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Far Beyond Driven, the story of Vantera

19419 Views 142 Replies 34 Participants Last post by  ericstg
Yup I named it Vantera. All of the vans on here have cool names. My buddy started calling it Vanna but there are thousands of white vans with that name. So Vantera it is.

I started with the simple idea of doing a super cheap 2" lift and a little bigger tire. Found a add a leaf locally. Found some Cooper 235/70r16's and some Silverado wheels locally also. Got 2" pucks and hardware from 1lowcab (thanks again dude!) and read through wimp's 2+1 lift thread. Actually read through just about everyone's lift thread.

Front lift went great! Not a single problem. Every step of the process is mentioned on this site. Every answer you need is here...somewhere.



I'm pretty sure the AC condenser is suppose to be mounted to something. Not a big deal, just throw some bolts in there and move on.


And I'm sitting there fumbling around with a floor jack and some 4x4 chunks of wood thinking to myself "wish I had a jack that goes higher". Wait a sec, I do have a jack that goes higher.




Broke a few bolts. They weren't important anyway.


E brake cable bracket was so easy I forgot to take a pic.

Now here is where things went down hill for a moment. I actually thought I could jam a add a leaf into the original 250K mile fleet vehicle spring pack and get a full 2" of lift. Nope, not at all. After all that work I got it back on the ground to measure my success...1", that's it. If anyone is thinking about doing this kind of lift be realistic, these vans are getting older, they need new springs. And my shackles were pretty crappy looking, so while the credit card was out.



Should be a little rubber bump stop here correct?


Took a sec to fix some broken mounts for the exhaust heat shields.


Now from here on out I didn't really get any pics. Ran into another little issue, shock length. Rear ended up being way higher then I anticipated. My old blown out air shocks would not cut it(front shocks were bad too so figure I'd buy all four at once). Central 4wd is close to my house, I'll just run by there real fast. They did not have Rancho or Procomp that I wanted. So I picked up a set of Skyjacker Hydro 7000. They are a tight fit, almost too tight, but screw it, I want to drive it. I'll order new shocks next week if I have too.

This is totally worth it!



The 2+1 lift(plus shackle), for me, turned out to be 3.25 in the front and 4.75 in the rear.

More parts on order as I type this.
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Yup, with that lift, n the agressively focused look in her "eyes", looks like a real prowling panther! I love the looks, of the sealed beam grille! Tyres, as I can tell, are 235/70/16, right?
Looking good man!! It's amazing how much a lift and bigger tires will totally change the look of these vans.

I named it Vantera
LOL, Love it :rockon:
Thanks for the compliments guys!

Correct, 235/70r16...for now. The plan is still to buy real tires once I get it dialed in.

Some new stuff!

The lift maxed out my rear brake line plus the bump stops have rotted away so I ordered new ones. And the exhaust hangers.

Pro Comp ES3000 shocks and some new boots.

Now I ran over to my brake shop, been going to the same shop for about 8 years or so. Told the guy to do whatever he thought would be best. Long story short, Vantera now has all new brake lines and hoses from about the drivers seat back. Kinda dig the way they did it, gives me plenty of room to go higher if I want.


Found one of these today.


My mind is constantly racing with tire ideas. My lift is bigger then anticipated, I have plenty of room, why not go a little bigger? One minute I am ok with 235/70r16, next minute I definitely want 225/75r16, might be able to squeeze 245/70r16's in there, no thats dumb, too wide...well what about 235/75r16? Not as common but plenty of manufacturers make a AT tire in that size. Wish I could find a set used to try out before I commit.


Think it's ok to put Safari wheels on a Astro? Won't rip a hole in space and time or anything?

I know, not a AT tire but size is close enough for me. The seller was kinda sketchy, told me they were Suburban wheels. $200 bucks with lug nuts! I am gonna try 235/75R16 for a week or two. Just me or are aluminum wheel freakishly light compared to steel wheels?

I'll get the wheels on and take pics tomorrow.
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Is that a factory metal gas tank skid plate? or off another model?
or did I miss it entirely
That lift gain doesn't sound right. Are you including tire clearance gain?

