The Chevy Van was one of those machines which was so numerous on North American roads as to blend in with the visual white noise of street furniture and roadside ephemera. No doubt it will become increasingly sought after as good examples become scarce, but I don’t suspect the supplies are due to dry up any day soon.
Examples in the UK, though, are few and far between, and tend to be rather well looked after. This is clearly true of the this superb bronze ’79 example seen in the well-to-do riverside town of Woodbridge in Suffolk, UK
In a busy parking lot, the Chevy blends in with the Mercs and Volvos like a jalapeño pepper does an ice cream sundae. It took up all the available space in a typical British parking space, and then a little extra for good measure. While the proportions of the Chevy are similar to our own Transit, it’s still an imposing slab of metal.
Good looking, too. While the grille treatment of these wasn’t so different to many cars of the late seventies, the fact that it didn’t look hideously dated a decade beyond hints towards a design job well done.
It’s all the more remarkable to see one of these in any other form than dayvan configuration. This one still had four rows of somewhat mean-looking bench seats, all with man-made material facings that I can feel peeling from my hot skin even from here.
Woodbridge isn’t a long way from the former Air Force base of the same name, and with Bentwaters, Mildenhall and Lakenheath not far either, it wouldn’t surprise me at all if this machine entered the country via a military route, although there are pointers that it’s only been in the UK for a couple of years.
I wasn’t around when this machine parked or drove away, so I had to wait until I got home to determine what kind of noise it would have made. The answer, of course, is a fairly nice one – our handy Government-sponsored registration lookup system confirms 5.7-litres of all-American beef behind that bullish nose.
It’s a pleasure to see somebody looking after a machine like this, which is far from the most obvious example of US Iron to wish to preserve so far from its country of origin. Later that day I saw a C3 Corvette, a 1981 Firebird and and two relatively recent Mustangs, all cars which are, unsurprisingly, relatively commonplace over here by comparison. It takes a fair degree of single-mindedness, and perhaps a little eccentricity to opt for a Chevy Van instead. Its owner has my respect and admiration, not to mention a tiny bit of envy.
(All images Chris Haining / Hooniverse 2017)