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Wednesday, April 16

The American Man Gets a New Van - and F'd in the Can




Vans do lots of stuff. Or, at least, they carry lots of stuff. Stuff usually weighs a lot - tools, parts for other stuff, ladders to reach stuff up high. And, since the Eurostar and the Astro van met their doom, the van man has had to buy pickup trucks and camper shells.

With Ford killing off the Crown Victory Cop Killer, it means that anything big, like vans, with a V8 has to be replaced by something less big with smaller engines. A lot of car companies would get clever and base something on a Mustang. Instead, they're bringing the European Transit Connect to van-hungry Americans. But are repairmen, plumbers and deliverers or heavy stuff going to rush out to get this Eurovan?

Probably not. The Connect is Front-Wheel Drive (FWD). Even with a relatively-torquish, 1.8L Diesel, the idea of merging onto a freeway with a washing machine, compressors, socket wrenches and replacement washing machine motors on-board doesn't sound likely. Sure, the Europeans can carry their cheese, flowers and impressionist paintings around round-abouts and narrow city streets in Barcelona, Nice and Stafordshire - but the American van man needs rear-wheel drive and and triple-digit horsepower. In other words, if you see this van arockin' - actually, you just won't see this van doing much. Not anything that an HHR sedan delivery can't do while looking cooler.

So, as gas prices keep climbing, expect to pay much more for all your van-man needs, since he'll keep driving his pickup, waiting for someone to sell him a real, mid-size van.