In The Current Year, new car lots are filled with family-friendly adventure vehicles. They’ve got lots of seats, lots of cladding, and some sort of system to drive all four wheels (even if it’s a lousy system like on the CR-V). But our Rare Ride comes from a time when family 4×4 options were much fewer in number. 1989 was a very different time for the adventuresome family buyer.
Enter Quigley, and the Chevrolet Beauville.
First we’ll talk Quigley. The company started out as a car dealership in Massachusetts, Bill Quigley Auto Sales, in 1966. The dealership added campers and trailers to its lot and started customizing vans in the early Seventies. Motor homes were next on the menu. The dealer’s relationship with GM grew stronger, and the genesis for extra-capable vans came in 1974 when Quigley first added a 4×4 system to a Chevrolet Van.
Quigley is still around today, customizing and adding four-wheel drive systems to GM, Ford, and Nissan vans. Their most recent product addition is a 4×4 Ford Transit. Now, on to Beauville.
Chevrolet first used the Beauville name in 1954, adding it to the wagon variant of the popular Bel Air family sedan. The trend didn’t last long; the last Beauville 210 wagon rolled off the assembly line in 1957. The name didn’t resurface until 1971, when it served as a trim level for Chevrolet’s “Van.”
Of course, the Van Chevrolet sold in 1971 was nearly the same one the company sold in 1995. For a full 24 years, the third-generation Chevrolet Van rolled out of factories in Lordstown, Ohio, Flint, Michigan, and Scarborough, Ontario (which is a part of Downtown Canada).
The third-generation Van marked a departure for Chevrolet, as the first and second generations of 1964 and ’67, respectively, were of the mid-engine and forward control variety. Those were called Handi-Van and Handi-Bus by GMC, and Sportvan by Chevrolet. The more modern front-engine, rear-drive layout was based on the long-lived C/K truck platform. Trims had names like Bonaventure, Nomad, Bonanza, and of course Beauville.
Engines ranged from a thrifty-ish 4.1-liter inline-six through a thirsty 7.4-liter gasoline V8, with a couple of diesels in between. Transmissions were of three- or four-speed manual or automatic variety.
The buyer of today’s Rare Ride went with a luxurious Beauville trim for the basis of their van. With a Chevrolet 350 and four-speed automatic to shift all the tweed and curtains, extra capability was added via the Quigley 4×4 conversion — at a cost of $10,000. Original deep-dish wheels compliment the tidy blue and gray two-tone theme. With 78,000 miles on the clock, this go-anywhere family van asks $14,500.