Glaval, a conversion company that is no longer in business, installed their Gladiator conversion package a couple of years after the van was manufactured. Aside from the exterior trim work, the Gladiator package also consists of a raised roof (also known as a hi-top conversion) which adds additional headroom in the middle and rear of the van. The interior package is finished in wood trim and features a built-in media center. The 13" tube television and VCR would have been awesome 10+ years ago when they were new but are grossly outdated at this point.
After taking care of a few maintenance issues and giving the van a thorough cleaning inside and out, I knew I wanted to tackle the dated TV / VCR setup. My primary goal was to have access to an MP3 collection, either via my iPhone or an MP3 server of sorts.
I could have easily left the TV / VCR in place, replaced the factory radio with a head unit featuring an auxiliary port and run a cable from the front of the van to the middle / back where I ride. The problem with this idea is that the TV / VCR is still installed and looks dated, has very limited playback and the video cable connecting the two was damaged, resulting in a shoddy picture on the screen at times.
I mulled over multiple options for nearly a week before deciding that I wanted to install a PC in place of the current setup. A computer would allow me to add all of my MP3s as well as replace the unsightly TV / VCR combo. The PC would open up nearly all types of digital video formats as well which would certainly come in handy for passengers during a road trip.
With a solid plan in order, I still had to figure out how to physically install a computer in the vehicle and decide what hardware to use. Continue on as we tackle this project head-on!