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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm Rick from San Jose and I'm building an Astro roadster. Well I should say, I built one, but now I need to make it nice. I bought a 98 with 161k on the clock and have cut the roof. Such a fun vehicle. My kids love it. The goal of the build is a fun lake/good weather van. We own a cabin 5 miles from the lake and this would make a great summer ride. Plus San Jose has such nice weather I can use it most of the year. Just a fun cheap toy. Here are the plans for the van.

Cut the roof
Install a new stereo. Nothing crazy, just a head unit and speakers
Roll bar for safety
Pull the carpet and Rhino line the floor. (going to make dealing with sand and water so much easier)
Wood for the sides to cover the cuts
Figure out how to get some rigidity back in the sides. (The way the drivers side body panel flops around is hilarious)
Fix the slider
Run the wiring as clean as possible
All the small things I'm forgetting to make this work

Here is how the van looked Friday on it's first drive
Wheel Tire Land vehicle Car Vehicle



I've also relocated the 3rd brake line to the rear door.
Automotive parking light Tire Wheel Car Automotive tail & brake light
 

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1999 AWD Safari, 1995 Astro 5-speed
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Haha welcome!


Looks good, are you making a soft top?

For the roll bar im wondering if you could modify or extend a wrangler cage instead of going totally custom.
The unlimited wrangler is pretty long
 

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2000 Lifted 4x4 Astro 92 V8-350 Shorty
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VERY COOL...
I THINK IT'S FANTASTIC!!

(in Florida I'd lose the cloth seats.. lol)
 

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If it were mine. I would make a soft top for it or at least a car port so when it rains it's covered. I would put some sort of roll cage to re strengthen the whole thing as well as mount seat belts if needed. I am a safety conscious person, so make sure it's a safe vehicle overall, since you removed some safety aspects it once had. If you chose to install some sort of roll cage make sure it is done with the correct pipe and not exhaust pipe as I have seen done. Mark
 

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2000 Lifted 4x4 Astro 92 V8-350 Shorty
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Most convertibles (even modern ones) DON'T come with roll-bars.
I wouldn't consider it essential.

But on the flip-side (no pun intended)... a roll-bar could certainly add some strength, does ADD an "extra" level of safety.. and would probably look pretty cool too. They usually look great on trucks.
 

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1999 AWD Safari, 1995 Astro 5-speed
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Most convertibles (even modern ones) DON'T come with roll-bars.
I wouldn't consider it essential.

But on the flip-side (no pun intended)... a roll-bar could certainly add some strength, does ADD an "extra" level of safety.. and would probably look pretty cool too. They usually look great on trucks.
Yeah but factory car based convertibles have two things going for them-

- A pillars specifically reinforced to hold the weight of the vehicle, and a much lower center of gravity for the most part.

Also a lot of modern car based convertibles are equipped with pop up emergency roll bars.

In this situation we have a very high center of gravity vehicle that has had the strength of the unibody compromised. As the OP states, the sheet metal is flopping around just driving around. It will fold up like a cut in half aluminum can if hit or rolled.

Factory convertibles with high center of gravity almost universally have roll bars. In this case returning the strength to the structure of the van would be essential for me, plus as you point out it would look bad ***
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Getting a basic roll cage put in. 1 hoop behind the front seats , 1 behind the rear with bars connecting them and a diagonal bar in the back. Went to a pro drift shop today to set it up. They are making and fixing cages all the time. I drop it off on the 16th. They had a BRZ with a blow Vette motor too :D.

No soft top for now. It barely rains here and I have a cover. The weather here is opposite of Florida, no surprise rain. Plus during summer it will be in a garage.

Cutting the roof off didn't seem to do anything to the rigidity of the Astro. I'm really surprised. Drives better than expected. The weather has been nice and it really has been a blast driving it around. The kids love it. They don't want to go back to the Odyssey.
 

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Ah, El CAstro or is it more Brat since there are seats in the bed? I'd weld the sliding door shut. Might make it more rigid and don't need to figure out how to make the slider work. As for the soft top. Harbor Freight blue tarp it. Use it as needed. Also I reckon the kids will need a face shield. Or a roof spoiler.

