Courtesy of Barrett-Jackson
  • 350-ci V8
  • Automatic transmission
  • Modest natural patina
  • Custom bench seating
  • Matching throw pillows
  • Rear table
  • Custom curtains
  • Vintage window screens
  • Roof racks with surfboards
  • Removable side awning
  • Antique picnic supplies

SCM Analysis


Vehicle:1971 Chevrolet Beauville Custom Van
Years Produced:1971–95
Number Produced:17,339 (1971 G10)
Original List Price:$3,738 (G10 Beauville LWB)
SCM Valuation:$8,800
Tune Up Cost:$500–$600
Chassis Number Location:Plate at base of windshield
Engine Number Location:On block in front of right cylinder head
Alternatives:1971 Dodge Ram van, 1971 Ford E-Series Econoline, 1971 GMC Vandura
Investment Grade:D

This van, Lot 333, sold for $17,050, including buyer’s premium, at the Barrett-Jackson Northeast auction in Uncasville, CT, on June 28, 2019.

Released in late 1965, The Seeds’ song “Pushin’ Too Hard” seems just right for this 48-year-old Chevy Beauville. The ’60s and ’70s were, after all, the zenith of the van era, and among the song’s lyrics, “Well all I want is to just be free/Live my life the way I wanna be,” reflects perfectly the approach that young van owners (myself included) had toward life.

Vans allowed you to roam wherever you wanted, sleep or camp out at will, carry friends, motorcycles and surfboards, and decorate with beanbag chairs and carpeting. And with curtains, everything that happened in a van stayed in the van!

Cruisin’ in style

The Chevy Van had a long run, starting with the 1964 G10 and continuing through three generations to 1995, after which the Express nameplate took over. The ’71 model sold at Barrett-Jackson is the first of the third-gen models, and as such benefits from all-new styling and construction, greater dynamic capability thanks to independent front suspension, front disc brakes, and more safety features.

This basic configuration continued for an amazing 25 years.

What a body

Enter the B-J Beauville featured here. As a long-wheelbase window van, it ranks reasonably high on the desirability scale for vans of this period. So does the top Beauville trim’s two-tone color combination — which works pretty well in turquoise and white — and the matching turquoise interior. The eminently rebuildable and tunable GM V8 power is also a plus, especially since this van already has a trailer hitch installed.

Thin in some places and down to the primer or even bare metal in others, the paintwork is near perfect for the patina crowd. But the absence of rust — including in the rocker panels and atop the bumpers — in a nearly half-century-old van offered on the East Coast gives pause about its actual ownership history. Where did it live, and is it really as solid as it looks?

Tryin’ too hard

What is evident is the seller’s effort to create a “surfer look” for this lot, and the process was done on a budget.

While the paintwork was carefully fettled, a dent in the sliding side door went uncorrected. Up top, one of the vintage longboards riding on budget surf racks is missing its fin. Sketchy ride, brah! And the half-dozen “period” window stickers are obviously new, i.e., not at all from the 1970s.

Inside, the Surfer Joe theme continues with a dashboard hula doll on the engine cover and a Hawaiian puka-shell necklace hanging from the rear-view mirror. The second-row bench seat is staged with a fuzzy throw rug and a plaid pillow. A third, side-mounted bench seat is also visible through one rear window. Tilt-out side-door windows are a plus.

Further accoutrements configured to bolster the leisure-time image include a cheapie-looking awning in a mismatched color, cheapie chairs in a mismatched color, a cheapie-looking “vintage” picnic set, more pillows and a mismatched Home Depot-looking throw rug.

The price we pay

As a longtime surfer, adventurer and vigorous van fan, I feel the buyer waaay overpaid for this lot, perhaps after being smitten with its fun-in-the-sun persona. My first response after seeing the $17,050 sale price? Take $10k off the top and we’ll talk. Seven thousand for a clean vintage van with some shortcomings and evidence of the cheap road taken seems plenty fair to me.

Maybe vans are on their way up, but I wouldn’t bet on it.

Chevy Beauvilles are not in the American Car Collector Pocket Price Guide, and my search of the ACC Premium Auction Database online turned up just a single ’75 Chevy delivery van — which sold for a mere $432. NADA’s info is grim as well, with high retail ranging from $2,850 for the ¾-ton long-wheelbase G20 Beauville to $3,575 for the one-ton long-wheelbase G30 Beauville. The ¼-ton long-wheelbase G10 Beauville landed in between at $2,875 high retail.

Stop pretending

I’m happy the buyer of this vintage van got what he or she wanted, at the price they wanted to pay. I’m also happy for the seller, because I surely don’t see how they could have failed to make money on this deal.

Had this one landed in my driveway, I’d ditch the cheesy accouterments in a hurry, replace those waterlogged old longboards with newer ones, throw a couple of wetsuits, sleeping bags and a cookstove in the back, stop pretending, and take a real surf trip.

At that moment, the price paid will cease to matter, because life’s for living, waves are for riding, and vans are for driving. And as Sammy Johns sang in the famous “Chevy Van” song of 1973, “…that’s all right with me.”

(Introductory description courtesy of Barrett-Jackson.)

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