Reduce, Reuse, Recycle: Old Mail Trucks Should Be Converted, Not Crushed
Tens of thousands of mail trucks (Grumman LLVs) are soon to be scrapped. Here are some ideas on what we could do with them.
To most mail carriers, I guess it’s good riddance to the trusty Grumman LLV. Made from 1982 to 1994, the Long Life Vehicle’s iconic shape has been delivering junk mail and Christmas cards from your pretentious aunt more than ten years past the vehicle’s end-of-life intention. Now there’s a new mail truck on its way… so what will become of the thousands of LLVs suddenly out of a job? Apparently, the most socially acceptable solution is to send them all to the crusher. That’s a damn shame, the LLV could make a great base for a series of crappy-yet-charming vehicles.
Almost 100,000 LLVs were ordered by the USPS decades ago, and plenty of them are still roaming America. Surely, not all of them have to get thrown in a landfill. Here are a couple of quick sketches I’ve dreamed up for you at the instance of my editor.
The Halo-Halo Truck
I feel like there’s an unspoken trope that any oddly shaped commercial vehicle has to sell overpriced and probably burnt coffee or ice cream sold in pretentious flavors. Screw that. I’m tired of festivals full of smarmy 30 something selling $5 espresso shots, or $8 scoops of rosehip and starfruit-flavored ice cream. Halo-Halo out of the back of a Grumman LLV? Elite.
Halo-Halo, which roughly translates to mix-mix from Tagalog, is a mixed ice dessert, full of all kinds of goodness. It starts with flan, jello, cereal, nuts, sweet red beans, and more, which are all added into a cup full of shaved ice, which is then topped with Taro flavored ice cream and sweetened condensed milk. Halo Halo is mostly just assembling ingredients, no expansive cookware that can’t fit in the LLV’s short cargo body.
The stealth, and not-so-stealth Van Life campers
Van lifers tend to go two different ways, with either stealth (just looking like a van) or the explicitly not-stealth (looking like a survivalist movie prop) vehicle. Stealth van lifers want their mobile domiciles to look as close to a normal van as possible. Exterior modifications are intentionally conspicuous, not meant to be seen by any normal person. Stealth van lifers can park anywhere, with the goal of never being harassed by authorities, and the general public. The other guy? Yeah, he wants everyone to know that his van is a real house, so it’s got kooky real house finishes on it. Like siding. And a front door.
The LLV is tiny. Maybe creating a full-length queen-sized bed wouldn’t be the easiest undertaking, but plenty of folks have made van life work in small packages. Like this guy who has been living in Canada in a short-wheelbase Chevy Uplander.
The Wine Truck
I don’t have any real explanation for this. I thought the LLV would be cute with some fiberglass grapes on the back of it. Isn’t it cute? I think it could be a wine delivery service, I don’t know.
Sure, in standard guise, the 90-ish horsepower, three-speed automatic, and RWD aren’t off-road ready, but it’s a Chevy S-10 Blazer underneath. In theory, the LLV should be able to accommodate the pages and acres of S-10 Blazer parts. Rip that Iron duke out, and install the trusty GM 4.3 Vortec. Add a lift kit, transmission, and transfer case from a lifted S-10, and then you’d have a reliable, yet off-kilter overlander mail truck ready to chase down those guys in their expensive Monteros and Land Cruisers.
In all seriousness, the LLVs shouldn’t all be crushed, they’re too much a part of American history. We all know the powertrain is an old, polluting mess, but it could easily be ripped out and replaced with a number of more efficient EV, gas, diesel, or other methods of propulsion. The LLV is crap, but it’s our crap. It’s the closest thing we Americans have to a unique commercial vehicle, in the same vein as a Kei van in Japan or a Citroen HY in France. C’mon USPS, let us save a couple. Please?
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