I am curious about loss/gain in MPG.

Mine came from your neck of the woods (Mountain View) and now near Monterey.
 

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2000 Lifted 4x4 Astro 92 V8-350 Shorty
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Same gas is currently $4.50 here in Florida.
California taxes... enjoy
 

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California is not about taxes, silly, it's about the rich folks there and all the slaves that work for them. LOL should be a sign at every entrance to the state that says "take out your wallet now!" I know I own a home there. Mark
 

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2000 Lifted 4x4 Astro 92 V8-350 Shorty
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Filled up today in South Florida.
Hard to believe $4.39 is a good price compared to some of you guys.
(photo taken 2 hours ago)
Plant Property Wheel Tree Tire


Double roll-bar would look good, and in addition to the other benefits would give you a place to throw cover over in the event of unforeseen weather.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
With a 4 year old and putting adults back there I need the slider. My 7 year old prefers to Dukes of Hazzard into the van. I've gotten good at opening and closing the floppy door, but I'd like to find a better solution so everyone can open and close it.

Back seat riders have to wear sunglasses so they don't take a bug to the eye. Once the roll cage is in we'll see what that does to the wind back there. I have thought of a small lip spoiler for the roof to direct air over. Not sure if that will really work though.

No idea what the mpg change is. I barely drove it before cutting the roof off. Don't really care even with $6.50 a gallon gas. This is a fun toy and not a commuter.

Despite what you have read on FakeBook taxes isn't the main reason gas is so expensive here. There is only a $.32 difference in gas tax between California and Florida. The rest is the California blend of gas and mostly rent. Land is expensive here and the high lease cost for the land the gas station is on is reflected in the price. The median home price in Santa Clara county is 3 times that of Miami-Dade county. Station owners have to cover that much higher land cost and it shows at the pump. Plus California has always been screwed on gas prices. I wouldn't be surprised if they find collusion with the oil companies to screw us. I'll have to go to fancy pants Los Gatos and take a picture of the $7 gallon of gas there.

The double roll bar would make a cover easier, but there is no such thing as unforeseen weather out here. Hell, we won't see a drop of rain for at least the next 3 months. It's maybe once a decade it rains in July or August. Very different weather than South Florida.

One thing I really like about the Astro is the parts are CHEAP! I just ordered 4 shocks, front wheel bearings, front brake pads and a fuel filter from RockAuto for the grand total of $120. My last toy was an 01 Audi S4. I couldn't even buy 1 shock for that price on the Audi.
 

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2000 Lifted 4x4 Astro 92 V8-350 Shorty
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Fun toy for certain!

And everyone is suddenly an expert! lol
Sounds like you know what you are doing... have fun and enjoy!
 

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California is also a "fuel island". We don't have a pipeline like the Colonial serving the east coast (where I'm originally from). Gas has to be produced here or shipped in.
 

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1999 AWD Safari, 1995 Astro 5-speed
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Found this pic on the web, removed roof with rollbar on astro, looks pretty cool


Concerning the sliding door, maybe you could sidestep the problem, fit the van with only captains chairs or middle bench seats, and make an aisle for people to enter from the rear, then install a camper style fold down step under the primary dutch door.
 

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Sweet project, looking forward to progression on this!

Some kind of rollcage/tubing would look cool along with like a Jeep safari top, or even I think they have some kind of UV blocking micro-netting.

Either way it'll be a rad beach day tripper!
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Found this pic on the web, removed roof with rollbar on astro, looks pretty cool


Concerning the sliding door, maybe you could sidestep the problem, fit the van with only captains chairs or middle bench seats, and make an aisle for people to enter from the rear, then install a camper style fold down step under the primary dutch door.
I like what they did with that Astro. Wish I had saw that one before I started my project.

Can't do captains chairs. The big reason I did this is to have a roadster that seats 8. So I gotta stick with my benches.
 
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