‘Hey stranger, want a ride in my big, white, windowless van?’
What test car is Garry bringing us this week?
We literally have no clue what he’s bringing us until it lands in our driveway, but who are we to doubt Garry Sowerby, who has a bazillion Guinness records for around-the-world driving? That’s a bazillion more than we have, after all. Come along and find out as we drive ’em, dirty ’em and shoot ’em with our phone cams. These are real-life, no-glam reviews.
DIRT ON GARRY
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By JEFF MELNYCHUK
Garry pulls up in what is possibly the most unanonymous anonymous vehicle ever built. A white van with no windows.
We all joke about big, white windowless vans cruising suburban neighborhoods. Get the licence number and call the cops, ASAP. Guess the joke’s on me this time.
“Hey stranger, want a ride in my big, white, windowless, anonymous van?”
He thinks that’s funny. All I can think of is how we’ll spend the next hour scouting a good place to take photos of it without looking too obvious.
“Take your sunglasses off, you look too suspicious,” I say.
“Well, we’re driving a big, white anonymous van with no windows. I don’t think our eyeware could make us look any more suspicious,” Garry says.
Thanks for that.
Doing a creepy drive-by at a construction site in an effort to get a few vehicle pics with an appropriate backdrop, I was pretty sure a couple of workers called the fuzz. Let’s get out of here.
The hollowed shell of the Chevy Express cargo van isn’t for everyone, obviously. With a half dozen support ribs in plain view and no sound deadening, it’s like driving a gutted washing machine that’s being thrashed with a hockey stick.
It’s just frame rails, drivetrain and a steering wheel with a white, anonymous, windowless skin stretched over it all. A V6 engine is standard although this one has a V8. This is also a heavy-duty 2500 model, which means you can’t haul more stuff, just heavier stuff. It’s also rear-wheel-drive and with little in the way of traction aids, it spins the tires about as well as the 1975 GMC Rally STX passenger van my dad owned back in the day. Why change a good thing, eh?
But this “modern” Chevy Express holds a lot more. Honestly, we’re not sure how much more since we don’t have the ’75 Rally STX for a direct comparison, and short of going out and buying a pallet of plywood and a few extension ladders to figure it out, we didn’t really have anything to put in.
So, in what was undoubtedly a stroke of pure genius, we instead elected to contrast the open space by loading in something we can all relate to: a carton of milk. Carefully placed in the back, you can plainly see just how much room there is . . . brilliant. We were pretty sure it would fit and we nailed it on the first attempt.
Our cool and delicious cargo seems a bit too undersized as to warrant eight lug nuts per wheel, though. Seems like overkill for anything that would fit in the back of the Express. Six lug nuts seems like enough with the other two just being more work to change a flat.
That said, it’s styleless, utterly shapeless and primitive-utilitarian to the extreme. It’s a tool box. Or a four-wheeled shipping container. Nothing more.
And it should be completely anonymous. But traveling with Garry, it’s not.
You can follow Garry on Twitter: @DrivenMind99
OK, CAN WE CHAT?
WOW: Holds a lot of whatever. Draws a suspicious crowd. Seriously, this is all a base price of $35K gets you?
HMMM: Clever lack of use of any interior materials makes it look completely unfinished; louder inside than outside, which is difficult to imagine; the reliability of manual window cranks tough to beat . . . 50 years ago; large rear-view mirrors help see if the cops are catching up.
Jeff Melnychuk is Wheelbase Media’s managing editor. He can be reached on the Web at www.wheelbasemedia.com by clicking the contact link. Wheelbase supplies automotive news and features to newspapers across North America.