RIP: 2025 Is Last Year For Gas Powered GM Shaggin’ Wagons

May we have a moment of silence, please? Come 2025, the last of the old-school full-size vans will be going to the great boneyard in the sky. GM’s Express and Savana, largely unchanged from their last refresh in 2003, will join the Ford Econoline, Dodge Tradesman, Corvair Greenbriar, Chevy Astro, and Ford Aerostar vans as footnotes in the pantheon of automotive history.

Let’s just say, if this van is rockin’, don’t bother knockin’.

Detroit’s response to the VW Bus in the mid-sixties ignited a boom of pop culture and folklore that is still going strong today. The custom van craze of the Seventies is the stuff of legend with “Sin bins” and “Shaggin’ wagons” seemingly on every corner.

Sammy Johns even had a big hit called “Chevy Van” that told the story of a summertime romp with a barefoot gal who “climbed in and took control.” Hollywood responded with a myriad of teen movies with custom vans sharing the spotlight with stars of the day. Today, there are legions of folks that rescue long-forgotten custom vans and it has become one of the hottest segments in the collector car hobby. Chevy Astros and Express Vans are red-hot in Japan as well.

Tokyo Astro

The current GM models will be the last of the traditional Detroit vans. Ford and Stellantis debuted models from their European subsidiaries and killed their domestically designed versions years ago. These “Dustbuster” vans are bigger, come in different roof heights and they have taken the RV industry by storm, but it’s just not the same. No one will ever write a song about the homely RAM Promaster, sorry.

Think of a shrunken version of the commercial Brightdrop van as a template of what’s coming from the General.

The design of the replacements for the GM Express and Savannah have been teased by GM’s Ultium-based Brightdrop Van that has started to see duty with Fed Ex. Yes, they are electric, so brace yourself for that, but they’re better looking than the current crop of Eurovans, and the possibilities for RV conversion are probably endless.

Here’s the good news for us old-school fans. There are three more model years to grab a new GM Express or Savana. They can be ordered with a 189hp 2.8L Duramax Turbo-Diesel four-cylinder with 369 lb-ft of torque or get this, a 401hp, LT-based, 6.6-liter V8 engine with 464 lb-ft of twist. Yup, these are true hot rod vans that distill decades of development and culture into a modern package with dual airbags, navigation, and ABS. Get ’em while you can!  Go here to build yours.

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About the author

Dave Cruikshank

Dave Cruikshank is a lifelong car enthusiast and an Editor at Power Automedia. A zealous car geek since birth, he digs lead sleds, curvy fiberglass, kustoms and street rods. He currently owns a '95 Corvette, '76 Cadillac Seville, '99 LS1 Trans Am and big old Ford Van.
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