Although concept cars, by their nature, are almost all interesting, some stand out a bit more than others – like this 1977 AM Van Concept.
Part of a series of concept vehicles branded under the Concept 80 moniker for AMC, the series was intended by chairman Roy Chapin Jr. to appeal to Americans’ increasing desire for small, fuel-efficient vehicles that offered style and comfort.
AMC’s design department, led by Richard Teague – the creator of the AMX, the Javelin, the Jeep Cherokee, and others – developed six concept cars that toured America. Included in Concept 80 were compact hatchbacks, a scaled-down Jeep, a tiny electric car, and the AM Van, which was, according to numerous exit polls, the most popular of the bunch.
The design was intended to feature a muscle car aesthetic that I think shares its comic book proportions with the Meyers Manx. Big, wide wheels hint at the four-wheel-drive that this vehicle was supposed to get, and the shiny, chrome exhaust pipes and “Turbo” lettering hint at the powerful but efficient motor that was supposed to power it.
As a concept car, though, it didn’t really get many of those features. It was a wood-framed buck with a fiberglass body, no drivetrain or functioning doors, and not much interior to speak of, so you won’t be racing down the street if you choose to buy this piece of history. The concept may have not been driven, but it has been featured in several museums in recent years, including the Gilmore Museum and the Kenosha County Historical Society.
Thought to be the only one of its kind, its lifetime of being on display means that it’s in pretty good condition, considering its age. Photos from the auction house, RM Sotheby’s, do, however, show some cracking in the fiberglass. The car will be auctioned off at the Sand Lots auction in Highland Park, Illinois, which runs from May 25 to June 1.