You may have noticed in your own neighborhood that the iconic postal vehicle of the 1980s is being joined by the 2016 Ram ProMaster van.
The older, workhorse vehicles so commonly seen on the road were christened in 1986 as Long Life Vehicles (LLVs) because the United States Postal Service (USPS) expected them to provide at least 20 years of service.
In an article posted on the website of the Smithsonian National Postal Museum, the last LLV came off the line in 1987. That’s pushing 30 years, and God knows how many are still in service today.
Through brutal proving grounds in Laredo, Texas in 1985, three OEMs made the final cut and competed for the coveted postal contract: American Motors, Grumman and General Motors and Poveco (Fruehauf & General Automotive Corp.).
Following 24,000 miles of tough road testing, which included traveling through cavernous, man-made potholes, Grumman and GM emerged with an approximate $1.1 billion order for 99,150 LLVs, making it the largest order of vehicles the postal service had ever placed.
The deal struck with Ram, announced in September of last year, will add 9,113 2016 ProMaster 2500 cargo vans by the end of next month to a fleet comprised of roughly 215,000 vehicles. The ProMasters are intended to replace older mini-vans—not the LLVs.
More of the ProMaster vans continue to be delivered across the country, including Panama City, Fla., where the main post office on Sherman Avenue allowed Hard Working Trucks to take a closer look.
One of the perks? Air conditioning. Many postal vehicles don’t feature that creature comfort, but the ProMaster has got plenty of air to spare on those steamy days when it matters most.
The high roof, unibody van features a 159-inch wheelbase and is powered by a 280-hp 3.6-liter Pentastar gas V6 that churns out 260 lb.-ft. of torque. A six-speed automatic transmission keeps the front wheel drive rolling along on Nexen tires.
In the cargo area, aluminum Ranger shelves feature hydraulic lifts that allow the shelves to be easily folded up out of the way to make room for large boxes.
A back-up camera displays an image on a screen that’s mounted in place of a rear-view mirror. USB power ports in the cab allow for easy charging. A fold-down seat is mounted on the cab wall next to the right door, allowing room for one passenger.
Check out the photos below for a closer look. Special thanks to USPS of Panama City for allowing Hard Working Trucks to take plenty of pictures.