Last Chevrolet Express 1500 Rolls Off the Line

Last Express 1500 2 II

If there has been a more versatile and functional platform in the auto industry, we've never seen it. Born at the Wentzville, Mo., production plant in 1996, the Chevrolet Express 1500 (and its twin, the GMC Savana) has been rolling off the line and into large and small businesses and households ever since. The total number produced is likely in mid-six digits, and we're likely to keep seeing these stalwart cargo and passenger haulers on the roads for decades to come.

According to our sources in the plant, the last Chevy Express 1500 rolled off the line midafternoon on July 7. GM has already announced that the Express will live on in the form of the 2500 and 3500 models, which are likely to continue to be popular with budget-conscious small-businesses and fleet buyers. There is a strong aftermarket industry ready to offer chassis modifications or interior storage for the heavier-duty platforms. However, the increased investment in new products from Ram Truck, Ford and even Nissan has made GM product planners nervous about the light-duty segment, so they've decided to leave the market for now. Of course, opening up more production capability for the coming all-new midsize pickups (the Chevy Colorado and GMC Canyon) is not lost on corporate bean counters either. And if the little trucks begin to take off, that extra capacity will likely offer much stronger profits on each vehicle sold.

Here are production line workers Brent Robinson (left) and Chuck Taylor (right) holding up a celebratory banner for the vehicles they've built these many years.

Manufacturer images

Last Express 1500 1 II



There goes the only AWD full size van anyone could buy for under 30K!

Quick question. Is this

Yes sad to see the last Express....

The design lines remind me of the GRACHTENGORDEL CANALS in AMSTERDAM or the POMBALINE in LISBON. the Chevy Express 1500 is to vehicles what the STRØGET in COPENHAGEN is to pedestrian shopping areas.

The beauty of the THE GRAND BAZAAR in Istanbul or the GALLERIA VITTORIO EMANUELE in Milan pale in comparison to the 1500. GM must have taken their design cues from the PLACE DES VOSGES in Paris or Machu Picchu!

Good bye old 1500 friend, now what will the UAW workers do...

Those guys look awfully happy that this is the last 1500 Van.

It's probably been recalled already.

Its a untibody design, the full size Chevy is better then the Ford Econoline.
The only weak spot in the Chevy is the transmission
The weak spots in the Ford Econoline are brakes and suspension where it still uses the twin I beam.
The Chevy V8 gets better gas mileage than the Ford 5.4 V8 but the 5.4 is a more reliable engine.
The Chevy the driver sits up higher having a better vision of the road.

If anybody is interested in truck news, Gm trucks are getting 8 speeds for 6.2l engine for 2015 other sites are reporting.

I've never been too impressed with the Express vans or their build quality. I can't even count how many I've seen that have peeling paint jobs or ones that are only a few years old and look about to fall apart.

How is an 8 speed going to help GM at this point? That should have been something launched with the '14 trucks.

As usual GM is late to the game.

The people who are familiar with them know they are not as good as what the fanboys say. If you like cramped footwells, rattles, a seat shoving you into the door, crappy fuel economy, poor interior, off-center (with the seat) steering wheel; this is the ultimate van to get. I would be looking at either the Transit or NV3500 (which still needs the Cummins diesel).

(How is an 8 speed going to help GM at this point?)


Let see it will improve fuel mileage, improve performance , If I recall right it will improve weight reduction as its ligther then the current 6 speed which again leads back to improve fuel mileage.

Is the 8 speed a little late? Maybe but they have been working on this trans for good while now to make it right from the get go.

GM, the new transmission delivers world-class shift times that rival the best dual-clutch designs.

(The all-new, GM-designed 8L90 eight-speed is expected to contribute up to 5-percent greater efficiency, when compared to the previous six-speed automatic

The transmission controller analyzes and executes commands 160 times per second. Wide-open throttle upshifts are executed up to eight-hundredths of a second quicker than those of the dual-clutch transmission offered in the Porsche 911.

With four gearsets and five clutches, creative packaging enables the new eight-speed automatic to fit the same space as the previous six-speed automatic. Extensive use of aluminum and magnesium make it more than eight pounds, or 4 kg, lighter than the six-speed. Design features that reduce friction contribute to the expected 5-percent greater efficiency.)

For the sake of GM’s customers, dealers, employees and the company’s future, the automaker must convince the American public it knows what it’s doing before a string of safety recall pulls it under.

At what point does the word “quagmire” become appropriate?

