What is the Scooby-Doo Mystery Machine van?

While the Scooby-Doo Mystery Machine is a fictional car, its design features suggest that it is either a Dodge A100 or a Chevrolet G-Body panel van.
Written by Ethan Moser
Reviewed by Jessica Barrett
background
While fictional, the Mystery Machine van from the Scooby-Doo cartoon series is suspected to be based on either a
Dodge
A100 or a mid-1960s G-Body panel van. Replicas of the famous van have been recreated using a 1972 Bedford CF, a 1968 Ford Econoline, and a 1976 GMC van for different live-action movie appearances and promotional materials.
The Mystery Machine van from Hanna-Barbera’s Scooby-Doo has been a staple of childhood Saturday morning cartoons since the series debuted in 1969. Since that first Saturday morning, automotive enthusiasts have debated the make and model of the elaborately custom-painted van that Fred Jones, Daphne Blake, Velma Dinkley, Shaggy Rogers, and the talking Great Dane Scooby-Doo use to complete their Mystery Inc. detective work.
Here to join those meddling kids in sleuthing out the mystery of the make and model of the Mystery Machine is
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What is the Scooby-Doo Mystery Machine van?

While the Mystery Machine’s psychedelic hippie-esque paint job and distinct body shape might conjure up thoughts of a 1960s
Volkswagen
van, the panel van we’ve seen on our TV screens since 1969 is more likely based on a Dodge A100 or a Chevrolet G-Body panel van due to the round headlights and a similar body shape. 
In the 2002 live-action movie Scooby-Doo, the real-life gang took the wheel of a custom-painted 1972 Bedford CF camper van instead of the speculated A100 or G-Body vans. That said, even the live-action films couldn’t commit to a make and model for the Mystery Machine. The promotional van for the series used a 1976
GMC
van, which currently resides in the Volo Museum in Volo, Illinois.
Let’s take a closer look at the features of the models (and their history in pop culture!).

Dodge A100

Manufactured from 1960 to 1974, the Dodge A100 panel van could have easily inspired Hanna-Barbera’s Mystery Machine design. The van was also sold with a blue-base paint job similar to the design we eventually see on the Mystery Machine in 1969.
If you’re interested in the amount of power the Dodge A100-inspired Mystery Machine was packing under the hood, there were a plethora of engine options to aid the gang in their getaways from monsters over the years. From 1960 to 1974, the Dodge A100 camper van offered the following powertrain options:
  • 2.8-liter inline-six-cylinder
  • 3.7-liter inline-six-cylinder
  • 4.5-liter V-8
  • 5.2-liter V-8
Each of these powertrains was available with either a three-speed manual or a three-speed automatic transmission.
In terms of the 1960s Dodge A100’s appearances in pop culture outside of the Scooby-Doo franchise, we can see the camper van pop up in That 70s Show, Cars, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Stealing Harvard, and the 1960s Batman television series.

Chevy G-Body panel van

Speculated to be the inspiration for the Mystery Machine due to its iconic round headlights and open interior cabin, the 1960s Chevrolet G-Body panel van debuted in 1964 with production on the model finally ceasing in 1996. 
The first-generation G-Body (1964 to 1966) is the most likely inspiration for Hanna-Barbera’s Mystery Machine. The model’s box shape was designed for maximum hauling, leaving the entire back of the van open. This aligns perfectly with the van from Scooby-Doo, whose cabin is frequently rearranged to accommodate any number of layouts.
The first-generation Chevy G-Body panel van offered the following powertrain options:
  • 2.5-liter inline-four-cylinder
  • 3.2-liter inline-six-cylinder
  • 3.8-liter inline-six-cylinder
Each of these models could also be paired with either a three-speed manual or a two-speed automatic transmission.
In terms of pop culture, the only confirmed appearance of the Chevy G-Body van is in the 1980s A-Team television series, operated by Mr. T.
MORE: Van insulation: tips, tricks, and considerations for van lifers

Key features of the Mystery Machine

Whether the Mystery Machine was meant to resemble the Dodge A100 or the Chevy G-Body more, we may never know—but we are sure that any future iterations of the van would not be complete without the following features:
  • Iconic round headlights
  • Front-mounted spare tire
  • Instantly recognizable blue-green-and-orange custom paint job
  • Open interior floor plan that can accommodate for the gang’s sleuthing purposes
This last point speaks to the ever-changing nature of the Mystery Machine in the animated series. Oftentimes, the van features bench seats for the members of Mystery Inc. who can’t fit in the front row. On other occasions, the rear of the van is outfitted with furniture, cabinets, and/or high-tech computer equipment.
While the Mystery Machine has seen many iterations—including having turned into a monster itself for the Scooby-Doo film Scooby-Doo and the Goblin King—at the end of the day, its defining feature is its paint. The light blue and vibrant green paint job interspersed with orange flowers and the Mystery Machine logo has been so iconic over the last 50 years, that it has inspired many fans to design replica vans of their own using Dodge A100s and Chevy G-Body panel vans.

How to find cheap car insurance for your not-so-mystery machine

You might not be able to get your hands on a reliable 1960s A100 or G-Body to live out your Mystery-Machine dreams, but you can customize your insurance policy for your modern-day not-so-mystery machine with
Jerry
, the #1-rated insurance comparison app. 
As a licensed insurance broker, Jerry brings you competitive quotes on car insurance from the nation’s top providers, all in as little as 45 seconds. You won’t have to deal with any phone calls or paperwork, and the average user saves more than $800 per year just by switching. 
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