Sold After Auction
| Highland Park, Illinois
- One-of-a-kind, late-Seventies design study showcasing AMC’s vision of a new breed of automobiles
- Preserved in original show condition as part of a well-known concept-car collection for the past 35 years
- Created as a rolling, wood-framed, fiberglass-bodied styling buck with a partial interior and no drivetrain
- A rare opportunity for a serious collection or museum to lay claim of owning a historically significant concept car from one of the most storied American automakers
One of the most compelling American concept cars of the late 1970s, the AM Van was part of a larger effort by American Motors Corporation to bolster its image as an innovator during a period of social, economic, and political turbulence. In the wake of the oil crisis of 1973, company chairman Roy Chapin, Jr. sought to put AMC at the forefront of what he saw as a growing trend in which Americans would increasingly seek out smaller, more fuel-efficient vehicles, so long as they offered the appropriate style, comfort, and amenities.
To showcase the company’s progressive ideas for the coming decade, AMC’s design department, then led by Richard Teague—creator of the AMX, Javelin, Jeep Cherokee, and other popular designs—developed six concept cars to be touted on a 1977 North American press tour, dubbed “Concept 80,” through seven major cities. The design studies included several compact hatchbacks, a scaled-down Jeep reminiscent of a Willys, a diminutive electric car with Buck Rogers aesthetics, and the AM Van offered here.
The most popular of all, favored in exit polls by a notable margin, was the AM Van. With its flared fenders, deep, front air dam, large side pipes, and gorgeous wide wheels wrapped in meaty tires, it gave off distinctly futuristic muscle-car vibes. Being purely a design study, the AM Van was essentially a wood-framed, fiberglass-bodied styling buck with no drivetrain, non-functioning doors, and tinted windows concealing a partially completed interior. In concept, it was a compact yet spacious vehicle, designed to seat three across with a generous greenhouse offering expansive views for all occupants. A four-wheel-drive powertrain would deliver all-condition versatility, while turbo badges hinted at the potential for a small but potent engine. Though the AM Van concept never made it to production, its popularity on the Concept 80 circuit unwittingly foreshadowed the mass adoption of minivans and four-wheel drive in years to come. As such, it is truly a unique piece of automotive history.
Believed to be the only one of its kind, the AM Van offered here has been preserved in a well-known concept-car collection for the past 35 years and remains in original condition, just as it left the AMC design studio in 1977. Given its compelling design and historical significance, it has been featured as the centerpiece of multiple museums in recent years, including the Gilmore Museum and the AMC display at the Kenosha County Historical Society. This AM Van design study represents a rare opportunity for a private collector or museum to own a historically significant concept car from one of the most storied American automakers.