1985 GMC Safari SLE 4.3 V6 from North America


Great vehicle and highly recommended.


Head gasket or cylinder head cracked after 244,000 miles and repair cost more than blue book value.

General Comments:

I am satisfied with performance, durability, and reliability of my 1985 GMC Safari SLE 4.3 V6 engine, 4 barrel carburetor. It will seat eight adult passengers comfortably with removable bench seats for carrying appliances, furniture, building material, and more. I have owned it since 1988 with 65,000 miles, rebuilt original engine after 188,000 miles bored 030 over after excessive smoking due to worn components. The transmission rebuilt after 127,000 miles. It currently has 244,000 miles, but the longevity has been due to consistent oil and filter changes @ 3,000 mile intervals, very important for any vehicle. My van has traveled from Ohio to Georgia, Florida, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Kentucky, Tennesse, and New York many times and never broke down, while many new vehicles failed and stranded. I have taken the hills of TN many times with family, friends, and full loads and it never got bogged down for lack of power with A/C running! This is one strong engine with plenty of passing power. Frigid Ohio winters presented no starting problems because many times I have jumped started newer vehicles.

I called my van “The White Hope” because it has white exterior and maroon interior, and was awesome in performance and the best I have owned. The interior held up, except headliner that I removed because it sagged. The body has very minimal rust and cosmetic damage, but you are looking at a vehicle that is 21 years old. I have nothing but praise and adoration for this vehicle. The only complaint I have is changing spark plugs due to lack of room to maneuver tools. Recently the head gasket has blown and the cost of repairs is more than the book value, otherwise I would get it fix, so it is time to lay her to rest finally because it has been a very faithful van and worthy of much praise. My children were surprised I am going to retire the van after 18+ years of excellent service. We have many enjoyable trips and pictures to remember this one of a kind great van and would recommend this model to anyone because of my personal experience. I could trust this van to carry anywhere in the USA and get me back home with much confidence. It is a true work horse in every respect! I will miss this van very much.


George (Columbus Ohio)

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 27th November, 2006

1985 GMC Safari from North America


Reliable cargo (and people) hauler


The transmission needed work after about 85,000 miles.

Someone cut in front of me at 105,000 miles; both cars were demolished.

General Comments:

The cargo and seating capacity was wonderful; you could haul a pool table in this thing. Owning one will make you popular, as everyone will ask you to give them rides (particularly to bars) and to haul their things.

Travel was smooth and comfortable thanks to the captain's chairs and the high seating position. I made several long drives between the Midwest and the East Coast and never grew uncomfortable.

Working underneath the car was also a blast thanks to the high clearance. The engine compartment, by contrast, was tight and hard to work in.

High winds would shove the van all over the road.

Pickup and speed were about average for such a pedestrian, suburban vehicle. Fuel economy was horrible. I dreaded the fuel stops even back when gas was a dollar a gallon.

I walked away from a 30MPH front collision with only whiplash. The damage to the van might have been repairable if the insurance company had chosen to do so.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? No

Review Date: 6th August, 2006

1985 GMC Safari SLE 4.3L from North America


Diehard work horse!


Headliner and seats were falling apart; sun damage and age.

Starter and battery had to be replaced at 120,000 Kilometers.

Heater core rotted out at 140,000 Kilometers.

Engine knock and blue smoke at 160,000 Kilometers.

General Comments:

4 barrel Rochester Quadra Jet carburetor gives me all the power I need.

Absolutely no rust, oil spraying for 17 years made my Safari rust proof.

GM painted my van right, the paint is still in good shape.

It`s a classic in 2 years and I will be restoring it.

The safari mini van is a diehard tank.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 7th August, 2002

1985 GMC Safari 3.? L from North America


I have over 250,000kms on my van and I only just recently replaced all the hoses and a signal bulb. I am beginning to see rear seal problems, but they are still minor so for a vehicle so run, she runs good.

General Comments:

I am the 3rd owner already but we all must have taken good care of this van because she runs good and I haven't had too many incidents with it. (other than just regular things to replace such as tires, light bulbs, oil, filters etc.)

Good vehicle.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 29th June, 1998

19th Sep 2001, 15:56

I started driving an '85 Safari last December with 145,000 miles on it. After repairing and replacing minor parts particularly the intake and exhaust system, but also brakes and belts. I am amazed at how well the vehicle handles is aligned and performs. I had the feeling during a pleasure drive that I was driving a new car. The biggest problem I have with it is the mechanism in the drivers seat is defective. I am looking for another seat, but I don't want to pay the four hundred dollars ask for in Georgia. I like your review enjoyed reading about our van and I will return to see if you have added new information. Thank you much, Coach.