Classic Cars

Unique of the Week: 1965 Chevy G Van Hot Rod

Looking for something different to drive around town? This V8-powered classic Chevy G Van is sure to draw plenty of admiring stares.

Full-size conventional vans are becoming a thing of the past. Before the arrival of the minivan, and later SUVs and crossovers, whenever people required a vehicle with more space than a station wagon, a van represented their only option. In many cases, these types of vans built by Ford, Chrysler and GM were very common among small business owners but were still used for family hauling duties.

The VW Bus, by comparison, was far more popular with the Sixties counter culture movement but you could still find a Detroit-built van carrying a surfboard or two parked along a beach boardwalk. The Chevy G-Series Van first hit the market in 1964. Also called the Sportvan, this was GM’s first foray into the compact van market with the vehicle built on a modified car platform. Its engine was taken from the Corvair and was sandwiched between the two front seats. In this first generation, a total of three engines were offered, including a 2.5-liter inline-four with 90 horsepower, a 3.2-liter straight-six with 120 hp and a 3.8-liter inline-six with 140 hp.

Transmission options included a three-speed manual or a two-speed Powerglide. Chevy made minor changes to the first-gen until 1967 when its replacement arrived. Basically, the new G Van was a heavily facelifted version of its predecessor, only now it could be had with a pair of optional small-block V8s along with two other smaller inline-sixes. Chevy also began to offer an optional long wheelbase version and a heavy duty 3/4 ton van that increased hauling capacity. It took until 1971 for the first major redesign to come, which saw the engine move forward and the creation of an actual hood.

A range of engines were offered, everything from that familiar inline-six to the small-blocks and a couple of diesel V8s. Throughout the Seventies and Eighties the van received regular updates with respect to both styling and mechanics. Along with its competitors from Ford and Chrysler, the G Van was regularly converted for ambulance duties and other sorts of workhorse needs. Amazingly, this generation managed to stay on the market until 1996 when GM finally opted to discontinue it entirely. It was replaced by the Chevy Express which remains on sale today.

During the G Van’s 32-year production run, millions of owners modified their vans to suit their needs, some to more extremes than others. For example, this 1965 Chevy G Van that was recently up for sale on eBay has been turned into a hot rod panel van. With its custom flat brown paint and hand-drawn pinstripe, the owner also tossed out the original engine in a favor of a Chevy 350 V8. The seller claims there’s absolutely zero rust and it’s currently being used as a daily driver in California. Aside from a few minor dents and scratches here and there, the body is in good shape considering its age.

At the moment, it doesn’t have a radio or a sound/stereo system of any kind and it could also use a mechanical touch-up at some point. Point being, all of the bones are in place to further convert this hot rod van into something that's just insanely cool. The winning bid came in at $9,100.

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