San Francisco Street Sighting - 1995 GMC G2500 Vandura
"I love it when a plan comes together."
Those were the trademark words uttered by Colonel John "Hannibal" Smith, leader of the ragtag group of ex-soldiers in the NBC TV show The A-Team. The cast of characters acted as benevolent mercenaries, helping people who needed the special kind of assistance a bunch of trained military men could provide. And they did it all in style, traveling the country in a very distinctive customized GMC van.
October 1 is actor George Peppard's birthday. Peppard played the cigar-smoking team leader Smith on the show, accompanied by Dirk Benedict, Dwight Schultz and Mr. T (Laurence Tureaud). Peppard's work in The A-Team is arguably his best-known role, so what better time to feature a replica of the iconic A-Team van than today?
The GMC Vandura was not inherently a special vehicle as delivered by the factory. It was a rebadge of the Chevrolet Van, an honest truck-based commercial vehicle available in cargo or passenger variants. The same body shell was used from 1971 until 1996! For A-Team duty, the prop department painted a 1983 Vandura cargo van black and metallic grey with a distinctive red kinked stripe leading up to a fiberglass wing on the roof. Fiberglass wheel arch flares, a front air dam, steel front grille guard and windshield sun visor were added for further visual impact. Fog lamps were mounted in the bull bar and auxiliary lights were installed on the roof. The last exterior modification was a set of 15-inch turbine wheels painted red and black, mounted on white-letter tires.
This van is a homebuilt replica of the A-Team van, made from a garden-variety white 1995 G2500 Vandura cargo van. There are a few discrepencies, such as the lack of extra lighting and the stock cargo van mirrors and chrome door handles (the TV vans had custom aerodynamic mirrors and body-color handles). The rear window slats are also not correct, though they are a relatively common addition on replicas. The paint job was slightly runny in places, but looked great from across the street. As it sits, you half expect Mr. T to walk out of the corner store and pity the fool standing there taking pictures of it.