There's a reason the auction listing for the 1977 AMC concept vehicle called the AM Van didn't include photos of the interior when the compact red wagon came up for sale last summer: It didn't have one. The 4x4 drivetrain that its decals advertised? No such thing. No real chassis either, just four rolling wheels. But German collector and customizer Andreas Wietzke intends to rectify that with his plans to make the AM Van into a running and driving vehicle.
"I love to perform correct restorations, but sometimes also create and build new constructions in the period style," he said. "That is what I am doing now with the AM Van."
Built at a time when the public's confidence and interest in the independent automaker was flagging, the AM Van was one of several concept cars that AMC whipped up for its Concept 80 program in 1977. Conceived as a sort of GM Motorama-like traveling road show, the Concept 80 program was intended "to demonstrate in a tangible way that (AMC) still had plenty of new ideas for the small car market, and to reinforce its reputation as an innovative small-car manufacturer," Pat Foster wrote in his account of the show's stop in New York City in the September 2009 issue of Hemmings Classic Car.
In some ways, AMC showed prescience with its concepts - or, at the very least, showed that company execs and stylists paid attention to what was going on in the auto marketplace. For instance, Foster described the Concept I - a compact two-door hatchback - as something like AMC's answer to the Volkswagen Rabbit, though it also looks very much like Honda's second-generation Civic. The reduced size of the Jeep II foreshadowed the Samurai and other compact SUVs. The Electron predicted a far-flung future of battery-electric power that wasn't nearly ready in the late Seventies (and which was no more ready than when the Electron initially appeared as the Amitron in 1967). And then there was the AM Van.
Re: AM Van, AMC's Concept Minivan From the Seventies, to Be Made Drivable