How to tell the true age of that Astro
It seems many Chevrolet Astros and GMC Safari's are being registered incorrectly when imported into the UK from Japan. (In fact this goes for any American vehicle being imported from Japan or any other country other than its original country of first registration)
So for example that super cheap 1996 astro turns out to be a manufactured in 1994 and had been used and registered in the USA before exporting to Japan so not a genuine P reg but a M reg if registered declaring its true manufacture date
To put it into simple terms, When a vehicle comes into the UK it has what we call a de registration document
EXAMPLE OF A DE-REG DOCUMENT BELOW
This shows the date the vehicle was first registered in Japan and is used and filed by the DVLA to put an age related plate on the vehicle.
However if the vehicle was not new when registered in Japan it should be declared to the DVLA at time of registration and they will inspect the plate on the vehicle and plate accordingly
So for example a vehicle built 01/06/1995 (Should be a M plate) and used in the USA for say exactly a year before being exported to Japan, would show on the de-reg document as first registered 01/06/96 (N plate)
The way to find out its true build date and model year is inside the drivers door, this can be on the inside of the door itself or on the frame where the door latch is.
The build date is always in the top right corner, these tags do not fall off or fade as a rule so if its missing or unreadable its likely to have been removed or defaced on purpose
EXAMPLES OF THE TAG BELOW
you can also type the Chassis number (found in the windscreen drive side) into the free check at
This will show you the make and model along with assembly date, if there is records against the chassis number it maybe worth while paying for a detailed report, if its only one or two don't bother as it will only be export records
It is normal for the build date and first registration date to be out by anything up to 5-6 months as this is often the time taken at the dayvan conversion company e.g Starcraft, Explorer, American Road, etc who hand fit the leather, wood interior lighting and sound installation.
But anything over this would mean it was not first registered in Japan and was imported there as a used vehicle.
Very often on E-bay I see this happening especially noticable when its the old dash example being declared as a early to mid 96 onwards, from approx feb-march 1996 the Astro and Safari received an interior face lift which included a very noticable curved dash with twin air bags apposed to the pre 96 flat dash with the single driver air bag.
The worst I've seen on E-bay was a flat dash example (pre 96) as an S reg and it was selling at a price which reflected it has being a genuine S plated vehicle when in fact the newest it could have possibly have been is N reg, this maybe fine now but when it comes to selling enthusiasts will spot this instantly and know the vehicle is worth a lot less money.
Last year at Americana at Newark we saw a shocking example registered as a W reg but flat dash example again meaning it could be no newer than a N reg
THE ABOVE WILL HELP YOU AVOID PAYING OVER THE ODDS FOR A INCORRECTLY REGISTERED AMERICAN VEHICLE OR AT LEAST GIVE YOU AMMO TO NEGOTIATE THE PRICE