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Which Chevy Short Bus to choose???
#1
Ok, this is a unusual choice in that they represent three generations of Chevy vans???. All heavy duty 1-tons. I bought all three as a lot after they had the rear lights melted by a vehicle torched behind them where they were parked. Also some windows were vandalized.  I’ve since repaired the lights and the windows except four windows of the 2004 3500 including the windshield. 
 I can choose only one of these Chevy cut-away van short school buses to convert and use for my dream of full time vandwelling. One of them perhaps might become a work vehicle for tools and not need much invested in it. The seats are removed already in the two older buses. Whichever one is converted would need to be painted. I can do the paint myself as it doesn’t need to be fancy. 
  Oldest to newest:
 1996 G30 (unibody frame), four window, 115 K miles, 350 gas engine, runs and drives good; 
1997 C3500 Express van, four window, 133k miles, 6.5 L turbo diesel, runs and drives good;
2004 3500 Express van, five window, 145k miles, 6.0 gas engine, ran and drove good when parked. 
 I was excited about the 6.5 diesel after I read owners claiming they were getting anywhere from 15-20 mpg. After testing it for a couple months I determined it was getting about 12 mpg. It has a more solid driving feel to it than the unibody G30. However G30 could be very cute and affordable I reckon. But I’m leaning towards solid.  And it, the 1997 C3500 has less electronics. A plus or a minus determined by ones opinion of electronics. I’ve old school knowledge of auto repair and am not a huge fan of electronics. But newer vehicles seem to run a looong time between tune ups. 
 A factor is I have a 12 foot cargo trailer to tow. 
 Another factor is I have not owned a Chevy in 30 years except my 2002 Express cargo van I recently purchased to escape from Florida in. It was beautifully maintained and inexpensive so I jumped at it. It’s been a great van except the difficult job of replacing the intake manifold gaskets after 20k miles. Otherwise no Chevys came my way since my Camaro after high school until recently. 
 So I get back to the West Coast and have 4 now. When it rains it pours. Am I a van nerd now lol? The 2002 cargo van might get sold and replaced by the 1996 G30 as a wider cargo and tool van. It’s bigger and I haul a lot of stuff around.  I’m still working seasonally, not ready to retire. 
 Ive only driven the 2004 3500 briefly so far so I’m jumping the gun here a little. The 2004 3500 is a few feet longer which might be good for a bed at the rear. However I’m too tall to sleep sideways comfortably in any of them.  I’m just wondering what you good folks have experienced with Chevy vans?.
 Unfortunately I’ve been so busy messing around with these and my old motorhome that none of them are completely ready to go to Quartzsite. I’ve driven the diesel the most and am beginning to like it and trust it. It may have a weak glow plug relay as the light goes on and off confusing me on when to crank it. But that shouldn’t be a big deal. Also I’ve read they have a control module attached to the electronic injector pump that can overheat and fail. My landlord says in the cool Pacific Northwest overheating is not much of a concern. But I would want to move the control unit to a better place. I read a custom wiring adapter can be purchased for this modification. Time, money, and weather are the obstacles currently. Next Spring and Summer I plan to complete converting one and sell off a lot of material things. Its almost more than I can handle. I hope this Winterr goes well for you all. Thanks
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#2
Correction to my post: I stated the 1997 has less electronics. In actuality the 1996 has less.
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#3
all three are good drive trains so whichever one is in the best shape and fits your needs

the 350 is cheapest to fix but not very economical
the 6.5 a little more expensive to fix but economical,good low end torque but smells like diesel
the 6.0 about the same as the 6.5 to fix but can get a lot of power out of them and better mpg than the 350
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#4
Ok, thanks BT. I’m looking forward to driving the 2004 with the 6.0L. Higher power and mpg is motivating. I think the 1997 is a Gen 1 Express van and the 2004 is a Gen 2 Express van. I may be a Express van guy by time I’m done.
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#5
Oh, I “hear” you, pun intended, the 6.5 L diesel is noisy and smelly !! But maybe some good aftermarket sound deadened would go a long way to reduce the noise. I will mention the engine doesn’t smoke much. If it was a belching diesel smoke I wouldn’t consider it.
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#6
For me it would be the 2004. The engine will go 300k with maintenance. 99-07 were very good years for GM trucks and vans. The flex fuel engines that came out in late 07 are terrible.

The electrically controlled injector pumps are failure prone. We replaced a bunch of those when I worked at the dealer.

The 350 will not have the guts to easily tow a 12 foot trailer.
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#7
((when I first saw this topic.. my thought was "the one that goes to Your school.." just saying..))
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