1958 Grumman Aero Built Stepvan
This van has been in the Tucson area since 1958. It was "special order" built for Old Tucson Film Studio's as a camera mount vehicle (camera T-17) Started out as a rolling chassis with the special option "Napco" 4x4 package. The rolling chassis was put on a train to Athens NY, where at the Aero-Built plant (a division of Grumman Olson) the aluminum body was fabricated and installed. Then once again "railed" to Los Angeles this time where the frame was strengthened and camera mounting points were installed. A deck (which has mounts for awning coverage) and directors/camera seat mount on a twenty foot telescoping boom over the front axle. Had a large generator mounted inside in front of the passenger seat to supply power for lights and a 20 gallon Hydraulics Reservoir for the front camera boom. We've owned this van for 25 years and used it for our catering companies Off-Road Catering and Empire Mtn catering. Installed modular sinks -stove and shelves for the food service. Then later removed them, leaving the inside cleared and empty for camping and hauling cord wood ... Helping friends move their belongings and driving it around for general fun. It has 51K original miles on its stock Chevy straight 6 engine-high/low transfer case and 1957 Chevy truck dash (one of a kind) Also ... there are 16.5 36'x12' tires currently on this step van. It came stock w/19.5 "Bud" wheels and tires (which I still have). In the 70"s while this van/camera truck was in service at the Paramount "Old Tucson" studio's filming many westerns and other action scenes, the front Napco axle shattered and failed requiring a replacement axle. They temporarily installed a 1957 straight axle from another donor van to keep the camera van working. After an upgraded newer camera van was purchased they sold the 58 to a contractor who put it into storage where upon several years of attempts to purchase this van, the contractor sold it to me for $650.00 in 1990. I drove it around for a few years as my work truck and catering truck. Then I found a 1995 dodge 1-ton front "live" axle and had it installed, wow did that make the step van come back to a new life. I've taken it off road up over the top of a rough 5000ft mountain (Mt Fagan in Tucson AZ) and used it as a mobile kitchen with my former catering company (Off Road Catering) at the 10,000ft forest service ranger station "Columbine" atop of Mt Graham. The 58 definitely stands out and turns a lot of heads. Lots of fun to drive and is actually very light because of the aluminum constructed body and floors. Have plans to swap out the engine for a small diesel engine in the near future. Next time I will send a picture of my 1973 Olsen step van/ flatbed tractor (personal plate AZ Van/Truck) formally Frito Lay.