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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
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I've also relocated the 3rd brake line to the rear door.
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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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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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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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Discussion Starter · #21 ·
Got the stereo installed. For some reason it is offset to the left. Don't know why, as there was no left or right adjustment. I used the Metra kit and it only requires trimming the top and bottom, not the sides. Has anyone else had this issue? Other than that the stereo works great. I didn't want one with an lcd since I can't lock the van. This one was under $200 out the door at Best Buy and I am really pleased. Works awesome with Bluetooth audio. Also, screw you GM for riveting in the rear door speakers! And of course the dash cracked due to cheap 24 year old GM plastic.

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Discussion Starter · #22 ·
Fixed the rear wiring. There was wiring that went along the top of the back roof that I had to deal with. Unfortunately I forgot to take a before picture. I cut out all the wiring for things no longer on the car, taped it up, and redid 2 grounds.
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I trimmed the panel that across the bottom so I could sneak the wiring below it.
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Here's the final product. I'll have to get a better picture in the morning. It came out great. Once the roll cage is in I can clean up the side wiring nicer. Once the side panels get back in you won't see any wiring.
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Discussion Starter · #24 ·
Just picked the Astro up from getting the roll cage yesterday. It came out so much better looking than I expected. They built mounts so all the seatbelts are still 3 point. Drift Cave Motorsport hit it out of the park on this.
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Next up is painting the cage and the bed liner the floor.
 

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Discussion Starter · #26 ·
Better put some overhead padding on those bars.. lol
Looks great
Thanks!
The outside seats your head misses the bar, but the middle seats definitely has head bonking potential. Thus the middle seats are kids and short people only. Since I have a 4 and 7 year old I won't do padding, but if I was loading it up with adults padding would definitely be a good idea.
 

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Discussion Starter · #29 ·
Thanks. I'm thinking more about a top now that the roll cage is beefier than I originally thought. We just had a week of 95 degree weather, and while we don't get the Florida rain, the sun was brutal. A little shade would definitely help on days like that.

Today, before it got too hot I was able to get the first coat of paint on the roll cage. The shop recommend I paint it with Steel-It. Stuff is expensive. $38 a can. And two coats is going to take 3 cans. Of course I ordered two so I can't do the second coat until Thursday when another can arrives.

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Discussion Starter · #32 ·
Thanks!

That's actually a good idea if I do a top. I never thought of going to a Marine shop, but that makes sense. Might be a good thing to do in winter when they need work.


That turned out amazing! I love it, makes me want to lop the roof off mine as well!

Concerning a top i would take that by a marine canvas shop and let them pattern it for a simple sun top (i work for one of these) as said, a bimini top like a boat, but with maybe some extra reinforcements or tensioning for road speeds.

Since you say you arent ever going to drive this in the rain, you can use a track and bolt rope along the leading edge. The track can just screw right down onto the roof and then the top would slide in the from the side, and you would have a solid connection to try and cut down on flapping. This arrangement would not be truly water tight for a car, but perfect for sun.

If you do this make sure you go by in the off season, like for example this week would be a bad time to visit a canvas shop as all the marinas a trying to get boats in the water for july 4.

This is an awesome job
 

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Discussion Starter · #37 ·
Got the floor painted today. I used Herculiner. It was pretty easy to use. The worse part, like always, was prep. The interior panels are going back on once I trim them for the roll cage. Thus the sloppiness on the drivers side. Overall I am very please with it. Next is putting trim pieces back, front seats back and 8" powered sub under the passenger seat.

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Discussion Starter · #39 ·
That's a very interesting idea that just might work. I'll have to keep that in mind once I get further into the project and have wood over my cuts.
 

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Discussion Starter · #42 ·
Now that the floor is done I can start building things up. Got the sub installed today. I've never installed a sub before, but I have installed stereo stuff. I got a Blaupunkt 8" powered sub. It was only $107. Absolute steal. The damn wiring for it cost about as much. Put it under the passenger seat. Had to make little mounting blocks due to the hump in the floor. It sounds great. Plenty of power. Really rounds out the music.
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Discussion Starter · #43 ·
Got the interior panels back in. Definitely needs some more trimming, but it works for now. The bottom panel in the middle of the drivers side had to get hacked up to get back in there. Need to find a solution that doesn't look so bad.
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Discussion Starter · #44 ·
Just got back from 9 days at the cabin with my family and my cousin's family. Getting the van at least usable for this trip was my main goal. I drove the van the 150 miles to our cabin. From a cool 66 degrees on the freeway in San Jose to 98 in the foothills. Definitely made it interesting with no heater (now that I actually put some miles on it I've notice the thermostat is stuck open) and no AC. My wife and kids drove in comfort in our Odyssey with all the stuff for the trip. My cousin's family had never seen it so their kids got a kick out of it, especially the lights. It worked great for day trips up to Pinecrest Lake. Had to play a bit of Tetris to get all the stuff to fit, but it worked.

I have never got so much attention in any car ever. Absolute hit with everyone. The sheriff said it was the coolest thing he has ever seen. It was so much fun. Everyone had a blast in it. My neighbor even put his 3 kids in the back for a slow 11 passenger party drive around the neighborhood. From a crazy idea two months ago, to this was a ton of work, but even more fun than I thought it would be. I'm leaving it at my cabin through Labor day. Then I'll bring it back to San Jose to keep working on it.

And if you want to talk about expensive gas the station closest to the lake ripping off all the tourist was $6.79 a gallon!

Here's a selfie of everyone and the van loaded up ready for a day at the lake.
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