we’ll let you decide on a design! This van will also be getting some of our newest products including some items to allow this to function as a mobile fab shop if need be! Stay tuned, they’re just getting started this will be a fun one!