Classic Show Van: 1977 GMC Van LRP

Custom vans seem to have been surfacing a lot lately, or else we have lots of readers submitting them! Though the initial fad has long passed by, the style is still popular and many people are replicating it today. This 1977 GMC is a period original custom done by LRP. LRP is a conversion company of which I can find little information other than that the company customized GM vans and trucks when they were new in the 1970s and 1980s. While not a factory option, it is likely that this was sold as new as a regional dealer option. This example has 76,000 actual miles and can be found here on Craigslist in Los Angeles for $15,000. Thanks to Cole for sending this one in! 

I have seen a lot of custom van interiors lately, but this is one of the more complex and shag-heavy interiors I have seen. The archway is really cool! It is a little hard to tell in this picture, but it looks like there may even be light switches on the wall and a mini-fridge! “Shaggin’ wagons” aren’t for everyone, but I love everything about this van. It looks comfy, funky, and just ridiculous enough to be cool.

Because a lower decal package isn’t enough for a van to be considered custom, it looks like LRP opted for a wraparound mural in the form of window film. Like any decorative window film, the mural on this GMC has faded with time. You can still sort of make out the scene, but if it were possible to have this recreated in original colors and reapplied that would go a long way in making this van show-ready! In other news, rear-mounted spare tires are an excellent addition to most vehicles.

Aside from the faded window film, the rest of this GMC appears to be in fantastic shape for its age and with the faded window graphics remedied it would look nearly new once again. The seller has owned it for 15 years, but has decided to let it go. I would be tempted to daily this! How about you?

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Comments

  1. Nrg8

    Hmm, well it is a shorty. That is all…..

    • LAB3

      For whatever reason (I’m not sure what that reason was) short wheelbase vans where seen as cool and the longer one’s where not.

      Like 1
  2. Scott L

    This brings memories back . There were companies that customized vans in similar fashion one was called “Custom Coach”. The one van done I remember the most was called “Southern Comfort ” with a black exterior and custom air brushed graphics . Although the interior structure was similar to this one and was the same year and model, the interior was red crush velvet tuck and roll with button pleating. Yes It not only had a custom built in bar and refrigerator but also customization through out the entire van. All door panels, head liner area, dash, engine cover and over head visor compartment were either a combination of clear lacquer dark stained Oak with red crush velvet padding also pleated or just clear lacquer dark stained Oak as was found through out the entire dash area surrounding gauges and controls. The only thing missing would have been a plasma TV of today and it would have been one hell of a limo you could sleep in. Thanks for the memory and reminding me I am old as dirt now.

  3. Classic Steel

    twiggy called with John Denver and said let this van keep on rocking but we’re not knocking until it’s at half the price 🤣😍🤑

  4. Rube Goldberg Member

    LRP, Leisure and Recreation Products, was an outfit near Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. I think they were one of the biggest van conversion companies in the country. Many companies dabbled in the custom van craze, I delivered auto paint to another custom van outfit in Milwaukee, the name escapes me, but for a while, custom vans were huge. Every father in the world got a bit nervous, if a custom van pulled up to their house for a date with their daughter. Recently, there has been a renewed interest in “vannin”, but will never rival the 70’s. Cool find.

    Like 1
  5. Solosolo KEN TILLY Member

    You guys called them “Shaggin Wagons” while we called them “F Trucks”

  6. Gene Parmesan

    The price on this is absolutely ridiculous, but this is a super cool rig. While LRP did mostly GM vans, I was a bidder on a Dodge LRP conversion awhile back on ebay that looked very similar to this one. These are only going to go up in price though. Custom vanning is making a comeback.

    • Robert

      LRP did not do mostly GM vans. I worked at LRP in 1974 and 1975. And my brother worked there for a few years more after that. We typically got in 50-75 bare bones vans from each of Ford, Chevy/GM and Dodge at a time and kept cycling through each of them, one after another. I personally worked on hundreds of them over the course of a couple of years, first at their small first shop on Maxwell St, then we moved into a new facility on Sheridan Springs Road. I worked on orders from dealers around the country as well as occasionally being given the reins to build creations of my own design that LRP would make available for dealers to purchase. We even owned a custom painted (to match the van motif) car-hauling semi to deliver finished vans. I still have pictures of some of the ones I built.

