Chevrolet G20 Origins
For many years, the Chevrolet G20 was the standard for American-made vans. It was a popular family vehicle prior to the popularization of minivans and SUVs. It was also popular as a work vehicle in industries like plumbing and contracting. Even years after its production ceased, the G20 remained a mainstay of many contractors’ vehicle fleets, a testament to the model’s reliability. The G20 was one van model in the GMC G series, which was in production from 1964 to 1996.About the Chevrolet G20
The G20 was the original of the American classic vans. Models from the series are well known for appearances in television shows, most notably as the van in “The A-Team” and in a cartoon rendition as Scooby Doo’s “Mystery Van.” Despite these moments of fame, the van is truly best known as a convenient utility vehicle with plenty of room to carry a family or tools of the trade.
Starting with the 1964 Chevrolet G20, most production years included some updates to the line’s body and engine through 1996 when the G-series was discontinued. While each year’s model varied somewhat in style and power, the most significant change in the van came in 1971 when its characteristic flat front was replaced with a protruding grill. The new grill provided the advantage of making the engine more easily accessible. Other names for the van over its years of production included the Chevrolet Sportvan, GMC Handi-Van, and, later, the Beauville, Sport Van, Rally Wagon, and Vandura.Chevrolet G20 Evolution
The original 1964 model replaced the earlier Chevrolet Corvair. It was considered the original flat-windshield van. The 1964 model had a 90 to 120-horsepower four-cylinder engine, featured a boxy design, and was available with or without rear windows. The basic model was indeed very basic in terms of amenities. Even heat and a front passenger seat were optional. Though models were made for use by families, contractors quickly found the usefulness of these vans for professional activities.
The second generation of the G-series was built from 1967 to 1970. There were a number of changes during this time, most notably the addition of lower rear and front lights as well as more windows. The model still, however, retained its boxy look. None of these early versions was available with power steering or modern air conditioning. The 1970 model was the last to feature a flat front.
This generation was available from 1971 to the last year of the G series in 1996. Still full-size vans, these models were much bigger and much more powerful than their earlier-generation siblings. Though still primarily used on the job, they became increasingly popular as family vehicles, and several models included campers and other features that made them a good vacation vehicle.
Some of the engines available during this time included 4.1 or 4.3-liter V-6 engines, five, 5.7, or 7.4-liter V-8 engines, and 6.2 or 6.5-liter diesel engines. Transmissions available included a three-speed automatic and a four-speed automatic or manual.Modern Chevrolet G20s
The last year of this van’s long-lived history marked a look back in exterior styling to the original G20 models. However, an upgraded interior made the 1996 G20 better suited for the family than for work. Due in part to the rising popularity of the SUV and the continued popularity of the minivan, the G series was discontinued. Chevrolet reportedly briefly considered producing electric and hybrid concept vans, but fuel economy and safety concerns discouraged production and no version was ever released.