Big Yellow for Sale

Big Yellow - 1988 Chevy P30 Step Van Camper Van Conversion

Asking Price: $3,500

Are you looking for a winter project? Look no further. Need a storage unit or workshop but don’t want to travel to use it? Park this outside of your home. Have a lot of friends wanting to crash on your couch? Direct them to your new “guest room.”

This step van served as our full-time home for almost 2 years here in Brooklyn. It allowed us to see new neighborhoods, avoid shady landlords, and explore more of what this lively city has to offer. Now we’ve moved on to Van 2.0, and Big Yellow needs a new owner.

Big Yellow started as a USPS mail truck in 1988, then graduated to DHL (hence the yellow). It was taken out of retirement to be a work vehicle for a Biodiesel company, and finally a food truck attempt that never came to fruition. We bought, cleaned, and built out Big Yellow in Colorado and then hit the road for NYC. It’s been here for 2 years now and has the graffiti to prove it. 

The van does need some work to be brought back up to snuff, but it is working sufficiently well as is. Someone handy could quickly turn this back into the bad ass camper that it was when we first finished it.

Technical/build-out Details:
  • Unknown miles*
  • 6.0 liter diesel V8
  • Original sliding door that separates the cab from the living area
  • Custom double door that replaced the rear roll-top door
  • Stationary bed with 'garage' underneath**
  • Built in shelving
  • Bench with tool storage underneath
  • Collapsible table
  • Hanging clothes rack
  • 2 USB and 12V combo outlets
  • LED lighting on a dimmer
  • 1000w AC power inverted
  • 100aH AGM battery
  • 40A Renogy solar charge controller
  • 2x 100W Suaoki flexible solar panels, which are also hooked up to the van battery to prevent it from dying
  • Carbon monoxide detector
  • 2x Fantastic Fans, one configured to blow out, and one in
  • A spot for a Lugableloo portable toilet or something similar (used toilet not included)
  • A massive 6' x 3' acrylic skylight (for better or worse); it's cracked but awesome and allows for natural sunlight***
  • Aside from the skylight, the van is well insulated with 2" of rigid foam insulation on the floor, ceiling, and all walls.
  • Dickinson solid fuel heater (wood + coal burning), wall-mounted, coal included
  • Coleman 2 burner camping stove
  • Window mount AC unit (for a house, which we used while parked on a lot for a few months)
  • Digital car rear view monitor (uninstalled)
  • Haines manuals

Mechanical Things That Need Attention:
Though we were living in Big Yellow and driving it everyday prior to moving out of it, we did elect to purchase a new van for a reason. The van is drivable and in sufficient condition as is, but someone with space and mechanical know how should give the vehicle a good once over. The following needs attention:
  • The front end suspension is quite warn. At around town speeds it manageable, but at higher speeds it wanders a lot in its lane. Ball joints, tie rod ends, and other linkages should all be examined and probably replaced.
  • There is an electrical gremlin that is both preventing many of the gauges in the instrument cluster from working correctly, and also slowly drains the battery when parked. We currently have some jumper cables connecting the house battery and the two starter batteries to allow the solar system to keep the van topped off. Someone should go through with a wiring diagram and sort it out.
  • The van smokes a bit when started from cold. Very common in these old diesels, but it would be a good idea to start sourcing an injection pump or a more suitable engine. We would like to reiterate that it does start and run just fine as is, but if you plan on taking this on long journeys you should plan on upgrading it.
  • The heater fan recently started smoking and ceased to work. As such I would recommend it be replaced before a new owner attempts to take it a long distance where they might need the window defrosted.
  • The key only works on the driver's side door.
  • I would change the oil before driving a long distance. 
  • There is an included wireless backup camera that should be installed to make this easier to park.

#Vanlife Things That Need Attention:
  • Our favorite feature, the large beautiful skylight that provides tons of natural light, while also maintaining stealth mode, has cracked and started leaking. The mistake we made when installing the skylight was screwing it in, creating concentrated stress points. We've since discovered Sikaflex, an industrial grade adhesive invented as an alternative to welding in the automotive industry and very popular in the marine industry to installing port holes and windows. To fix properly, the skylight should be removed (screws), the old sealant should be scraped and cleaned, and a new window (uncut 6' x 3' sheet of 1/4" acrylic from Home Depot ($139)) should be installed using only Sikaflex. However, the leak could be temporarily fixed by sealing the edges with RV self leveling lap sealant and seam tape (both of which are included with the van).
  • Once the skylight is fixed there is some mild to moderate water damage around the skylight. This could be temporarily fixed with bleach to kill of the mildew, and some paint to make it look nice again (although it doesn't look terrible as is). To properly fix, it is possible to remove the 1/4" birch plywood panels and replace them.
  • There is an included 4" memory foam mattress that has been cut to fit the bed, but it is slightly water damaged from the skylight and should be replaced. 
  • The lights are controlled by a dimmer that's tucked in the corner by the solar charge controller. We intended on adding a switch right by the door, but never got around to it, so it's kind of annoying getting to the switch in the dark.
The ideal new owner of Big Yellow:
We really want to see Big Yellow go to a great new home. This van isn't for everyone. It's not the best on gas as is. It's not the easiest to drive. It does need some attention to be really great again. The ideal owner:
  • Loves #vanlife
  • Has some space and some time to:
    • Fix the skylight
    • Fix the water damage
    • Paint over the graffiti
    • Fix the suspension
    • Find and kill the electrical gremlin
  • We would love to see the next owner put a newer chevy 350 engine in it. The naturally aspired V8 diesel (though reliable) is pretty slow.

We’re selling this as-is (in running condition), since we now have a new van project and don’t have the time to dedicate to fixing this one up. Test drives are for serious inquiries only, mainly because of NYC parking logistics. Call, text, or email for further details. 

View from front facing back.

Bamboo containers included

Bench with table stowed

Bench with table out

The "closet" + heater

Solar power-related hardware behind the clothes rack

Aluminum door separating the cab from the living area

6' x 3' skylight

Cozy vibes at night