As the 2016 campaign for president begins in public — after running in private for many months among those who will pay for it — the first high-profile venture by Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton was a multi-state road trip launched Sunday, one she would undertake in a van. Being car people, we and many others wondered: What kind of van?
That burning question was finally answered today: a Chevrolet Express conversion van, more specifically, the Chevy Express Explorer Limited SE, a kind of full-size living room on wheels that’s appropriately Midwestern for political use.
Caught by Bloomberg reporter Jennifer Epstein in Iowa, Clinton used the van to cover the 1,000-mile trip from her home in New York to Iowa for her first event Monday evening. Clinton said last year that it’s been years since she’s driven due to the security requirements of being a former First Lady/U.S. senator/Secretary of State, although she was able to order at Chipotle without causing an uproar.
In the hoary world of car-building politics, the Chevy van ticks the right boxes for a Democratic hopeful, who generally needs to be seen utilizing American-built machines assembled with union labor. While some reports had Clinton traveling in a minivan, there are no UAW-built minivans; the Chrysler Town & Country/Dodge Grand Caravans come from a factory in Canada, and the UAW hasn’t successfully organized the Japanese-owned plants that build the Toyota Sienna and Honda Odyssey. (The Nissan Quest is imported from Japan, so it’s even further out of contention.)
The Chevy Express is built by UAW workers in Wentzville, Mo., and customized by the Explorer Van company, a small family-owned business in Indiana. The 6-liter V-8 and six-speed transmission is stock, but Explorer will rework the interior to any specification, with everything from swivel, reclining seats to lighted cupholders. It’s not stylish or fuel efficient, but it’s perfect for those Chipotle meals on the go — whether you’re road tripping with the kids or trying to get elected.