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WARN Fan Friday: The Lunchbox

Lunchbox 4WD Chevy Van

We love hearing from WARN Fans, especially when they show off their WARN-equipped rigs. Recently we heard from a gentleman named Steve Swain from Western Kentucky, and he had this to say:

If it wasn’t for that ZEON 12 mounted up-front, I’d NEVER make it through some of these trails. I end up using it almost every weekend, either for myself or pulling somebody else out. It’s been flawless, and pulls me up or out of EVERYTHING so far. It’s not easy following lifted/locked Jeeps around; [the winch] has been my saving grace.

We are flattered, Steve—thanks for your business! After seeing  a couple photos of his 4×4 van, we wanted to know more about this rig.

Chevy Van Winching

Steve calls the  Chevy van the Lunchbox. It is named after the 1980s Tamiya radio-controlled van on monster truck tires, which he had growing up. He always dreamed of having a full-size 4WD van, like the R/C version, so he built one. And as a filmmaker, he can wheel it by day and camp in  it at night. Plus, as he says, it’s something different.

Lunchbox started as an old 1987 2WD Chevrolet work van that he dragged out of a field. He stripped it down and built it up with parts from a low-mileage motorhome of all things. Everything from the doors forward went into the van. That includes the engine, harness, dash, a/c. heater, etc. He built crossmembers for the engine/transmission, suspension hangers, steering, driveshafts, etc. Steve says he literally turned every single nut and bolt with his own hands. You want to talk about “built not bought”?

Steve’s unique van features a Dana 60 up front, a 14-bolt rear axle, lockers front and rear, four-wheel disc brakes, long-travel leaf springs, and custom home-built bumpers. A TBI 350 V-8 sits in the engine bay and is mated to a built 700r4 with twin sticks. The van rides on 35-inch mud-terrain tires.

Building the 4WD van

“I literally built it in the driveway from the ground up. It’s worth mentioning that I’m no fabricator; just a shade tree mechanic,” says Steve. “I’m just a poor filmmaker chasing dreams!”

The Lunchbox going though the water

Steve says he built the Lunchbox to film an adventure show, where they’ll wheel the back country.

“The winch is a crucial part of us making it back safely. It’s proven to be a beast. I made some believers out of the ‘Harbor Freight crowd’ this last weekend; we’ll just say that!” he said.

Steve is a full-time single dad, and he and his son wheel Lunchbox regularly. It’s also his daily driver.

We think this is a great build, and it’s obvious Steve has put a lot of time and effort into creating this cool adventuremobile.

For a full build thread, check out The Lunchbox Build on Expedition Portal and follow him on Instagram at @lunchbox938.

Van going uphill


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