1998 Chevrolet Express Conversion Van Is Our BaT Auction Choice

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  • This convertible van is definitely 1990s-inspired, with some interesting modern upgrades like a flat-screen smart TV.
  • Is there an abstract vinyl graphic on the side? You betcha!
  • Swipe to this part of pre-Internet life in Bring a Trailer, where unreserved auction runs through Monday, January 16.

The mounted cargo-van cohort may be all about #VanLife these days, but before the glorified homeless appeared on the pan, there was the humble convertible. Founded under the same premise—turning a cargo van into something far more livable—these third-party modified vehicles became the basis for many of the older Millennial childhood road trips. Want some good Saturday morning cartoons and Comedy Central playing real standup? This is your chance to come back.

The van started life as a stock 1998 Chevrolet Express cargo van, selling for $24,880 ($45,442 in 2023 dollars). But it made the leap from work vehicle to family-friendly machine thanks to a Rocky Ridge conversion kit, which includes a higher roof, an upfitter staple that came to define late 20th-century convertible van form.

red chevrolet express convertible van interior

Bring Trailers

Open the passenger-side clamshell door—Chevrolet didn’t start selling Express vans with driver-side doors until the 2003 model year—and you can hear Mark Mothersbaugh’s car Rugrats theme through the screen. The 1990s are never lost here. Each very soft throne is wrapped in light beige leather. The rug was roughly the color of ground beef that was past its sale date. Stained wood throughout, um, vibrant.

Somehow, there are still fewer cupholders in this van than in the Subaru Ascent.

red chevrolet express convertible van, view from rear

Bring Trailers|Car and Driver

There are some tasteful 21st century additions too. Whatever tired old stock CRTs have been swapped out for Roku-enabled smart TVs. Standing out from the dashboard is an upgraded Alpine head unit with touchscreen capabilities, while a modern backup camera makes this thing a lot easier to park. That’s good, because you’ll have a hard time finding true abstract vinyl graphics if you start scratching off the panels.

Perhaps the single biggest AV upgrade on this Express is behind the third row, where the wooden enclosure houses not one, but two Sony Xplod subwoofers. If you don’t listen to Brandy and Monica’s “The Boy Is Mine” on repeat, you’re not living.

interior of a chevrolet express convertible van, showing off a pair of aftermarket subwoofers

Car and Driver

Beneath all this wood, metal and leather is one well-preserved powertrain. The front-facing 5.7-liter Vortec V-8 has only 24,000 miles. While it’s unclear how wise the previous owner adhered to the service schedule, the current owner took the van for some work before offering it for sale, spending around $3100 on some replacement parts, including a good Freon refill. Mother Nature’s favourite.

Even for something as left-handed as a convertible Chevrolet Express van, a low-mileage example like this wouldn’t exist for a song. As of this writing, there are six days left on the auction, and it has already fetched $10,250, which is well worth it. But perhaps no price is too high to pretend that Y2K is still worth worrying about.

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