A reader sends:
I acquired a late 00’s GM 2500 van. It’s a plain work van, white of course, bare inside, plastic floors, front bucket seats. Nothing fancy then, but that’s OK. The body, it’s a little rough, not horrible but not great. The good part is it has a 4.8 liter V8, heavy duty 4L80E transmission, 4 wheel vented disc brakes, 8 lug hubs, heavy duty wheels and rear end. Low mileage, under 100K and oh so cheap. I wanted a similar year Suburban but it’s 10x the money vs van. Plans include adding a bench or a couple buckets for a couple of passengers. Exterior wise I plan to leave it stealth, plain white work van, mostly anyway. I’d like to eventually add a basket, chain the spare to the roof and eliminate the janky spare tire hoist in the back. Someday add more knobby tires on the rear, a brush guard and a winch. It’s not 4wd but that would at least improve fire road/Jeep trail capabilities for cheap compared to a 4wd conversion or buying a different vehicle. First order of business is a trans flush and filter and change out the rear diff fluid. I’ll probably go with stock Dexron VI on the trans and Mobil or Royal Purple on the rear diff. IDK if it’s a limited slip or not, if it’s LSD you have to get the correct oil and possibly an additive or it’ll burn up. We want the ability to travel long distance, carry all our gear and also be able to use our vehicle for shelter. I chose the GMC/Chevrolet platform specifically because of the engine. The Gen 3 small block debuted in 1997 in 5.7l trim in the Corvette. This all aluminum motor was a total departure from all previous small block chevys from 1955-1996. It has since been produced in everything from the 4.8, 5.3, 5.7, 6.0, 6.2 and 7.0. There’s probably even more I’m missing. The motors are known as LS motors and the aftermarket and versatility of these new motors blow Away everything else in my opinion. The most powerful stock variant is the supercharged Corvette ZR1 variant with an earth shaking 750BHP. I sure could slam one into a work van were I so inclined. There’s a hilarious yet serious YouTube of some guys who dirt cheap slammed a 500HP turbocharged LS in a 76 Winnebago. I find the LS to be one of the easiest engines to work on. They are simple and compact so there’s plenty of room to get to most things. They are so popular that there are conversions from fuel injection to a good ol Holley 4 barrel carb. Problem areas are few, early engines with cylinder deactivation had big problems requiring a complete top end rebuild and elimination of the cylinder deactivation. Exhaust manifolds eventually crack. The rear oil pan and seal may start weeping oil. Water pumps are easy on the LS. Really that’s about it, aside from GM shitty QC and crap Delphi electrics. Parts are cheap, available everywhere from the usual suspects like AutoZone, Oreilly and any GM dealer.
Contributions/lessons learned welcome.