When you think back to iconic 1980s cargo haulers, the Chevrolet Astro van may be one of the first vehicles that come to mind. Becoming an icon of Chevy’s ability to produce both a family hauler and versatile adventurer, many feel the Astro van disappeared off the lineup way before its time. But with the appearance of a recent petition and rallying of Astro enthusiasts, could the Chevy Astro van be making a comeback?
The Chevrolet Astro van: how a cult favorite was discontinued
Back in the ’80s, the minivan was just gaining popularity among consumers. To compete with Dodge, Toyota, and Plymouth, Chevrolet brought its own van to the segment in 1985, the Chevrolet Astro.
According to Love to Know, “it didn’t take long for the Astro to become one of the most popular passenger vans in the ’80s and ’90s.” For the first time ever, Chevy produced a large-family-vehicle that combined hauling and towing capabilities with maximum interior cargo capacity.
The first Chevy Astro vans were rear-wheel drive, with a larger body than most other minivans that allowed it to tow up to 5,000 lbs; more than any other on the market at the time.
The Chevy Astro changed throughout the years, becoming stronger, more powerful, and more customizable. But the Astro would become a thing of the past, regardless of its good sales numbers. After 20 years on the road, General Motors cut production of the Astro, claiming they could “no longer justify” building the Astro at “volumes that are significantly below the plant’s capacity,” according to MotorTrend.
Though it was discontinued in 2005, “many aspects of the design lived on into the future in the creation of other Chevy vehicles.” And there are a lot of people that never forgot the Astro van.
Fans of the van refuse to accept defeat
From the beginning, the Astro van had fans. Easily customizable and ready to hit the road, the Astro provided the perfect size and access for outdoor adventuring.
With the access and reach the internet provides, fans are rallying behind the Astro more than a decade after its discontinuation. According to Car and Driver, a new online petition has been started to bring the Chevy Astro van back, complete with its own website and “a fake new Astro commercial that’s full of ’80s video special effects.” Creators of the petition also built BringBacktheAstro.com, a website dedicated to everything Astro, including its future.
Beginning with the work of two Astro enthusiasts, the “Bring Back the Astro Van” petition received more than 400 signatures in its first week of existence on Change.org. Now, the petition has more 1,500 signatures and #vanlife can now be seen on every corner of the internet.
According to the petition, “a growing community continues to recognize and discover what an Astro can do on the terrain of road and the ride of life,” giving “the gift of creative adventure through non-traditional travel and lodging.” But will General Motors consider bringing the Chevy Astro van back?
Will the Chevy Astro be back?
There is some skepticism surrounding whether this petition will persuade General Motors in its favor or not. The people at Motor1 are “a bit skeptical about an Astro revolution,” because Chevy is still currently “offering its full-size Express van that people are already converting for camper duty.”
But others are still holding hope for a born-again Astro van, with plenty of reasons why GM may profit off a new front-engine, rear-wheel drive van for today’s outdoor adventurers. And with GM reviving other popular models such as Hummer, the possibility of #vanlife enthusiasts getting their wish may not be that farfetched.