A NEW 4X4 VAN?
Only your wallet can answer that question.... Everyone loves a new van, but can you afford one is the question. If you have the extra scratch, say between $34,000.00 to $55,000.00 (depending on how you want it equipped), maybe a new ride is for you. Typically, you can add about $12,395.00 (at last check) and up to the price of a new van to have a 4X4 system included when ordering your new van.
All 2 wheel drive vans... Ford, Chevy, and Nissan are converted by Quigley Motor Company, based in Manchester, PA with full off-road capability. The difference with the Quigley 4x4 conversion is they have been building 4x4 vans since the "mid 70s" and pay close attention to detail. Quigley 4x4 van conversions are fully warrantied by the auto manufacturer and only available through authorized dealers. They can also be ordered direct from Quigley, phone 800-233-9358 or at their web site: www.quigley4x4.com. If ordered thru Quigley, the vans delivery MUST still take place through an authorized dealership.
Ford van conversions incorporates a vast majority of Ford components, including the F-350 front drive-steer axle and transfer case (New Venture 2-Speed), into their conversion for ease of service. Lock out hubs, front shocks, brake pads, brake calipers and rotors are also from the Ford F-Series. With the F-Series brake calipers and rotors we are required to change the E-Series 16” tires and wheels to the F-Series 17” tires and wheels for clearance. All of these components are purchased new, direct from Ford. The pitman arm, torque arms, track bar and various mounting brackets are Quigley engineered and designed in accordance with the SAE specifications.
Quigley’s GM van conversions use the Trailmaker system which consists of a 4100/4600 lb rated IFS system with GM's front axle disconnect(no hub locks), independent differential, 4 wheel anti lock brakes, GM 2 speed transfer case, 4x4 shift lever indicator light and maintains the original factory fuel capacity. The trailmaker consists of 95% GM parts for ease of service at any service facility.
Quigley’s Nissan van conversions Independent Front Suspension 4x4 system standard features include: coil over shock independent front suspension (IFS) with front axle disconnect (no lock-out hubs), American Axle / Quigley 9.25” independent differential, Quigley hub & bearing assembly, 4 wheel anti-lock brakes, Magna / Quigley single-speed transfer case (2WD and 4WD position), 4x4 indicator light with a manual shift lever.
Quigley's conversions are remarkably supple, squeak and rattle free. The frame rails themselves are reinforced and an extra tubular beam is mounted ahead of the axle which ties the front frame horns together for extra rigidity.
Going where no RV has gone before... totally self-contained 4WD RVs
Specializing in converting full-size vans into custom recreational vehicles, Sportsmobile turns your base people hauler into a rugged, rock-luvin’ beast. For approximately $70,000-$80,000 you can buy a Ford, Chevy, Nissan, ProMaster Dodge or Mercedes-Benz Sprinter and have it converted into arguably the most powerful and versatile RV around. Here is a good article by GEAR PATROL explaining the SportsMobile mini RV build.
So if bucks aren't a problem, than a NEW 4x4 van might just be your ticket to your on and off-road fun.
HOW ABOUT A USED 4X4 VAN:
But if your like most of us, you will have to search around to find a good used 4x4 van. Some of the used vans out there are total junk, while others, like in any used vehicle, have been maintained and kept in tip top shape. Each 4x4 van needs to be inspected and judged on it's own merits and condition. If you don't have the skill to do this yourself, ask the current owner if you can have a reliable mechanic check out the van. If he refuses to allow an inspection, just walk away.
Once you find a van with the right equipment, be sure to test driven it on and off road (very important). Take it up to highway driving speeds and check to make sure it doesn't wonder around. Then drive it off-road using both 4 wheel high and 4 wheel low to verify the transfer case and drive train are in good working condition.
If all the equipment works, its drives and handles good, and the price is acceptable, then you just might have found a good van. If your not sure exactly what all of this means, but still want a 4x4 van, than ask a friend or hire a mechanic to test drive the van for you.
There are several good shops that perform 4x4 van conversions. Check out my "4X4 VAN CONVERTERS WEB PAGE" for a current list and their contact info.
Be ready to dish out $10,000.00 to $14,000.00 to have a "professional 4x4 conversion shop" convert your van to 4WD, depending on the amount of lift and the type of aftermarket 4x4 equipment you want installed on your van. It might be a good idea to piece mill the conversion process if your bucks are a little tight. Once the 4x4 conversion is completed, you can later add the custom accessories, modify the suspension components, and add larger tires/wheels.
I can do some of the work myself, where do I start?
Gather a tape measure, note book and sharp pencil. Measure twice and cut once, very good words to customize by. For more info on axle swaps, check out this site... "Tech How-To Articles & Resources". Do a little web surfing, ask around and you will find a lot of good info to cover every aspect of converting your van to a 4x4.
(If you know of more, pass them along so I can list them here)
Yes there are! For that lifted look and off-road clearance without the expense of adding a transfer case and front axle, you can build what is know as a "Pre-Runner" van. This type of van has the look and clearance of a 4x4 van, but less expensive. One important area to consider when building a pre-runner is to install a locker at the rear axle. Vans with a positrac/locker rear end can navigate most off-road conditions very easily. Here is a good article on lockers: Installing Your Own Locker.
Having an on board winch or high lift jack is almost a must worth installing if your gonna do a pre-runner van build. I use a portable Warn winch which is mounted on a steel plate that has a 2" receiver connection. When not in use, it sits in my garage. When I go off-roadn', I just load it into my van along with a spare charged 12-V battery for rear snatchin' and if needed, I can install the winch to the front or rear of my van. A nice option to have depending on your location when you get stuck. Also, your winch stays in clean primo condition between uses.
This type of conversion usually consists of either bent I beams, custom fabricated radius arms, body or suspension lift, and longer/stiffer shocks. You can also install a set of air bags to help compensate for heavier load's and/or to limit body role/bounce. In the rear you could add a new taller spring set, blocks or an Add-a-Leaf to your stock springs. If this is too much for your skill level, you could have Camburg Engineering Inc. do the work for you. Check out their web site for current pricing. Here is one of their awesome rides.
If your lifting a Astro or Safari van, check out the Overland Vans body and suspension lift kits.
Most vanners will also add a front heavy duty sway bar, steering stabilizer, some off-road lights, light bar and maybe a Con-Ferr roof rack to carry all their stuff. Once all the lifting is completed, you may have to modify your stock drive shaft or steering column to handle the additional lift.
Now it's time to fit those off-road tires and wider wheels. Make sure you checked for COMPLETE clearance at ALL 4 wheel wells before hitting the road. This is usually accomplished by having a couple guys jump on the bumper while someone turns the steering wheel all the way from left to right. While the steering wheel is being turned, a 4th person will check for proper tire clearance to the body panels on each bounce. If any rubbing is found, you will have to trim the fenders like I had to do on Big Red to get the extra clearance needed to drive safely.
About this ride: "Common Problem" - The front tires eat the fenders.
The front lift was built and installed by Camburg Engineering, they bent the I-beams and made the radius arms. This customer wanted the suspension moved forward, so first we added new brackets. Next we rebent the I-beams, added custom fabricated radius arms, installed 8" Fabtech coils and 7100 Bilstein's shocks which have sperate reservoirs. In the rear we put on new springs with the factory block as well as the Bilstein block. We custom fabbed a rear tire carrier as well as the front bar with lights. That's one of our Con-Ferr roof racks. We are putting air bags on it now to compensate for some heavy load's. The customer took the van to Mexico and was very satisfied with the additional ride clearance.