Well, it's been awhile... quite a while since I got caught up here! I have been trying to edit a few older posts from 2014, as they seem to be in a weird ord... Show moreer, but haven't quite figured that out yet... Lil Help?
ANYway, there are newer vans all around and much news! I'll have to get all the pics into one place to post or maybe I can add and edit from the phone!
SOOOOOOO much has happened!
I truly LOVED the old White Ghost and kept her for 11 years altogether, through a trans rebuild debacle and many trips here and there. When we first got her way back in 2003, I was mesmerized by the high quality fit and finish of a Cobra Conversion van, it's dipped varnish trim and became enamored of the High Top version. A quest began for a High Top 1995 or earlier GM based Cobra Conversion van and finally I found one! Ebay!
The backstory: A friend and generally amazing Trust guy (creating, selling & servicing Irrevocable Wyoming Based Asset Management trusts) was doing Conference calls to draw in an audience. I have some web sites doing currency related investment stuff and Ray went on his own some years ago, where I helped get the word out and he did the calls, infomation and so on. We were never partners or finacially connected, but I was paid to help get the word out. His first year was really great and he told me he was going to get his dream ride, a new Mini Cooper! We talked about the various car interests and my great love of the early 1990's GM based Cobra Conversion van came up.I mentioned that I had found one on E-bay, but had missed it.
Long story made short: When the owner responded to an previous inquiry with the information that the buyer had not followed through on the deal, that came up between Ray and I on a subsequent phone call. I had "just" gotten an '89 Chev Mark III that had a rebuilt engine, recent tires (and tired red "panels" over the original white paint) to soothe my damaged ego over the missed Cobra High top.
Ray found that the Cobra was about an hour north of his Kentucky location, bought it and let me know! WOW!
It stayed there getting a frequent start up and a brief drive for several months while I tried to figure out how to let the Mrs know that... another van was coming home! You see, I had also bought a 1985 cargo G-10 Chevrolet van as a parts donor for the rough doors on the White Ghost, but it drove home and was a low mileage survivor showing 73K miles! That mileage was right as I had all the service records and receipts. It had been a one owner a potato chip company van and was really in too good of condition to canabalize. More later on that ride.
Ray called me in Octiober of 2013... he had bought used tires to get the Cobra moved with as the originals were shot, and was having a friend tow it up to me!
Soon after, I had to lose at least one van and the Ghost was the one to go. The miles were getting up around 230,000, the engine was suffering low oil pressure and making a little knock on startup, etc. I sold it to a friend and that worked for me from time to time on a payment plan, scrubbed and shined her up, and she left with her head high! His wife had seen it many times, always full of tools, sometimes materials or workers, but all scrubbed, it looked so good, she actually burst into tears. I had always used tarps or canvas, towels and pads when I carried tools or personell, no smoking, etc... so, she really cleaned up good! It was not to last! Payments were slow, I got maybe 3 in the next six months and when my patience was finally exhausted, I went to see about taking it back. It was a disaster! They had transported their 2 pit bulls around and left them inside while shopping many times. The immaculate interior was trashed! Almost my turn to cry!
The blinds were shredded, the corner of the power 3 panel sofa/bed was ripped and chewed, the carpet likewise, even clawed part of an upholstered wall panel "to death"! There was no repairing all that. There had been some body damage to boot. I was sickened by the poor care and lack of payments. Eventually, he broke down and never told me. The place he coasted into had it hauled to their storage lot, hidden in the country side someplace and demanded $1300 for storage. It died then and there. Probably went to the crusher long ago now. Sad.
The guy still works for me occaisionally, but I'll never really forgive him for that. They eventually got 2 additional pit bulls... can barely pay their bills... but... anyway, I digress. Why do bustouts ALWAYS have to have pit bulls or rotweillers? Writing this, years later, I'm still sad about the fate of the Ghost... wound up just like I feared... trashed, the venting section of one window missing, AC dead and him, driving around with a cigarette hanging... AAAARRRRGGGGHHHHH!
I got some decent pics of the van just before he got it, and I'll dig them up and post soon.
After I got the "new" Cobra High Top, I changed: the radiator which had a crack in one of the water jackets which had been poorly patched. While I had the shrouds off and with an eye to future needs, I changed the water pump, the belt, the idler pulley, the tensioner pulley, the thermostat, the alternator, all the hoses and belts that I could find in the front of the engine bay as well as wires, cap, rotor, plugs, filter & oil, coolant, tires, and so on. The used tires it came up to Missouri on were only ever intended for that use. There was nothing wrong so far as I knew with the rest of the stuff, but better to replace it at my leisure, rather than by the side of the road... in the rain or snow.... in the freezing cold or boiling heat... far from tools, home and help!
Following that, I let the Mrs use it for her daily school lunch duty and girlie drop off stuff while I got her Ford E-150 Debut van ready for the coming winter. That included changing out her seeping radiator as well, brakes, 2 tires, oil & filter, coolant, upper and lower hoses, thermostat, belt, etc.
After driving my prized Cobra High top for a week or more... well, the high top was her new attraction as well. she is so small that she can stand up in the area behind the cockpit and almost all the way back to the sofa.
We found her an Explorer High Top in Summitt white with gold ground effects and after review, I did the Buy it Now thing and we soon headed to Bloomington, IL to recover it. We went up in the Green Giant, hoping they might take it in. He was suspicious that it had troubls, but tested everything and was amazed that I would put so much in parts and work, just to sell it. I explained about the Cobra and wasn't worried about selling it at all. If he couldn't make a fair deal, I was happy to drive it right back home and sell it myself. We left it behind and came home in the 2000 Chevrolet Explorer! For awhile after that, when we would see a "low top" conversion van we would say... "Those poor people!" She didn't think she would like white, but later informed me that it had grown on her and even if we got a brand new one, white would do. She LOVES her van and except for a long trip, will NOT let me drive it at all! What the.... what did I crreate?
