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Thread: Backstory - Transition to Gen 1 in 64?

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    Backstory - Transition to Gen 1 in 64?

    OK historians, your time to shine.

    As a newbie to the Chevy/GMC family (all my past experience has been with Ford), what is the story on the transition to Gen 1 in 64?

    It appears, based on little more than my initial observations, that the Gen 1 got caught in an odd, off year, model introduction “vortex”. As I remember, and I’ll admit it has been more than a few years, the Big 3 would roll out new model years in late summer of the previous year (for example, 1964 models were rolled out in late summer 63). That seems not to be the case with the “Gen 1” which looks to have rolled out sometime in 1964 - with the Corvair still on, or being taken off, the market.

    Exactly what happened?

    Also seems a tad odd that the van is not represented/supported with its own shop manual - which makes picking through the truck manual for what exactly applies far less than efficient. I can’t but wondering sometimes if the van was an initial afterthought that was birthed from the parts bin - a little Corvair, a little truck, a little Chevelle, and then just enough Gen 1 van specific to make things “interesting” and sometimes way difficult as we attempt to rebuild these old dogs back to new life.

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    VCVC Member SAVAGE's Avatar
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    I "Think" GM was trying to take some of the sales of vans away from Ford & Dodge.
    The Corvair Van wasn't filling the needs, size & payloads??
    Then Mid year 65 they changed front Grill for a bigger one((Better cooling)& offered bigger motors
    GM also at some point(late 64 early 65) took the Ton of cast Iron out above the gas tank. (to keep back end on ground on hard stops??)
    My 64 Nodoor has it, my 64 Custom doesn't, I don't think any of my the 65 do??
    Sure more people got more Info. And Yes Gm used a Lot of leftover parts on the Vans .
    Also had a lot of only van parts, or 1 year only parts(67)
    Hope this helps some.
    Last edited by SAVAGE; 05-28-2020 at 02:47 PM.
    Tom

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    Administrator smiley's Avatar
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    GM was originally chasing the success of the VW bus, hence the air-cooled rear-engine Corvair. That van debuted in 61, the same year as the Ford. As I understand it, GM immediately began work on a design to compete directly with the Fords more utility-based van. I think the initial success of the Econoline caught them flat-footed.

    The 1st and 2nd gen vans never had their own, dedicated manual. Each production year, including 1964, offered a van supplement (the 1964 supplement was recently posted for download). The Fords also sourced some core parts from other models. I think it just made tooling the initial models faster, since the new model competition was fast and fierce.

    I dont think the G-series was an afterthought. In fact, with the lag time, My guess is that since the Corvair was already out there to hold a place in the market, GM took its time developing a van to compete.
    1966 Chevy Display, "Southern Belle"
    1968 Chevy, "Blue Overdose"

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    VCVC Member lvjjj's Avatar
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    When I bought my one and only early in 1970 it was sitting at the end of a row of Ford vans, a delieverly company in Seattle had traded their Chevy and Ford vans into a Seattle Chevy dealer for all new Chevys. As I looked at the Fords, they seemed to be built real cheap to me with stamped dash board etc., just seemed flimsy and not well built. The Chevy was a lot more substantial and of course that's the one I bought., got the last one, still have the last one.
    LARRY OF THE PACIFIC NW
    1965, 292, TH350
    purchased Nov. 22, 1970

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    Certifiable Vanatic
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    Quote Originally Posted by smiley View Post
    GM took its time developing a van to compete.
    And it shows, hands down the best looking of the three!!

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    Corvans had awesome coachwork and a low-slung 4 wheel independent suspension, BUT, They didn't compare well to the volkswagen, as they looked overweight, clumsy, clunky and kinda less than beautiful.....They also didn't compete with the Econoline in cubes of cargo space or truck-like mechanical simplicity.....
    Both Chevy and Dodge copied the Econoline almost identically in layout, suspension, power, and even wheelbase......They were utility vehicles not meant for comfort and easily characterized as unfinished.....All three makes were awesome as future blank canvases for future custom vehicles.... I'm a Chevy guy, so the Chevy/GMC has always been my choice!....

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