EV Culture: 1991 GMC Electric Van hauls food for Laughing Planet restaurants in Reno

Audio: take a sound-rich ride in this vintage EV

Tim Healion and his 1991 GMC Rally/STX electric van - photo: Brian Bahouth/the Ally

When I think of electric vehicles, I think sleek, futuristic, quiet, fast. In stark aerodynamic and aural contrast to that notion is the 1991 GMC Rally/STX electric van that can be seen and heard plying the streets of Reno in service to a pair of Laughing Planet restaurants. The vehicle’s ungainly profile and distinctive mechanical whirr have been a curiosity, and recently, I finally got around to securing a ride.

Tim Healion is the general manager of the Laughing Planet locations in Reno and uses the EV van to haul food between the Midtown location and the restaurant at the University of Nevada Reno, a few miles across town.

Healion is a noted restauranteur who ran Deux Gros Nez, a funky and now legendary coffee shop and eatery in Midtown Reno from 1985 to 2006. Healion was a champion of healthy, sustainable food long before it became chic in Reno, and Deux Gros Nez has something of a living legacy.

No surprise that a former Deux Gros Nez employee went on to found the Laughing Planet chain of environmentally conscious restaurants based in Portland, Oregon. Healion was recruited to build and manage the Reno locations. With storefronts in Portland, Vancouver/Camas, Eugene, Bend, Corvallis, and Reno, the boutique chain of healthful fast food restaurants reflect Healion’s long-standing sense of social consciousness as expressed through well-prepared, locally-sourced food.

According to Healion, Laughing Planet constantly works to lighten its environmental footprint, and part of that effort is deployment of the sporty 1991 Rally/STX EV in Reno.

“We haven’t bought gas to run our errands at Laughing Planet in three or four years.,” Healion laughed.

To learn more about the vintage EV and Tim Healion’s motivations, I asked him to take me for a ride, and on Tuesday he stopped by my house, honked the horn, and I got in the passenger seat … listen …

A 1991 GMC Rally/STX eclectic van with 1-ton suspension, a half-ton of batteries and regenerative breaking that helps charge the battery – photo: Brian Bahouth/the Ally

Music credits as reported to the Public Radio Exchange, in order of appearance:

Song: Disrupter
Artist: Alex Cortiz
Album: Lo-Fi Explorations
Label: Vibin’ Grooves
Date: 2019
Duration: :28

Song: Session B
Artist: Alex Cortiz
Album: Lo-Fi Explorations
Label: Vibin’ Grooves
Date: 2019
Duration: 1:04

Song: Flex (Soul)
Artist: Alex Cortiz
Album: Lo-Fi Explorations
Label: Vibin’ Grooves
Date: 2019
Duration: :48

Song: Let the Storm In
Artist: Alex Cortiz
Album: Lo-Fi Explorations
Label: Vibin’ Grooves
Date: 2019
Duration: 1:38

Song:Spiral Chilla (Take Off One)
Artist: Alex Cortiz
Album: Lo-Fi Explorations
Label: Vibin’ Grooves
Date: 2019
Duration: :46