• This conversion van is pure 1990s vibes, with a few tasteful modern upgrades like a flat-screen smart TV.
  • Are there abstract vinyl graphics on the side? You betcha!
  • Slide into this slice of pre-internet life on Bring a Trailer, where the no-reserve auction runs until Monday, January 16.

The upfitted-cargo-van cohort might be all about #VanLife these days, but before glorified homelessness flashed in the pan, there was the humble conversion van. Established under the same premise—turning a cargo van into something much more livable—these third-party-modified vehicles formed the basis for many an elder Millennial’s childhood road trips. Pining for a time when Saturday morning cartoons were good and Comedy Central played actual standup? Here’s your chance to go back.

This van started life as a stock 1998 Chevrolet Express cargo van, retailing for $24,880 ($45,442 in 2023 dollars). But it made the jump from work vehicle to family-friendly machine courtesy of a Rocky Ridge conversion kit, which included a higher roof, an upfitter staple that came to define the shape of late-20th-century conversion vans.

a red chevrolet express conversion van's interior

Open the passenger-side clamshell doors­—Chevrolet didn’t start selling Express vans with a driver-side door until the 2003 model year—and you can practically hear Mark Mothersbaugh’s Rugrats theme through the screen. The 1990s never went away in here. Every extremely well-padded throne is wrapped in the beigest of beige leather. The carpet is roughly the color of ground beef that’s past its sell-by date. The stained wood throughout is, um, vibrant.

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

a red chevrolet express conversion van, shown from the rear

There have been a few tasteful 21st-century additions as well. Whatever tired old CRT came stock has been swapped out in favor of a Roku-enabled smart TV. Jutting out from the dashboard is an upgraded Alpine head unit with touchscreen capability, while a modern backup camera should make this thing a heck of a lot easier to park. Which is good, because you’ll have a hard time finding period-correct abstract vinyl graphics if you start scuffing the panels.

Perhaps the single greatest AV upgrade in this Express resides behind the third row, where a wooden enclosure houses not one, but two Sony Xplod subwoofers. If you are not listening to Brandy and Monica’s “The Boy Is Mine” on repeat, you’re not living.

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

Under all this wood, metal, and leather is one properly preserved powertrain. The 5.7-liter Vortec V-8 residing up front has just 24,000 miles on it. While it’s unclear how judiciously the previous owner followed service schedules, the current owner did take the van in for some work before offering it for sale, spending about $3100 on a smattering of replacement parts, including a good ol’ Freon recharge. Mother Nature’s favorite.

Even for something as left-field as a Chevrolet Express conversion van, a low-mileage example like this won’t be had for a song. As of this writing, there are six days left on the auction, and it’s already commanding $10,250, which is dear for what it is. But perhaps no price is too high to pretend Y2K is still a thing worth worrying about.

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