The AMC Concept Car Previewed The Compact Crossover Over 40 Years Ago

Classic Cars / 17 Comments

This 1977 AMC Van Concept is up for grabs.

Have you ever wanted to own a concept car? Well, now you can treat yourself to a 1977 AMC Van Concept.

The little van you see in these images was meant to be part of the American Motors Corporation's plan to introduce a series of vehicles more suited to the socio-economic climate of the late 1970s.

It all started with the 1973 oil crisis when the Organization of Arab Petroleum Exporting Countries (better known as OAPEC) placed an embargo on certain countries that supported Israel during the Yom Kippur War. The oil price skyrocketed, making it nearly impossible to run a sizeable V8-powered car.

AMC's chairman, Roy Chapin, was ahead of his time. He correctly predicted that people would buy smaller if the cars offered the same luxury and comfort.

RM Sotheby's
RM Sotheby's
RM Sotheby's
RM Sotheby's

At the time, AMC's design department was helmed by Richard Teague. He also designed the AMC AMX, AMC Javelin, and the Jeep Cherokee.

He was tasked with creating six concepts AMC could take to seven major cities. The result was a few hatches, a more miniature Jeep with the design DNA from a Willys, an EV, and this little van.

AMC used polling to find the most popular of the bunch, and the AMC Van Concept won. Chapin and Teague predicted the rise in popularity of the van and the compact crossover that would follow decades later. That scaled-down Jeep we mentioned earlier sounds like a Jeep Renegade to us.

RM Sotheby's
RM Sotheby's
RM Sotheby's
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While the large greenhouse gives this concept car a van-like appearance, we can't help but think of it as a compact crossover.

The car is nothing more than an empty shell with a partially finished interior, but the stickers make it quite clear what AMC was going for.

You can see an increase in ride height from the outside, and the 4x4 stickers make it clear that it was meant to be somewhat helpful off-road. We think it would have been, looking at the short overhang at the front and the impressive departure angle at the rear. It also says "Turbo" on the back, indicating a small capacity turbocharged engine to save fuel.

How familiar does that sound? That's the same recipe used to produce just about every compact and midsize crossover currently available.

The listing does not mention a price, but since it's not a running vehicle, it will likely be scooped up by a museum.

RM Sotheby's
RM Sotheby's
RM Sotheby's
RM Sotheby's

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