This interior is unlike anything you are used to in cars at all. When you first get here, everyone will gasp - the owner of the fabulously expensive Rolls-Royce, the inhabitant of the "mobile office" based on the Mercedes-Benz V-class, and even an experienced traveler accustomed to camper vans in the style of Japanese mini-sized apartments. Because everything is different here.
Throw open the large double-leaf door - and your gaze is not a salon, but a room furnished with furniture and finished with materials that are simply not found in the automotive industry. Soft, almost plush fabric, accordion-blinds on the windows - and real carpets on the floor, on which you want to walk only barefoot. Wood veneer? It's boring, let's better cut the old grandmother's wardrobe and just like that - with unvarnished bars and boards - we go around everything that our hand can reach!
And the seats? In them, you just fall, as if into a cloud, and instantly forget about all the problems: there must be something like this in the offices of psychoanalysts. The furnishings are perhaps even more homely than in other houses, but the functionality has not been forgotten either - the second-row chairs rotate around their axis, and literally in every free place some kind of box with a cover made of the same wood is organized.
But the main feature is the third row. The control panel says so: power sofa, that is, an electric sofa. Folding. We press the button and after a few seconds we get a wide, softest bed in half of the "room", next to which - in one of the rear doors - there is also a mini-bar. What else is needed for happiness?
Moreover, what is marvelous to the Russian, to the American is a familiar way of life. Such cars were and are being built in the United States in thousands of copies, and traditional automakers have nothing to do with them: third-party ateliers are engaged in the transformation of utility vans into living rooms on wheels. Our copy was built by the most respected office in its field called Starcraft - by the way, leading history as far back as 1903.
And the "source" itself, which on Moscow roads attracts eyes worse than supercars, in its homeland - that our "Gazelle". It is simply called the Chevy Van, and it was in this generation that it lived almost unchanged for a quarter of a century, from 1971 to 1996. By the way, his successor, Chevrolet Express, has just repeated the achievement, that is, two cars account for 50 years of history!
The car in these photos is one of the later, born in 1995, and if you have a logical question about the GMC nameplate on the grille, we hasten to answer it. This is not a nameplate, but the entire front end is borrowed from the GMC Vandura model of a slightly earlier series: so the previous owner decided for the sake of better headlights and design, sending hello to the van from the cult series "Team A". Although in essence Vandura and Chevy Van are twin brothers.
And we must remember that despite the luxurious filling, daring body kit and other goodies, this is primarily a utilitarian minibus. Take at least a driver's seat: that little that the hands of the Starcraft masters did not reach, looks and feels frankly bad - poor plastic, curved assembly and very strange ergonomics. How do you, for example, a pedal assembly designed for "one-legged people"?
I'm not kidding, there is so little space left between the huge engine cover and the left wheel arch that there is simply nowhere to put your left foot there. The only viable option is to squeeze it towards you, throw it under the right shin, and so crosswise and go. Although the owner of this specimen says that such a pose does not bother him even on long journeys, and indeed his entire extended family tolerates them without any problems.
This is understandable: despite the dimensions and aerodynamics of the utility unit, the Chevy Van is quite quiet even at highway speeds, and the typical American buildup here has the most correct character - pacifying, but by no means leading to seasickness. Sharp irregularities quite clearly penetrate the interior, but rather not with blows as such, but with sound: the body is carrying it here, and everything resonates in such a huge space, be healthy.
Yes, yes, this bus is not a frame bus, as you might think. Although the suspensions, for example, are very close to the classic Chevrolet C / K pickups: at the rear there is a continuous axle and leaf springs, at the front there is a double wishbone and springs. Controllability ... adequate. A long "steering wheel" without any feedback needs to be turned at absolutely bus corners, and in response the Chevy Van takes a theatrical pause every time, after which it shamelessly lies on its side. No, if you wish, you can go through some kind of turn at normal speed, but inside the cabin there will be a real mess of passengers and their belongings. And even earlier, the driver will simply slip out of his soft seat: why do home furniture need lateral support?
On a straight line, however, it is not worth dashing too. If up to 100-120 km / h the bus is calm and monolithic, like a locomotive, then closer to 150, directional stability begins to dissolve, and a sharp gust of wind - for example, when driving with a truck - can move the car almost to the next lane. Because even a weight of 2.5 tons is not able to compensate for the huge windage of the body: in the side projection there are more than 10 square meters.
But if you think that driving this van is a priori stupid occupation, you are simply not familiar with its engine. The standard 5.7-liter V8 has been thoroughly modified here, and the power is noticeably higher than the factory 190 forces. Push the throttle a little more, and the Chevy jumps forward with agility that you simply can't expect from its size and weight. Yes, the speedometer needle runs along the scale not so much like a sports car, but the dynamics is more than convincing also because it is enhanced by the entourage: a high seating position, asphalt running away right under your feet and the rolling roar of an engine located actually in the cabin.
Yes, this is a classic muscle car, just in a different body. Everything is according to the canons: inexhaustible charisma, brutal sound, emotional acceleration - and the corresponding appetite. At cruising 110 km / h, this big guy uses about 14 liters per hundred, but the owner does not bother with such an expense. Indeed, if there is gasoline in the blood, then it is not a pity for the engine.