I'll dig up the pictures and post some ASAP showing all this stuff. I might have a few on this machine, and if so, I'll get them up.
MUCH more to the stories and goings on! Stay Tuned!
The White Ghost, our Big White Box! I found this site while looking for some rubber mouldings, maybe a new cargo door for the side and decided to register an... Show mored type all this. Never drink coffee too late in the evening! I hope you enjoy!I thought I had lots of trip pics, I do ... but few actually show the old White Ghost. This one was (above) taken in early March.
Last year (2008) she carried the 6 us off to Michigan and many interesting places with no trouble at all. Hey just over 223,000 miles so barely broke in, right?We always pull a matching white 16' enclosed "Pace" trailer with all the luggage, Grandpa's power and wheel chairs, stuff we pick up along the way (like the ancient Packard Bell floor model radio I brought home) and so on. The net benefit is a spacious and uncrowded ride for everyone.The White Ghost is a 1993 GMC 2500 Vandura Conversion by Cobra, and being almost perfectly designed, remained almost unchanged untill quite recently.You can see in the pics below the rust starting under the passenger rear cargo door in 2007, and by this summer the dogleg was more "holey" than not as was the whole length of the driver side lower body. Some white duct tape actually slowed things and got me thru the winter almost without being seen, but this year had to mean rework or separation! To save all the pointing and laughing, I actually put a layer of white duct tape from the top of the running board to the bottom of the dressup panel (polished wide moulding at the bottom of the van)to seal and hold the rocker areas together through the winter. Here it's pulled loose in the front for the photo, but it really was a good 'get by' solution so she didn't "look" like the rust bucket she was becoming till better weather would allow for a restoration.I didn't want her to convert to a French vehicle (La Junque-mobile) so I would need time to have her down, and something else big enough to haul us around while work got done.
I began a search for another full size van in February(2009) and located a winner in early March. A 1996 Ford E-150 conversion by Debut out of Saginaw, Michigan, small world! She's a real Creampuff! Amazingly, aside from some upholstry wear on the drivers seat edge, (balding velour syndrome), she seems unaffected by her years. More on the Ford later. Update: I created a page for the Ford, and she's been re-christened the "Green Giant". Hey, the Ford page needs work, but one thing at a time.So, equipped with alternate transport, I began to conceptualize about the Vandura.I "stole" it in 2003 on the last day of a tent sale where it had been traded in and remained uninspected, unwashed and parked along the back line. It was at a Ford dealer near Sandwich, Illinois, home of the Sandwhich Fair, America's oldest consistent annual fair! I was picking up an Aerostar that I had traded for with another guy and that was in their shop for A/C work. It was the end of the sale, early evening and we needed more room in a vehicle. I used to cruise a lot with my old 1985 E-150 conversion (update later) and preferred the bigger boxes, but always liked conversions better than factory "window" vans. They wanted my Aerostar for trade and $3,000.00! Yeah, right!
This was right when gasoline had just hit the $2/gal threshold and everyone was again looking for some kind of econo-shrink-mobile. Everyone but me! Hey, taking the girls to school was 8 blocks round trip, and Wal Mart was 3 minutes door to door. I couldn't have cared less about gas mileage. And trips, well thats another time when it's all about comfort, not mileage! You want to go 2200 miles with your Bride, a baby, and 2 elementary age girls.... in a car? Any car? It's at these times when we come to a clear understanding about the value of incidentals like space, personal space. And little things like sanity! I just love the feeling of someone's feet or knees pushing into my back or nether regions as they stretch from the back seat, don't you? NOT!
So, less than stellar fuel consumption was my leverage ... and I used it .... a lot. The sheer size of the thing was a chink in their fascade ... I made it a huge gaping hole! I told them to call me after they tried it at the auction, after they detailed it first, and hey, it might need some work.An hour later I left with both vans and they got my check for $1600.00! Jesse James used a gun, I stuck to mine! In the spring of 08 I turned down $3000.00.So from the start I always knew I was way ahead on the White Ghost and she was in great shape inside with only a crack in the running board and what I knew was the beginnings of rust starting to creep up from the bottom of the rockers. I went home and researched the Cobra name, found that they built a respectable unit and determined to hang on for a good long while. So far I have.So we scrubbed and polished and went EVERYWHERE in her!
From Central Illinois at the time, just west of Chicago she carried us to near Flint Michigan in '03, moved us to Missouri in '04, took us to Seattle in '04, to Seattle again in '07, Michigan again for Christmas '07 and "Summer Vacation" in '08. We've seen the Corn Palace, the Shedd Aquarium, "1880 Town" in Iowa, Crossroads Village (in Michigan, way better than 1880 Town!), the Space Needle, the Lewis and Clark Trail (all of it), the Devils Tower, Mt. Rushmore (twice, go if you can, it will inspire your patriotism anew), Crazy Horse monument, Dinosaur park in Rapid City, The Museum of the Rockies, Cour D'lene, Lake Katchess, Independence, Missouri, Wall Drug!!!!, the Auburn-Cord-Dusenburg Museum, the USS Silversides, the Crazy Mountains, the Cascades, the Black Hills, the Rocky Mountains, the Great Plains, Dutch Village in Holland Michigan, Frankenmuth (basically Germany) in Michigan, Snoqualmie Falls in the Cascades, and many dinners at various "Cracker Barrel" restaurants from Mizzoula, Montana to Michigan. She carried us to a nephew's High School football games in the Fall, cheerleader stuff and Girls Basketball in the winter, sales calls all around the States of Illinois and Missouri, and she has served as kitchen, motel, field trip bus, mobile office and cargo hauler among other things!