The Carchive: The '82 GMC Value Van

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Welcome to the Thursday instalment of The Carchive, where we survey the papery remnants of a time that once was, and marvel at how many actual vehicles have been outlived by their promotional materials.

On Tuesday we wound back to 1981 and peered at a sporting Italian Sedan. Today we step forward a year, to a vehicle which is pretty much the opposite extreme. It’s the Value Van.

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“Quality built for value”

The GMC Value Van, and the very similar indeed Cheverolet Step-Van were General Motors offering into the multi-stop truck arena. This brochure is for the range after freshening for ’82. As you’d expect with this kind of vehicle, year-on-year changes tended to be incremental, evolutional and not particularly visible, with the basic design remaining as much of a motorized box at the end of the model’s run as it was at the beginning.

However, there were changes, and GM were very proud of them. A new optional 6.2 litre V8 diesel, for example. A new 178″ wheelbase option,  changes to the front and rear bumpers and the introduction of 16″ wheels instead of 16.5″. And, inside:

“…a 1-inch lower steering wheel for greater comfort”.

With such a basic yet fundamental change as the position of the steering wheel one wonders just how bad it had been before. When they say “comfort” I presume they mean survivability more than anything. I can’t imagine these things, with their canteen-bench style drivers seat and total lack of sound deadening, being particular enjoyable to spend anything more than the absolute minimum of time stuck inside the cabin of.

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“We’ve placed increased emphasis on quality. Check our seams, paint coverage and anti-corrosion procedures, we think you’ll like what you see.”

These were workhorses, above anything else, and durability was keen. Having said that, I always think that dents, decay and the general patina that comes with living a hard life looks just as noble on a walk-in delivery van as on an old Land Rover.

The general feature list reads like a minimum-requirements list by comparison to the obscenely luxurious vans that drivers take for granted today.

“Side doors glide smoothly on non-rusting nylon bushings. Enclosed door pockets prevent interference by cargo. Drivers door has a sliding door panel for ventilation.”

Of course, this is a stark contrast from the version of the Value Van which was sold as a Motor Home chassis, where the crude simplicity of the van would end up concealed forever beneath whatever class A RV bodywork ended up draped over the top of it.

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“Job proven gasoline engines. The standard engine for GMC Value Van and forward control chassis (except motor home) is a dependable 4.8 litre in-line six”

I’m probably more interested by these than a lot of folk were, due to their total absence on English roads, with Ford Transits and their myriad imitators fulfilling pretty much any light-to-medium weight haulage requirement we could throw in their general direction.

Though GM pulled out of the market in the mid 90’s, with the design rights to the P-Series being taken over by the Workhorse company, under the Navistar umbrella, though I believe that in itself fizzled out before long, there are plenty of specialist firms keeping the spirit alive. Morgan Olson continue to offer what I always knew as the Grumman (and I always loved the idea of a van made by the same firm as an F-14), and their arch-rival Utilimaster are still around, too, though they get a stern reprimand from me for having the slogan “Driving Intelligent Vehicle Solutions”. Bleurgh.

Anybody here got any hilarious walk-in-van anecdotes?

(Disclaimer: All images are of original manufacturer publicity materials, photographed by me. Copyright remains property of GM. If anybody else in the UK has a copy of this brochure, we should meet up over a pint)

About RoadworkUK

RoadworkUK is the online persona of Gianni Hirsch, a tall, awkward gentleman with a home office full of gently decomposing paper and a garage full of worthless scrap metal. He lives in the village of Moistly, which is a safe distance from London and is surrounded by enough water and scenery to be interesting. In another life, he has designed, sold, worked on and written about cars in exchange for small quantities of money.

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