Market Finds: So You Want a Vintage Van?
Vans aren’t often the most exciting vehicles to drive, but they are, without a doubt, the most versatile. Because of this, owner’s groups around the world have been formed to appreciate their model of choice. The Volkswagen Type-2 Microbus clubs usually go camping. Citroën HY owners meet to compare how their vans differ from one another.
And those with GMC conversion vans compare the quality of both the airbrushed murals and the shag carpet fitted to their machines.
If you’ve ever wanted to own a vintage van, we’ve found plenty of interesting choices.
Catering trucks / Citroën HY
The Citroën HY is one of the more under-appreciated models from the double-chevron marque, owing to its unsightly Junkers-like ribbed metal sides and its Darth Vader-like face. Between 1947 and 1981, Citroën churned out nearly 500,000 of them. Problem, at least for those of us in North America: over here, there are only a handful to choose from.
They can be imported into both the U.S. and Canada, and a quick search across Europe on mobile.de shows two dozen on offer, from about €4,000 to more than €40,000.
We’re focusing, however, on a few recent eBay listings that a friend passed along, saying to simply search for “Citroën” on eBay and looking at the results. From what appears to be the same seller in France, here are a number of interesting body styles—and a number of different price points.
That slab-sided Citroën may look exotic, however, it’s anything but. Alfa Romeo, Renault, and a few other European marques have a long history of building interesting commercial vans.
Here are some interesting examples we’ve been able to find:
Alfa Romeo Romeo at romeoregister.com
Alfa Romeo F12—a ratty example at mobile.de
Renault Estafette at mobile.de
British—and almost fully faired-in—Commer vans at carandclassic.co.uk
Chevrolet Corsair Greenbriar cans at hemmings.com
“Vanning” may have started before Hot Rod Magazine editor Terry Cook opened the first National Truck-In in 1973 by saying, “For those of you who are participating, please be cool. No arguments, no drugs, no thievery and no cutting brodies (doing doughnuts) in the dirt.”
You may chuckle at some of the whimsical designs and often luxuriously-appointed interiors that were hallmarks of the Vanning craze, but the fact remains that vans are relatively inexpensive to acquire or build, they’re simple to fix, and there are a number of clubs to join and events to attend each year.
Amazingly, customizing vans has even spread to Japan, where they typically modify theirs for more performance or, in the case of this example, simply preserve an already-completed design.
Where else? The Vanning.com classifieds.