They have a point. If the Hummer is back, why not this versatile rear- or all-wheel-drive van that Chevrolet built from 1985 to 2005? With cupholders this time?
In its first week, a new Change.org petition to bring back the Chevrolet Astro has received more than 400 signatures, which the organizers know is not enough to get GM to restart production.
Quixotic? Definitely. But they have a point: There are plenty of reasons to make a new front-engine, rear-wheel-drive van for today's outdoor enthusiasts.
With GM reviving the Hummer brand as an all-electric utility vehicle, perhaps a new Astro isn't that farfetched.
You might find #VanLife popping up in your Instagram feed now and again, but a growing group of Chevy Astro fans want it to be more like #NineVanLives. An online petition from two Astro enthusiasts, complete with a fake new Astro commercial that's full of '80s video special effects alongside some very un-'80s drone and action-cam footage, is calling on GM to bring the Astro van back to production.
Django Greenblatt-Seay, one of the petition organizers, is an unabashed Astro van fan—"My only goal in life is to get General Motors to bring back the Astro," he says—and his Change.org petition proves he's not alone. As of this writing, 453 people have signed the "Bring Back the Astro Van" petition.
That's a tiny fraction of the people who purchased an Astro van during the two decades that GM sold the Astro and its sibling, the GMC Safari van. The vans were built across two generations from 1985 to 2005. About 3.2 million units were sold back in the day, but the ones that remain on the used market are not enough to meet demand in 2020, Greenblatt-Seay says, noting that there's a gap in the market for mid-size vans with all-wheel drive.
"Everyone who has owned an Astro knows how versatile they are, and there's nothing available right now that can do what it can in such a small package," Greenblatt-Seay told Car and Driver. "For people who love camping like Brian [co-petition organizer Brian Ayers] and I do, we can turn them into campers for pennies on the dollar. We need new vans so that two or three years from now, creative, adventurous people will be able to find an affordable mid-size all-wheel-drive van with low miles."
Ayers told C/D that finding an Astro in good condition takes a lot of effort these days. "We look all over the place for them," he said. "Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, and Django and I occasionally scour the used-car lots in Omaha looking for them, but they're not easy to locate anymore. Even though they haven't been in production for 15 years, there's been a next generation of owners that continues to discover everything an Astro can do."
The Astro started out as a front-engine, rear-wheel-drive vehicle, with all-wheel drive becoming an option in 1990. The van's simple, classic box shape has been popular with outdoor adventurers who like to customize their rigs with sleeping and cooking spaces. They find the Astro to be a convenient way to get out into remote areas while still keeping some of the creature comforts of RV-ing.
Ayers said he understands that the Bring Back the Astro campaign has a long way to go, but he remains confident. "We know it's going to take a lot more than 400 signatures for GM to take notice," he said. "What the magic number is, we don't know. But we do think there are enough of us out there to get GM's attention." GM did not respond to C/D's request for comment on the petition.
Should a revival actually happen, Ayers and Greenblatt-Seay don't want GM just to sell the same old Astro again. A few updates would be welcome, the petition says: "Since we're here, let's do it with more accessible spark plugs and universally sized drink holders, please."