      • Robert

        An additional comment regarding the contents of the article. The writer suggests that the graphics have faded due to LRP’s possibly opting to use wrap around “window film” graphics. I can’t speak for this specific 1977 van (though my brother might be able too), but for the 3 years I was there (74-76), EVERY MURAL GRAPHIC was airbrushed on. I knew both the muralist and the pin-striper. I watched them work their magic. It was all paint, baby! And a lot of paint fades too after 40+ years if not properly cared for. And even that isn’t a guarantee.

        Like 1
  7. geomechs geomechs Member

    Brings back a lot of memories about the vans cruising around and the guys who owned them. Makes me also think about the movie: ‘Drive In.’ What was that loser’s name? ‘Enoch?’ I think it was missing the ‘U.’ Nice van but to be in accordance with the custom vans from that era, it’s missing the blowup doll….

  8. Dean

    All it needs to be fully authentic is an “Ass, Grass, or Gas – Nobody rides for free” bumper sticker…

  9. OIL SLICK

    I remember going to the drive-in movies and the back rows were all vans lined up. That’s where the parties were and all the chickies. Awesome good times that i often reminisce about. Our local drive in was named SKI HI in Addison, IL.

    • ACZ

      How about the 53 Drive-in?

      • OIL SLICK

        that’s where it was

  10. JimmyJ

    15k?
    Woah
    Kinda cool though

  11. Will

    Here’s the ad archive, I’m loving the shag. http://www.craigslistadsaver.com/view.php?name=1977GMCVanLRP

  12. Adam T45 Staff

    Best sticker I ever saw on one of these in the day? “Microwave Sin Bin. Pop your chick in. Done in 10 minutes.”

  13. ACZ

    This is where a lot of the hobby went when the “muscle” went out of muscle cars.

  14. JW

    I agree when the government and insurance industry killed the musclecar we went to vans and trucks. For me it was trucks.

  15. sluggo

    Levis did the “Jean machine”, Coca Cola had some cool ones, Saw a couple cool star wars themed ones. While nostalgic, they did present some issues for maintenance as well as cooling. Restomodded with an overdrive trans and perhaps updated motor might get the fuel mileage tolerable but one issue that killed many of them was poor fuel economy, so when govt gave away incentives for the crusher program a LOT of these got scrapped.
    The new Dodge Sprinter vans (actually mercedes made) are pretty awesome for customizing. Seen some really nice racer haulers using them (Motorcycle racers) but also some luxury RV packages

  16. Miguel

    The two problems I see with this van is the lack of air and for that price I don’t want to have to redo the outside customs graphics.

    After all it is still a cargo van with a bed inside.

  17. Zapp

    Gasp, a SoCal van without A/C? No wonder it only has 76K miles.

    Maybe that mini-fridge also doubles as a “swamp cooler”…

  18. Theo L.

    LRP was my grandfather’s company. It’s really funny seeing all the amazing comments and support. I’ve grown up wondering what it’s like to own one of them and I’m trying to find one for sale somewhere. I’m happy to see that some are still around in great condition. Thank you all for helping keep LRP alive in spirit. Keep on Vannin’!

    Like 3
    • Robert

      Theo, does that mean your grandfather was Lee Bender? He owned it with his two sons, Ed and Ron. I worked for them in the early days on Maxwell Street and then when the new shop opened up on Sheridan Springs Road.

      • Theo L.

        Yes sir! I am the son of his only daughter. Ron and Ed are my uncles. Unfortunately though, Ed and Lee have passed. But if you have more photos of LRP vans and such, I would absolutely love to see them! It would be a dream come true. Please let me know the best way to contact you. (: If it’s easiest, I’m the only Theo Laleian on Facebook.

        Like 1
      • Robert

        Theo, as a sister of “the Bender boys,” I’m thinking she worked there too, more in the office than in the shop. I remember a young woman with long blonde hair working there. Would that have been your mom in the 74/5 time frame? And yes, I do have a number of photographs of some of the vans taken back then, including some custom ones I did as ‘one offs’. I also have a dealer price sheet and an LRP brochure that has a picture of me cutting a hole in the side of a van in prep for a new bubble window install.

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