It happened! Christmas came! Heaven opened and delivered unto me.... new metal husband!! I bought this 20' long, 1993 GMC Grumman Olsen P-35 Step-Van on December 22nd. My wonderful and patient roommate Sarai went with me on Sunday to check it out in the middle of nowhere (Amelia Courthouse, VA), and then my new best friend Sam Rugg of Barefoot Puppets went back with me on Tuesday to seal the deal and drive it back to Richmond. 

Pardon my french, but I have been talking so much shit about this for so long, it feels AWESOME to take the first real, really real, really really real step towards making it happen. 

Driving my new husband home was the first time I'd driven a vehicle like this more than about a mile. I'd test driven a couple of vehicles, and tested this one on the country road outside the seller's house. It took about an hour to get back to my mechanic in Richmond, which was initially hair-raising and ultimately uneventful. I felt like it was hard to steer, which I'd been warned about on lots of other blogs, and hard to brake, which didn't seem quite right. It was also really loud, and at a short stop I got trapped inside and had to jump out the driver window. (Now I know not to knock the sliding door out of its track.)

Once we got to Mary the Marvelous Mechanic and she took a look, she validated my concerns by adding up a $1500 repairs estimate which included the steering column and rear brakes. If $1500 really covers it, then this purchase + repairs will cost exactly the $5000 that I budgeted for the initial vehicle cost! Whaaaaaat! Crossed fingers that it won't go over that. There's even a solid chance it will be under that. 

The Specs:

  • 1993 GMC Grumman Olsen P-35 Step-Van
  • 4,000 lbs. empty
  • 253,000 original miles 
  • 8-cylinder 350 engine (the second in it)
  • 10 miles to the gallon (maybe?)
  • 20' from bumper to bumper, 11'2" ground to roof, 6'11" wide
  • 6'10" tall and wide on the inside, 12' cargo space
  • brand new front tires
  • garage-style door and double rear wheels (boo) 
  • radio, a/c, heat, 120v outlet
  • broken gas gauge
  • chipped front windshield, 1 cracked side mirror
  • 1 door (passenger side)
  • Needs work on the steering column, rear axle and brakes, and exhaust system in order to pass state inspection.

The Pics:

So, I have to admit - I was a little anxious when I first visited this truck and agreed to buy it. The day before, I had found a seemingly perfect truck on Southside, and was minutes away from making an offer when it was bought out from under me. There was a buyer driving down from DC who the seller hadn't told me about. As soon as he showed up, he started the engine, checked to see if the lights and horn worked, and wrote a check. I made an awkward attempt at bidding higher, but the seller didn't want to get involved in a bidding war and waved me off.

After looking at all of these different truck listings, I had been really excited to find a truck semi-close to home and really close to what I wanted. Seeing it get bought so quickly scared me, and made me really anxious about this next truck. I'm mostly writing this as a journal entry - I'm curious to see if this bites me in the butt later. 

Honestly, this truck doesn't fit all my checkmark boxes from my earlier posts. This whole time I've been narrowing down and narrowing down based on the broad selection of the entire internet, BUT at the beginning of this hunt I was really wishing I just had something I could START on. My whole plan is more fitted to making what I have work, rather than some perfect vision. 

I'm really excited to just get started and figure out solutions to the problems I find, rather than trying to anticipate problems that I might never have. 

The Plan:

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At this point I'm just wading through the holidays, but now that I have a confirmed shape and size, I can start drawing up plans and applying liberal amounts of pinterest to the problem. After repairs, the truck will live at a warehouse on Northside (a soon-to-be maker space which I will hopefully have more news on soon!). Since I won't be driving it while I convert the inside, I won't bother to insure and register it for several months. This means it has to stay off the street until then. It also means I can't choose a vanity license plate until then... but a girl can dream. A girl can also push buttons and snigger. 

I'm keeping a spreadsheet of anticipated and actual costs, which I'll post sometime soon - probably once I have a more solid design plan.