My gas tank cover is metal but I have heard of plastic ones. Do some come with none at all?
TurnNburn said:
My gas tank cover is metal but I have heard of plastic ones. Do some come with none at all?
Some even come with the remains of what used to be a metal shield.
Gotta remember to put one of those on the shopping list! :confused:
Yes that is a factory metal gas tank skid plate. I've also seen it called the fuel tank shield. From my research it is GM part # 15764954 for 2001 to 2005 Astro's. Guessing its the same on Safari's. And it is a discontinued part, called a few dealers around here looking for a new one, they told me try the junk yards. Looks like most junk yards punch holes in the tanks when vehicles come in, sometimes they go right through the shield. Vantera came with what resembles the remains of a metal shield, I looked at a 1999 that had no shield at all. At this point who knows if a particular van has one or not, maybe the tank was pulled in 2011 and they didn't put the shield back or maybe it was in an accident it was never replaced. I think the best bet for finding one is craigslist, find someone parting out a van and grab it. Best of luck to our friends in the Midwest.

TurnNburn - My lift gain measurements were all taken with the stock tire size, 215/70r16. I did this to accurately gauge the amount of lift I got, didn't want to mess with taking into account changes in tire size. I measured from the ground to the fender lip at the center of the axles, with the spare tire in place and no additional crap in the van. And about a quarter tank of gas. Stock wheels/tires with no lift measured 30 1/4" in the front and 31" in the rear. After the 2+1 lift, which included maxing out the torsion bar adjustment bolts and the new shackle, I am sitting at 33 1/2" and 35 3/4" with the stock wheels/tires. The new shackles at their lowest setting are still quite a bit longer then the stock ones. I'm sure the rear will settle in and come down a bit. Until then it looks like a freaking hot rod! Love it!
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I am running 235/85/R19. very little rub but major surgery on all the plastic and metal back to the actual rockers in the front. I have a set for sale in the for sale thread,lol.
Rinny said:
I am running 235/85/R19. very little rub but major surgery on all the plastic and metal back to the actual rockers in the front. I have a set for sale in the for sale thread,lol.
235/85R19?! That's a big tire. Can I swing by and try them on?
Today was new front shocks and wheels. Also hit everything with the grease gun. Ditched the inner fender splash shields.


Did I ever show off the bumper relocation bracket? Well here it is. Thanks wimpazz for figuring out the Lowes part number. There's one of 1lowcab's lift blocks too.


Even had time for a little modeling session today.



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Rinny said:
I am running 235/85/R19. very little rub but major surgery on all the plastic and metal back to the actual rockers in the front. I have a set for sale in the for sale thread,lol.
OOPS R16....................ya 19's would be quite a trick

The van is coming rite along, looking good!!
RIGHT ON! Looking good, glad it worked out.
Frickin LOVE the name too!

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Any of you cargo owners keep the bulk head divider? Cause ammo cans fit perfectly in that space. Great for tools or ratchet straps or ammo!


Got my jack up on the roof rack today. Previous owner had it mounted all dumb, so I mounted it less dumb. Drilled 1/8" holes in the ends of the 1/2" carriage bolts for hair pins. So if the wingnuts come loose they wont just fall off, still super easy to remove when needed. Before I needed 2 19mm wrenches to remove the jack, one to hold the bolt, one to remove the nyloc then the regular nut.




I'm in love with this tire size. 235/75r16. The Safari wheels are growing on me too.



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Little update for every one. While its not as exciting as a engine replacement or a V8 swap, I'm pretty happy with the progress.

Finally replaced the fuel tank shield. Here is the old one, or whats left of it.


HotWire inspired me with his painted tank straps. Then I lost control, painted the whole damn thing Chevy orange.



Much easier to get to the roof rack now.




Added some grip tape to the roof for a little extra traction. Know a guy who owns a skate shop, hooked me up on some tape.


Light bar is wired up! Wasn't sure if it even worked but found out it works quite well. Just had to drill another hole in the roof, no big deal, drill was already out.



Pretty good place for a switch.



Now I'm gonna spend the rest of the weekend just cruising around listening tapes!



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Man, that tank cover turned out nice, and those folding steps are ingenious, perfect solution.

Now get out there and crank some Crazy Train!!!!!!!!!!!!!! :rockon:
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