this is all whatever suits you. they changed the van considerably in 95 (I think) with the new front end, so appearance-wise its basically pre 95 and post 95. There are many other factors to consider as well, though.
Some of the things to take into account while shopping:
Not sure if any smaller engines other than a 4.3l were used on the earlier models, but they used a TBI 4.3l set up until like 94 or 95, after this they went to the Vortec 4.3l. They would have gone to OBD-II in 1996. The Vortec made great power for the time and OBD-II would make diagnostics much easier using apps and a reader, as well as custom programming.
Pretty sure they went to a much better gauge set up after 95, too. I think some may have even been digital, which I would probably avoid. LOL.
There are different rear door set ups; there are the standard barn doors, and there is a liftgate with split lower rear doors. My Astro had the barn doors, but I always wanted the lift gate so I could open it while cruising. I am not sure if anything other than a slider was available on the side doors.
There are AWD and RWD versions, as well as 5 lug and 6 lug versions. these can directly impact what you plan to do with it as far as suspension mods and wheel choices.
There are Shorty and EXT versions. The Shorty has ZERO room behind the rear-most seat, but if your going to do a custom van the shorty would be sweet.
The Astro/Safari with a hightop looks pretty good. better than a Full Size van with one, IMO.
I had a 92 EXT AWD Astro. It was a TBI 4.3l and ran well with over 265k miles on it when I sold it. .Common Astro problems are things like broken door handles and chaffed wiring that may have to be trouble shot. I had to replace Injector harnesses and fuel pump harness on mine that had chaffed through, and I had to rewire a spot at the firewall that was a common issue and left me stranded in VA. 20 minute fix and it was never a problem again. I had a couple wheel bearings that I needed to replace, as well as the driveshaft to the front. They were all easy fixes. It was hands down one of the best vehicles I ever owned.
Personally, I would think that a later model RWD 5 Lug shorty with a high top and vortec 4.3 would be badass... especially if you could find a hightop with no windows. Slam the front down and put some nice wheels and paint on it and you would have a GREAT looking van!
Last edited by NEmery; July 09th 2020 10:02 am.