GMC Conversion Van Test Tow
I've benefited many times from the experiences shared here on the forums, so I want to return the favor.
I'm needing to replace my TV, a 1999 Mercedes 320. Yes, I would not recommend towing an AS with this vehicle but it has done well enough despite being undersized and underpowered.
We have six people - soon four teenagers - in our family and so we need a TV that can comfortably seat 6 and tow our 22ft 64 Safari. The Safari has a listed weight at around 3,500 but I would guest that loaded it's closer to 4,000.
I don't have alot of money so I've been looking at Craiglist offerings. I found a 1994 GMC G1500 Savana conversion van that I'd hoped fit the bill. It was in very good condition, well-maintained. High miles but strong engine. A V-8 but only the 305 version. The towing capacity is listed at 7,000 pounds. As others have indicated, the conversion adds ALOT of weight so the practical pulling capability is pretty low.
The owner was kind enough to let me test the van's capabilities in pulling our AS.
In summary, this particular vehicle is NOT a good choice for pulling a AS of this weight.
It is underpowered. Yes I was able to maneuver the trailer around and it was fine starting off, but the engine lacks the power to get the rig up to an acceptable highway speed. My cruising speed never got beyond 60 mph and getting there required pretty much flooring it.
The size of the van was fine, I could see where a larger engine would be acceptable.
The bumper of this van was particularly low as well, the hitch was only about 14 inches off the ground and then loaded (I don't have a balancing hitch yet) dropped three inches. Yes, helper springs or a airbag system would have helped.
Bottom line, a GMC conversion van with a 305 engine is NOT a good TV, IMO.
The search continues...