Way back in 2011, Jim Cavanaugh asked the question in regard to the Chevy Astro: “How Hard Can It Be To Make A Minivan?” The essence of it was why GM and Ford didn’t essentially copy Chrysler’s formula for its very successful FWD minivans (Caravan/Voyager). Although the taller RWD Chevy Astro and Ford Aerostar didn’t sell as well as the Chrysler twins, they did sell in healthy numbers, and filled some niches that the Chryslers didn’t.
With the benefit of hindsight, it’s now become all-too obvious that the Astro not only had a very long run, to 2005, but their survival rate is much higher than the early Chryslers and Aerostar, both of which have become rather rare. I see gobs of Astros all the time, and the AWD versions are highly coveted and equally highly-priced. And they’re cult objects in Japan. I knew this almost-pristine swb van was from before the 1995 front end restyle, but according to its license plate, it’s a 1985.
This van has me slightly stumped, since it’s a non-window body typically used by (and loved) by the trades and such. But it has a two-tone paint job, and it’s in such good nick. One of those mysteries.
According to the VIN, it’s got the 4.3 L V6. Did they actually make many with the 2.5 L Iron Duke? If so, they must have been a bit poky, and undoubtedly their survival rate was likely lower.
The Astro had a few shortcoming, like a lack of legroom for the driver and front passenger. But they obviously didn’t get in the way of it becoming one of the all-time long-life vehicles. A simple and common drive train in a compact box had, and still has enduring appeal.