The wife and I are keeping our eyes open for a new van to replace our 15 passenger Dodge that has developed a couple rust holes in the roof. The other day, we came across a 97 Chevy Conversion Van on CL for $850. The body looks rust free, paint is in good shape, and interior is well kept. Only problem is the PO says it has an engine knock.
The engine is a 5.7L, I assume from the LS/ LQ family, right? From the little research I've done, the knocking was a problem on these engines, a factory problem with the bearings. They had a service bulletin issued by GM concerning them. My options are to install a reman short-block, junkyard swap the same size mill, or possibly a LQ4 (6.0L). The 6.0's seem to have a good reputation and they are popular among the street rod crowd and have pretty good aftermarket support. Will the stock auto hold up to the additional power? What would be the best motor for a balance of power and fuel economy?
To fit our family's needs, we need to put in the stock seating, maximizing the number of passengers. I think it is a 1500, since it has 5 lug wheels. Did these come with 12 seats standard or fewer?
Is $850 a good deal or an I opening pandora's box? (Pandora's Box would be a good name for a van!) What problem areas should I look out for? Are any areas prone to rust that I should check? Any other problematic areas that are common to these vans?