I recently found myself browsing IIHS looking at crash tests of old cars, trying to find the worst ones (because I’m a sick, sick man). Then I found this: a Chevrolet Astro, a van dear to my heart— the setting of many road trips for our family of eight. But its crash test video is horrifying.
After our family moved to Fort Sill, Oklahoma in 1998, we were running into a bit of a problem. As I had just turned seven, and four of my five brothers were older than I, we were starting to outgrow our 1990 Plymouth Voyager.
So my parents went shopping.
I vividly remember hopping from dealership to dealership, sitting in vans, trying to figure out if anything out there could adequately swallow our family of eight. Then, in Douglas, Oklahoma, we came across a gold Chevy Astro van exactly like the one in the video above.
My parents bought the van, and it served us very well, with its 90-degree 4.3-liter V6 making it to 200,000 miles after driving our crew all through Europe (my dad was stationed in Bavaria after Fort Sill), and then all through the midwest (after Bavaria, we were stationed in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas). Here’s a picture of it just before we sold it (stuck in our front yard— don’t ask):
It was a great van. Or so I thought. Look at that crash test video! What was my dad thinking?! The van looks like a freaking accordion! And this picture ain’t any better, either! Think of the children!:
Okay, if I’m honest, other vans available at that time were possibly even more dangerous. Like the Pontiac Montana I remember my dad considering. I mean, just look at this piece of crap:
Honestly, it’s a wonder any of us pre-millennium folks are even alive; cars and vans back then were basically sardine cans on wheels.
But to my dad’s credit, even though he bought a total deathtrap that turns into an A-frame when it crashes, I read that somehow, the Chevy Astro made it to the top of the list of “least likely cars to die in,” an award it undoubtedly won from its predominant use as a cargo van or the fact that it was driven by slow-driving family men like my pops.
So I guess my dad did do okay, after all.