It’s bad enough to recall 2.6 million cars you built a decade ago, the compacts that led this circus into town. It gets worse when you reveal that a rogue engineer apparently circumvented all the automaker’s quality and safety protocols.

But when a seemingly similar problem discovered months later leads to the recall of millions more cars, including the Cadillac CTS sport sedan, the situation begins to look ridiculous.

“It leads you to ask, are there more shoes to drop?” Autotrader senior analyst Michelle Krebs said. “We thought the worst was behind GM. Now it’s hard to be sure.”

If an automaker can’t be trusted to get something as simple as an ignition key right, customers would be forgiven for asking, what they can do right?

Monday’s recall of 7.3 million U.S. cars for, you guessed it, “unintended ignition key rotation,” stole the wind from GM’s sails, shifting focus from its plan to compensate victims of the first set of bad ignition switches to the revelation of millions more defective cars.

The New York Stock Exchange considered it extreme enough to suspend trading in GM stock.

At this point, why and how this happened barely matters. Perhaps the delay diagnosing the original problem led to similar bad parts being accepted for other vehicles. Maybe it’s proof that parts suppliers were right when they said the incessant search for the lowest-price manufacturer in the least-developed nation would result in lousy quality. Maybe the auto industry’s rush to use modular systems and global platforms made it easier for a defective part to proliferate across several model lines.

GM needs to figure that out, but it really needs to show buyers it learned its lesson.

That requires more than mea culpas. I’ve seen GM’s best and brightest shaken by how wrong things went at what was once the world’s greatest engineering company. I heard CEO Mary Barra deliver a brutal assessment of the company’s culpability to employees around the world.

Sincerity is no longer enough.

We know GM means well. The question is whether it knows what it’s doing.

“GM’s job now is to show car buyers the mistakes it made in the past are not baked into the vehicles they’re making now,” senior analyst Bill Visnic said.

@johnny doe
If you're getting your information from a press release then of course it's meant to drop you jaw in awe. I will reserve judgement until I see real world performance tests and figures of their 8 speed compared to other 8 speeds.

HEMI MONSTER Just google GM 8 speed their more info out there then just that press release.

@all you guys who call yourself HEMI something

GM half ton trucks are outselling the Ram 1500 2 to 1 during 2014 year to date. We can only guess why.

@Papa Jim: cheaper prices, GM went back to their old ways of high incentives.

@johnny doe and papa jim
Why do you need to defend GM? If they were class leading, there would be no need to defend them?

GM has always had a high quantity of sales. That doesn't mean that they have the best products. One just needs to look at history to see that is indeed the case.

Ram has no need and no desire to outsell Ford or GM. They would not have the capacity to do so.

When you look at the sales of Chevy and GMC separately, neither outsells Ford and Chevy is struggling to stay on top of Ram. It's funny how GM guys will tell us that we can only look at combined sales sometimes and then when that approach doesn't work, they tell us we have to look at the sales of the 2 trucks separately. Well which one is it? Make up your mind.

@HEMI MONSTER (Why do you need to defend GM?)

Well for one I'm not, for two I was just answering you're question.

(How is an 8 speed going to help GM at this point?)

Which I told you how the 8 speed would help them and gave you some info about the new GM 8 speed.

@johnny doe
I read the information you have me. I didn't really see anything concrete said about it other than GM's explanation.

Like I said earlier, what GM says about it is one thing, but how it performs in the real world will determine whether or not it's a winner.

HEMI MONSTER I agree we still have not seen it in action or got to drive one yet so no one knows but the guys with the lucky jobs at GM that get to test these things.

@johnny doe
With Chrysler's 8 speed, we have a baseline to compare it against. Many people complained about Chrysler's old 5/6 speed and said the difference moving to the 8 speed was like night and day.

That is the reason I'm not expecting anything astounding from the GM 8 speed. There is already a high standard for GM's 8 speed to meet.

If it surpasses what Chrysler's 8 speed can do, then that's great, we need lots of competition in the market.

@Hemi, that ZF 8 speed is awesome from what I understand. Much better than the 9 speed that they put in the new Cherokee. Always quickly selecting the perfect gear. I'd love to drive the EcoDiesel 1500 with the ZF-8

Sad,now also in the USA more and more euro style cars, v8 only for the rich and for the masses turbo v6 and v 4 :-(

There is one big problem with the 8 speed for the 2015. I wait to the article on it to comment.

What makes you think V8's are affordable? V8 trucks can be had for $10k off msrp. In the F150 the 5.0l is way cheaper than Ecoboost.

