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Old 03-24-2006, 06:24 PM   #1
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New Tow Vehicle Option - Duramax Van

This is likely not late braking news, but I just discovered you can now order Chevrolet (and I assume GMC) 2500 and 3500 vans with the Duramax diesel. With the proper towing equipment either of these vehicles is likely able to tow any model Airstream.

As usual in such situations, there are a couple of catches: First, only the cargo models seem to offer this option. So unless you go spartan, you will have to buy or have made a custom van. Second, it appears not to be available with the Allison transmission, just the "heavy duty" GM four speed. I am guessing the Allison simply does not fit the space available.

Even so, a nice 2500 diesel conversion van might make a good alternative to a Suburban.


'85 Sovereign, 25'
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Old 03-24-2006, 06:33 PM   #2
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hi j54mark...

i've got short legs but big feet....and couldn't get comfortable in the big gm vans...i really tried...
but not enough driver foot space...with the big hump....

and those vans are made in wentzville mo. right......jack?

an e van on the ford side can be had with dualies.....not that's a tow


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Old 03-24-2006, 07:08 PM   #3
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2006 25' Safari SS SE
Northern , Virginia
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Interesting to read Mark’s note. Just this week I visited my Chevy dealer and the GMC dealer to see about upgrading to a ¾ ton van. I’d rather have a passenger van (vs. cargo van, pickup or suburban) to meet my requirement. Both dealers’ computer ordering systems allowed only the ½ ton and 1 ton passenger vans, but not the ¾ ton, and my choice only comes with the 3.73 rear end, but no 4.10 option. They confirmed my internet research results.
I agree that a 2500 diesel conversion should be a good (and maybe cheaper) alternative to the Suburban. My projected towing requirements don’t justify a diesel.
I have a ‘97 conversion van now, but noted that some other conversion vans are loaded down with lots of heavy stuff. That extra weight has to be taken into consideration.
It appears that design and technology has advanced a bit since I last bought one. The ¾ and 1 ton vans with a 6 liter engine & 3.73 gear ration should have not problem pulling my 7300 lb. (if its ever got fully loaded) up/down steep hills and high altitude mountains. I’m thinking of going with a 1 ton passenger van (135” wheel base), minus the back seat.
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Old 03-24-2006, 07:43 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by JStanley
Both dealers’ computer ordering systems allowed only the ½ ton and 1 ton passenger vans, but not the ¾ ton, and my choice only comes with the 3.73 rear end, but no 4.10 option.
I should have noted that oddity as well. For reasons not at all clear, the GM passenger van is available only in either the 1/2 ton or 1 ton, no 3/4. The cargo vans are available in all three weight ratings. Also, there is no 8.1 liter gas engine option available in any configuration. If the 6.0 doesn't move you, your only choice is the diesel.

However, if GM doesn't build what you want you can always drop in the local Ford dealer and check out their diesel van offerings. I assume they still offer one.

'85 Sovereign, 25'
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Old 03-24-2006, 08:10 PM   #5
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Smile duramax van

I took delivery of a new Chevy 3500 cargo van with the Duramax option last month. After 2500 miles, nothing but good vibes! Averaged 21 MPG so far, albeit , not under a "big" load. We use the cargo version for business(hauling pottery and photography) to art fairs and tow the 22" CCD behind. Even though the Duramax is detuned for the van option-250bhp, it has plenty of pulling power. I may add a chip later, don't know yet. It is BIG. We have the extended 155" wheelbase version. The dealer assured me (Ha ha) that the tranny was up to the task. I checked with a couple tranny shops, and they also said if I watched my P's and Q's, I shouldn't have any problems. Also the rebuild on the Chev was only $3000, while the Allison would run about $6000. Soooo, we got a good deal, I like it, It has as many comfort options that were available, and it has a GVCWR of 17000 #s. Off we go.....
Cheers, Jeff
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Old 03-25-2006, 04:53 PM   #6
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Just past a dealer that had a 2500 Duramax cargo van on the lot. Not sure if they have it for the passenger vans, but clearly it was a 2500 Cargo Van and had all the Duramax and 2500 badges on the doors. If this is the case a diesel burb can't be that far off....hopefully.

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