A Crashed Step Van Escapes The Crusher By Becoming A Billboard
This Chevy P20 gains a second life advertising a driving school
Back in May of 2020 I stopped to check out a 1960s vintage step van repurposed as a semi permanent signpost for a driving school.
This appears to be a circa 1965 Chevrolet P20 'Stepvan' painted to advertise a local driving school. I can remember seeing this parked here for about as long as I can remember, a fact backed up by the lack of an area code in the phone number painted on the side.
Clearly this old step van has been stationary a very long time. The once bright teal paint has faded to a dull blue-green and the space under the vehicle is covered in debris. It's worth noting that it appears to have painted over windows in the rear and no side windows, confusing its history. If it were originally a delivery van, it probably wouldn't have had any windows in the rear at all.
There is remarkably little information out there about the P20 series of step vans. The best I can tell, it shares a chassis with the Chevy AK series trucks, much like the rare Chevy COE tow truck I documented not too long ago.
Some decaying tow trucks and other GM vehicles in need of a restoration
The differences between the 'forward control' and standard control GM truck chassis of this era are unclear from my internet research.
Evidently, this particular P20 had an accident at one point. Whether this was used as a mobile billboard and transportation before being crashed or whether it became a permanent billboard afterwards is a mystery. My bet is on it being used by the company until being crashed then placed here permanently. The paint looks like it was applied before the smash.
It must have been a reasonably bad accident to mess up the side this badly. Where the paint was rubbed off long ago now there's only rust. It's worth noting that the sign was hand painted, clearly with a decent degree of skill, which makes me think it dates no sooner than at least the early 90s, if not later.
I caught it right at the golden hour. There's something eerie about the sunlight filtering through the filthy glass of this rusting hulk.
Speaking of filthy glass, how has the windshield managed to gain these deeply embedded rust stains? Methinks water seepage into the cabin has not been kind to this vehicle. The old rubber seals probably gave up many years ago and the moisture it has let in has rusted every surface in the interior.
And taking up a good deal of the cabin thanks to its forward control design sits the doghouse, likely shielding some variety of Detroit straight six. The box above it with the vent is probably a heater of some description.
I took that photo through the cracked sliding door of course as that interior is seriously nasty. One detail that leapt out at me was this interesting large triangular speedometer. For an ancient commercial vehicle, it has a remarkably thorough complement of gauges. Though the glass was so filthy the needle isn't at all visible, leading me to believe the numbers may actually be painted on top of the glass, not under it.
I'll leave you with this final shot of the 'STEP-VAN' emblem the truck still proudly wears. I'm somewhat surprised it wasn't ever painted over but rather was carefully masked off every time it was painted through the years.
A version of this article went down with the SS Kinja when Oppo fled to our new home on the Hyphen. I'm rewriting a lot of old DOTS currently because I really have nothing new to report, being stuck within walking distance due to the whole not having my car with me thing.