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1998 Chevy AWD Astro Van - Don’t Call It Mini

Posted in Features on February 9, 2015
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It isn’t often you find a minivan in the pages of Petersen’s 4-Wheel & Off-Road. But then again, this isn’t your average minivan. Gabe Metzger’s ’98 Astro AWD Van has a V-8, solid axles, and coilovers. Now do we have your attention?

It all started innocently enough when Gabe added a small lift kit for some added ground clearance to get him to remote rock climbing destinations. Gabe has comfortably lived out of his van for weeks at a time, each trip a learning experience regarding which creature comfort or mechanical upgrade to add next. By now he has all of the details worked out and can enjoy his Astro Van wherever, and for however long, his travels take him.

Gabe’s Astro Van has no shortage of storage space or access to all of his tools and camping gear. The custom tubular rear bumper holds a fullsize spare and swings out of the way with the tailgate.

Tech Specs
1998 Chevy AWD Astro Van
Engine: 350ci fuel-injected V-8
Transmission: 700R4
Transfer case: NP231C
Front Axle: High-pinion Dana 44 with 4.10 gears and TruTrac
Rear Axle: Ford 9-inch with 4.10 gears and Trac-Lok

Springs & Such: Fox coilovers and radius arms (front); leaf springs and Fox shocks (rear)
Tires & Wheels: 32x11.5R15 BFGoodrich All-Terrain KOs on 15x8 Pro Comp steel wheels
Steering: AGR Saginaw steering box and pump, Bulletproof Steering tie rod and draglink
Other Stuff: Hydroboost, 15-gallon water tank, fridge, futon, 124-watt solar panel

That is a smog-legal 350 engine under the stubby hood, swapped from a K1500. Dual Flex-a-lite 11-inch electric fans with a three-core radiator keep the small-block cool in the tight engine bay. The engine is mated to the original 700R4 transmission, but the fulltime transfer case was swapped out for a NP231.
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