Saturday, December 27, 2014

0.5k: Luminescence: 1992 Chevrolet El Lumina

Update Dec 27, 2014: If you get the feeling of déjà vu when you see this El Lumina, you aren't the only one.  This repeat offender Rancherumina was offered back in March of this year for a staggering $4500 buy-it-now on eBay, but it is amazing how time heals all things...unless those things are a busted cylinder head and a broken spark plug.  In that case, time just drops the price a few more dollars.  Find this 1992 Chevrolet Lumina is offered for $500 in Daytona Beach, FL here on craigslist.  Tip from JB.

Original Post Mar 20, 2014: Hey there! Welcome back to Daily El Camino. You've probably seen a few pesky Mercedes and Volvo posts here and there, but we know the real reason you're here is to see automotive carnage for sale. Like this 1992 Chevy El Lumina currently bidding on ebay for $565 reserve not met ($4,500 BIN) located in Bunnell, FL.  Words by DT contributor slowcarSLOW-MPGlol.

Nothing quite announces "I have a toothbrush collection" like a Chevy Lumina. You're just holding onto something that was meant to be disposable. Most of these family haulers have been retired to junkyards (or junky yards) after a few hundred thousand miles of leaving oil stains at ice hockey rinks and youth group events. The ones that remain are reminders of what we thought the future would be like - a Porsche-911-Targa-in-reverse profile, composite plastic body panels, and red or blue interiors. Its quirkiness only obfuscated Chevy's van presence and by the late 90s, buyers just wanted a more powerful and conservatively styled van with a Chevy bowtie so they could show their UAW brother-in-law that they buy American.

The Lumina APV, as the van was called, sadly doesn't stand for All-Points Van but All-Purpose Van. This one comes with even more purposes. It stands out among other El Camino-ized creations by having a liftgate, and with a fairly deep bed that once held brake rotors, could do some decent hauling. With a 120-horsepower 3.1L V6, air conditioning, cruise control, and that cushy minivan ride, you could be better off in this than in a cab-forward Japanese mini truck.

Here's the most intriguing part of the listing: "One of five built." Yes, five of these rolling billboards once terrorized south Pennsylvania with assorted graphics and visual modifications. One was a six-wheeled monstrosity in blinding yellow and pink with chrome wheels. This blue-on-blue is a beige Corolla in comparison. It looks well-kept for its mileage, thanks to those rust-resistant body panels, and could enlighten a new generation to the otherwise forgettable Lumina name.

See another El Camino-ized car? We're not sick of them... yet. Email us at

slowcarSLOW-MPGlol knows how many licks it takes to reach the center of a Tootsie Pop, and he's not telling. As someone with a B+ blood type, he considers himself an optimist. Unless it has structural rust.


  1. Fleetwood T. BroughamMarch 20, 2014 at 8:26 AM

    Remember riding in these back in high school. Biggest.....dashboard....ever.

  2. I'm sure it turns heads.... But I'm not sure its for the right reasons!

  3. I guess breaking the plug off in the head must have traumatized the owner, because the more recent photos are awfully shaky.

    I still kind of like the profile look on this thing. The colour and the moon hubcaps help it. Not enough to want to tow it 2000 km home, though....

  4. Weren't these vans the ones that folded up like something straight out of the '60s in crash testing?

    1. The vans you are thinking of are the Chevy Astro vans. They crumpled up like paper being thrown into a trash can.

  5. Looks like something some kid would have doodled on his middle school notebook in the '70s for what an El Camino would look like in the 80's.

  6. I hate it when gearheads get all euro in their car references. So, please forgive me when I suggest that the Peugeot Expert Tepee (how's THAT for a name!?!) reminds me of the dearly departed Lumina APV.

    It's hard to argue that these GM people haulers were much good. But I think they were onto something and should have been followed up with something in the same vein. Personally, I'd love a smaller minivan that had a feature similar to Fiat-Chrysler's "Stow-n-go" with a low floor height. I don't subscribe to the bigger is better thinking that's been happening and that's why we have second gen Mazda MPV in our fleet. Both the APV and MPV had wheelbases around 110 inches, which was just perfect for us.

    We can't cry for GM too much though, because the U-platform lives on. Just not here. The gorgeous (for a minivan) Buick GL8 uses it and should be sold here in the States. Oh no, I pulled the euro snobbery card again. Sorry about that. The GL8 has a longer wheelbase, which would probably work better here anyway.

    I wish I could post a picture of the GL8, but I can't.

    1. You'd probably like the Opel Zafira too....if you don't mind going all Euro :)

    2. In fact, I do like the Zafira. I think it would have been a good vehicle for Subaru to offer here in the States, never having had a proper MPV. It wouldn't have sold, but still (clearly, I don't work for them because that would have been a stupid move). It's too bad 'Mericans don't like their 7-seater MPVs compact. All they'd have to do is jack them up, slap on some more plastic, call it a crossover and they'd have a sales hit!

    3. Having done some time in decade-old Zafira recently, best I can say is: it's a marvel of just-barely-acceptable-ness. It goes, stops, carries people and things.

      The little engine and weird gear ratios made every launch an adventure, especially when loaded (van, not me). Did I ever stall it? Yep. Em-freaking-barassing. Then did I over-rev all the freaking time? Yep.

      Interior plasticky. Just enough space. Just functional enough acceleration, handling, braking, ride, etc. etc.

      Getting back into my E39 540 was a revelation. I know that's a golden apples and moldy oranges comparison, but to have every function be about as good as it can be...

    4. Kaibeezy,

      Have you ever driven an OPC? I'd imagine that would be a better experience, but wouldn't know as they've never sold them here (other than the other vehicles related to the Astra). I'd also like to try one of the new 2.0 CDTI Bi-Turbo S/S models. 300 lb/ft in my minivan? Why, yes, thank you very much.

      I always thought the Delta platform had more potential than the Saturn Ion showcased. Turns out I was right (for once) - there are plenty of relatively successful cars based on that platform (ELR not being a shining example). In my opinion, the cars based on the Delta platform are some of the best "normal" cars in the snow out there, AWD or otherwise. Those things are nearly unstoppable unless the depth of the snow gets to be a problem.

    5. Re OPC, yeah, I can totally bet it would be. I'd like to read more. Can you recommend a source?

  7. You might start here.

    Here's a video walk around.

    The video claims it seats 6, not 7. Is that true, in your experience? If so, I'd be less interested in it, like the Mazda5.


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