2000 GMC Safari AWD Hightop - Campervan Conversion | Project Recap


Very cool! I've got a '96 Safari AWD Conversion that will eventually be built in this vein. I bought mine brand new and paid $24k for it! :sombrero:


Expedition Leader
One of my favorites. Thanks for expending the effort to post the photos and descriptions of your work. I've enjoyed seeing the Astro transformed.

Recommended books for Overlanding

Overlanding the Americas: La Lucha
by Mr Graeme Robert Bell
From $20
Into Africa
by Sam Manicom
From $26.43
Overlanders' Handbook: Worldwide route and planning guide...
by Chris Scott
From $23.82
Tortillas to Totems (Every day an Adventure Book 4)
by Sam Manicom
From $9.99


One of my favorites. Thanks for expending the effort to post the photos and descriptions of your work. I've enjoyed seeing the Astro transformed.
Thats for the positive feedback everybody. It was a pain getting this all uploaded, but not it's here to stay. It's nice to find your old projects on the web years later...

Awesome build! Very similar to the '97 AWD hi-top conversion Astro I'm building right here in PDX as well.

What hitch did you wind up with enough capacity for the dirt bike and carrier? If you don't pump up your air shocks, how much does the rear end sag with the dirt bike on the carrier?
Hey cool, I don't see many of these hi top's around town. That hitch I got from the junk yard for like $20. It's a big heavy duty Class III hitch, so it's plenty strong for the dirt bike carrier, here's a picture of it. As for the air shocks, If I put a load in the van and a bike on the back, I have to pump the shocks up to damn near 100lbs. Max is 120lbs, so in hindsight I might have looked for a different solution, but I really don't know what.

Good luck with your build!


New member
The high tops are rare in these parts! I definitely paid more for mine than you did too... but oh well, gotta jump on those things sometimes.

That looks like my hitch that the PO installed - 3 bolts in tension per side, no bolts in shear (in reality, the friction between the hitch and frame provide the support, not the bolts in shear) like the Class III hitch on my Tacoma has. Have the paperwork for my Astro hitch and it was rated at 300lbs which made me question the ability to hold a dirt bike with a cantilevered hitch rack. but if yours will hold and XR, I'm sure mine will hold an XT225 dinghy. My XR650L will be reserved for trailer duty.

You experience with the air shocks is good for me to hear. I have HD Astro springs on order right now. They won't provide much if any lift but should support the motorcycle or 4-mountain bike rack much better. a shackle lift may provide a few extra inches in the future. Thought about the S10 HD springs, but would have wound up with 5in of lift and that's too much for me.

Enjoy Alaska. Mine will head south to Baja. Happy Trails.


Rendezvous Conspirator
Absolutely stellar work!

I'm late to the party as I've been off ExPo lately, but I LOVE your level of research detail and documentation. Subscribing for any future updates, and I'll be back to review!


Very nice work, I applaud your creative efforts. I had a 2003 AWD Safari that I camperized, but not to the degree that you have.

A few things I learned while I owned my Safari...

As you've noted, the transfer case is a weak point, especially the encoder motor. The Dorman encoder motors are not as reliable as the OEM version but much less expensive of course. I kept a spare encoder motor with me; as you know, they're easy to swap out.

If you haven't already you should probably change the fluid in the transfer case. Replace it with ACDelco AutoTrak II, do not use anything else or any additives. The fluid controls the friction between the clutch plates in the transfer case and does wear out over time.

Finally, if you continue to have transfer case issues, try replacing the transfer case control module (TCCM). It's found in the driver's side footwell behind the emergency brake pedal.

The 4.3L Vortec V6 is a pretty good engine, but does have a few weak points as well. Worst is that the gasket between the intake manifold and the heads will fail, allowing coolant to leak into the cylinders and contaminate the oil. If you don't catch this quickly the oil is diluted and leads to engine failure.

Enjoy it, I miss mine.


Autodidactic Conversion
Hey, I have almost the same conversion van, I'm wondering if you got any usability out of the heater/ac (?) behind the rear left wheel. I have almost the same unit and am uncertain about how to utilize it. Most the accessory buttons were detached or removed before i bought the vehicle but I would love to use it.



Just starting on my build, completely new to it all, and not much of a fabricator.

Question- Which ARB bumper is that? I'm trying to find something for my Astro project that's an easy mod. I heard Taco (Tacoma) bumpers work, but not sure.