^^^ meant to say "aren't affordable"


I didn't post this for any other reason other than it being news about a pickup truck. Just pointing out that this site is talking about vans while there is pickup truck news to report. Someone on this site has to keep the readers up to date.

I bet if it was a ford trans, it would have been posted.

This van was a favorite for the customized van manufacturers.

That wouldn't fall into the news category, it is more like a rumor. It was an exlusive on GMI because someone in the forum sent a picture to "ChevyRules" of an 8 speed order option - from where who knows? Looks official but the image could easily be made on any computer. The 2015 order guides are out and didn't say anything about an 8 speed option. This picture was shown yesterday so I don't see any reason for putc to report on a rumor.

I never put any money on what I read or hear from GMI. They guys there definitely know their stuff when it comes to GM vehicles, but when it comes to knowing about future products, they are absolutely clueless.

I can't count the number of things they have been wrong about. Even when all evidence points in another direction, it seems like whenever a rumor gets started, they run with it.

Nope, been full framed since 1996.

You got to love those old school headlights on the Express. They add to the "cheap" look of the Express.

Hemi Monster, you can get upgraded headlights on the higher models.

No kidding

@Alex - an Engineer explains both the 8 speed and 9 speed ZF transmissions on TTAC. Interesting stuff.

Thanks Lou, pretty much confirmed my theory, even though I haven't driven either of these trannies yet. Though the new Cherokee doesn't interest me the slightest. What surprised me about the 9 speed when watching videos, is when they floor it, 1st and 2nd seem about the same ratios as a 6 speed. So in acceleration tests, the 9 speed provides no benefit.


good question, but the point of the multi speed boxes having that many gears is the narrower gap between forward ratios. The narrower gap is a cheap way to gain extra leverage and FE. Smaller engines could do the work of bigger ones under heavy load.

@Papa Jim, I agree, but seems like the 9 speed didn't provide that benefit as it should have, whereas the 8 speed has a "perfect spread," according to Lou's link.


You mentioned that the 9 speed did not deliver special consideration because of an "acceleration" test.

Maybe a better measurement would be to evaluate these trucks by using an entire tank of fuel over a pre determined course including a variety of terrain and traffic conditions.

Use that same course to compare other trucks.

The better powertrain would shine in that kind of testing. A simple test of speed over a short course, measured for time (acceleration) may not show us everything that the 9 speed can do.

My own truck has an old school GM electronic 4sp auto that performs with nary a hiccup and gives me good mileage.

Bigger = more expensive.

No wonder they're smiling as they hold up that banner.


The 9 speed inherent to its design has a few big delays in downshifts. There isn't any way to engineer that out of the design. The 8 speed does not have that problem.

The only place I can see an 8 speed or 9 speed saving money on fuel is around town or any situation where the transmission has to work shifting.
Highway cruising, unless you are in mountainous and winding terrain usually means remaining in the tallest gear.

For those that like to lambast GM for their recalls, think about it this way...

Mary Barra faced a big and ugly recall. She had two choices.

1) Go ahead with the Cobalt recall and hope that was it.
2) Order a deep and wide probe within GM to seek out every potential issue within the company and its both past and present products, with an eye to getting every single possible recall event addressed before the dust had settled on the first one.

She went with option 2, which ensured that Ford, Chrysler and import fanboys would have something to poke GM for and which also ensured that instead of years of question about GM product quality, GM would take their lumps and move on.

That's what sound crisis response looks like and it's why every other automaker is also taking advantage of the recall news fatigue to get their own houses clean.

@ Mallthus - you make it sound like GM had a choice.

They had to clean house and change the corporate culture or go bankrupt once again.

I doubt that the "too big to fail" argument would work a second time around (who knows - it worked for Chrysler x 2).

GM is doing the right thing and this will make them a better and stronger company.


Euro vans again, here they come!

Tom#3: have you ever looked under a GM van? because I can tell you first hand, the 1/2 and 3/4-1t vans are ALL full frame! and are all fully boxed frame at that! Then you could say the bodies are uni=body just for the fact they are all welded together! But they do have separate frames under them.

Where is the redsign already?

I owned a 1500 AWD for several years, it is the best vehicle I have ever owned. I was planning on buying a new one this year and am very disappointed to learn it is no longer manufactured.
There is no other vehicle like it. I would and do trust that vehicle in snowy conditions over any 4x4 truck. It never left me down.
I'll hang on to this one as long as I can. Like they say nothing lasts forever.

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