When it comes to having soft spots for vehicles, the Chevrolet Step Van remains my guilty pleasure. As a kid, I loved my Tonka trucks, which somehow translated to the real thing. Step Vans are the ultimate van, capable of hauling a variety of things. After finding this one, I learned they can also haul ass!
A Little Step Van History
The Step Van was made by Chevrolet from 1940 – 1999, and sold as a delivery vehicle for local businesses. Chevrolet built the forward control chassis, and a handful of outside companies built the van bodies that mounted to the chassis. That same chassis was also used to underpin many Class A motorhomes over the years.
Even though Chevrolet stopped building the Step Van chassis in 1999, the concept continued as local delivery vans used by FedEx and UPS. Yes, the Step Van gave rise to the industry responsible for getting your Amazon goods to your front door.
Perhaps my fondness for these vans stems from the fact I learned to drive a manual transmission on a new Chevrolet P10 (the shorty Step Van model) in 1975. I remember that truck had a straight six cylinder engine, three on the tree shifter and manual steering. There was nothing easy about that truck–special thanks to my dad for the challenge!
Over the years, I’ve toyed with the idea of buying a Step Van and customizing it for football tailgate parties. Storage of such a tall vehicle is a burden, so that idea was put on hold. After learning about Rutledge Wood’s van below, I may need to reconsider!
Rutledge Wood 1949 Kurbmaster
The menacing looking truck above was built by Rutledge Wood about ten years ago. Rutledge Wood is an auto racing analyst and TV show host. He was one of three hosts for History’s Top Gear along with Adam Ferrara and Tanner Foust, and was one of the hosts for NASCAR Trackside. He is a car guy of the first order, and has a penchant for buying and building oddball vehicles. My kind of guy!
His Kurbmaster Step Van was a special build. The key highlights of this special van, along with a video are shown below:
- Aluminum body 1949 Kurbmaster on 1999 Chevy 2500 pickup frame shortened to fit body.
- Chevy Performance LS3 crate engine (525hp–much more than the 115 hp version I drove).
- Custom built 4L80E transmission
- Ridetech Air Ride suspension
- Vintage Air (air conditioning)
- Custom Magnaflow exhaust
- Recaro front seats and Dodge Sprinter van rear seat
- Custom 20″ three-piece Asanti wheels (8 lug disc brakes at all 4 corners), fresh set of Continental tires.
Final Thoughts and Questions
The stance of Rutledge’s van is perfect, and that 525 hp engine would really make it scoot! I understand the van was sold about seven years ago for $65k. Based on the amount of work done to it, I can see why.
I’m still pondering what my next project vehicle might be. Does this put the Step Van back into consideration? Let me know your thoughts. Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, or message me through the Vehicle Nanny Instagram or Facebook pages.
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