Ready To Play: 1977 GMC VanDura 4×4

1977 GMC VanDura 4x4

The seller has already done good job hyping up their four-wheel-drive VanDura, but I thought it still deserved a mention here. A 350 crate engine has replaced the original and someone has done a lot of work to make it look nice. Supposedly, it was rust free and only resprayed because the paint was dry. Polished up factory paint would have been my preference, but it’s too late for that. Anyway, this looks like a nice rig for fun or play. I’m not really sure what I’d do with it, but I bet you guys can come up with some creative uses. It’s located in Ventura, California and is listed here on eBay where bidding has really taken off!

VanDura Interior

Things look really nice in here, except for those seats… They show this van’s age and really deserve some new covers. Red or black vinyl would look fine, but hopefully the next owner can replicated that plaid pattern!

350 Crate engine

The seller doesn’t mention when or why the engine was replaced, but this thing did come from the factory with a 350. The odometer shows 69k, but there’s no telling if that’s accurate. The powertrain fitted to this truck is tough though and replacement parts are easy to come by.

Pathfinder Four Wheel Drive

The biggest draw here though is the Pathfinder 4×4 system. You can direct the power to the back wheels for summer and highway driving and then kick it into 4-high in the winter. The best part though is that you have 4-low for the terrain turns really rough during those back-country adventures!

Clean Floor

The floor is solid and doesn’t even look scratched so hopefully the next owner takes good care of it. There are a ton of possible routes they could take with this van. They could use it as a work vehicle, but that doesn’t seem like much fun. How about a motorcycle hauler for trips to the dunes? Or a compact high-mountain camper? The possibilities are limitless! Now, if only my credit card limits were the same…

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Comments

  1. Howard A Member

    Hmm, never heard of Pathfinder. I thought all 4 wheel drives were “in house” by 1977, but apparently, one site sez, no van from the big 3 ever left the factory with a 4×4 setup. There were several companies that would do a conversion, Pathfinder being one. I suppose the 4×4 is the big selling point here, as I have a friend with a 2 wheel drive van like this, and it is the biggest POS ever. It will get stuck going downhill, gets awful mileage, impossible to work on, uncomfortable to ride in, just a bad truck. Why someone in L.A. needs a 4×4 like this, I’ll never know.

    • Dave Wright

      Have you ever heard of the Hollywood Hills?”…………………We used 4X4 every day pulling boats out of steep slippery boat ramps in Southern California.

      • Howard A Member

        Hi Dave, yes, I have. My kids live in L.A. Pulling boats out of a slippery boat ramp is one thing, but until you’ve experienced a nasty Mid-west blizzard, where literally, lives are at stake, and 4 wheel drives could mean the difference between life or death, it’s not quite the same thing. Don’t ask us why we live here. I guess because our folks settled here. :)

        Like 1
      • Dave Wright

        I owned truck companies for 20 years here in the west…..have seen most every kind of weather conditions on the highway. My ranch is near Mcall Idaho. Winter is no stranger to me. We always used to laugh at the eastern truckers that would come west on occasion, no Jake brakes and small power. They would panic on a 6% grade we operated on every day year around. The wind in the winter near Salt Lake used to blow trains onto there side and Wyoming could be worse.

    • Doug Weaver

      Needs? What about simply wanting a 4X4?

      The wants and or needs of others are private unless you are footing the bill…..

  2. boxdin

    Pathfinder was close to the first converter starting around 1974. There were early ford pathfinders in 1974 but by 1977 they were converting all ford, chevy, and dodge. There were factory chevy 4×4 for a short time using a V Drive split transfer case (google chevy van v drive).
    As far as working on them I find when the doghouse (motor box cover) is removed access to everything is pretty good. As far as comfort without a nice interior you’re right, but making the inside nice is a big part of the fun of a van. Why have a van w no interior?
    Oh, and if you park any old chevy van on enough of an incline you will not be able to close the sliding door just coz the unibody twists so much. Full frame Fords make much better 4×4 vans. You can close the sliding door on an incline!

    • Dave Wright

      Great photo showing exactly how the split V worked. The van did not have to be as high as with conventional straight axle systems. Wheel alignment was an adventure.

      • Dave Wright

        My dad used to maintain several fleets at his shop in Spokane. One company had 20 or so vans with a couple of these to use in bad weather. Dad hated them. Complicated, lots of maintenance required and impossible to keep aligned. Still, an interesting piece of engineering.

    • Howard A Member

      Thx, boxdin, while researching the “Pathfinder” thing, one of the forums mentioned the twin output shaft transfer case and dual pumpkins. Talk about doing the same thing a different way. I wonder how that worked? Looks like a lot of hardware spinning there. I tell ya’, I learn something new all the time with this site.

    • John H

      The V Drive system was also used on Ford vans (all aftermarket). VEMCO was the company doing the conversions. It’s kind of surprising that the only way to get a 4-wheel-drive van in the 1970s was aftermarket, when 4WD pickups were becoming much more common and popular.

  3. Blindmarc

    Glamis sand dunes, with a couple of dirt bikes in the back…..saying “L.A.” covers a lot of area.

  4. Matt

    This sold for 5 grand a little over a year ago. Immediately flipped on eBay for 7k. Put on eBay last month for 9k dropped to 8500. Bought by this dealer and marked up 50%. Capitalism.

    • Rspcharger Rspcharger

      Nice research, saves me the effort :)

  5. MH

    Wow that is awesome. It would be my daily driver for sure.

  6. Chebby

    “unmolested inside” is an amazing phrase to use in the marketing of a windowless van…

  7. Drew V

    When I was a senior in High School (1981) the local Chevy dealer had a matching set of GBX 4×4 step side truck and van… Both sitting high with 35″ tires and wild paint and stripe kits… A girl I knew bought the truck but the van sat in the show room for a year or better… That was the first 4×4 van I remember seeing…

  8. gregg

    Love this thing!

  9. Ron kegley

    I know the A-team van was not a 4×4..but, I think I would like to see it with that paint scheme ..

  10. JW

    Had a few Ford & Chevy vans like this running around our town in the 80’s. To be different I almost bought one to just cut the back top panels off and weld a back half of a pickup cab to it with bed rails and tailgate to make a update cab forward 4×4 pickup truck.

  11. Skip

    I love the VanDuras! I have a ’74 VanDura that was converted into a Type II ambulance. I bought it in 2002 when I re-established my standby ambulance service. I bought it from an ambulance dealer, and it only had 59K actual miles on it. It had belonged to the small town of Talgoa, OK; and I understand that it only made the relatively-short runs into OKC. The only downside about this van was the shoddy ambulance conversion. The company who built it, then known as Tulsa Custom Coach, was well known for the lack of work they did on their conversions. But it was a good-running little van, so we got some good service out of it. I still have it, just haven’t used it in quite some time.

  12. boxdin

    That van in Louisville comes with a wench. I wonder what she looks like?

  13. BarryP

    I have a 1990 vandura conversion van and often thought about making it into a 4×4 . I live just outside Montreal up here in Canada and am used to winter driving. My van has never been winter driven but I thought it would be fun to convert it to four wheel drive anyway. It is very comfortable with the luxury interior and the captains chairs and has the 350 in it.

  14. MikeK

    A friend in high school had one of these, all blacked out w/ a custom interior. He had the hardest time getting dates for some reason.

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