Photo: Jason Torchinsky

Okay, everyone, everyone, stop what you’re doing. Pilots, put your planes on autopilot. Surgeons, drop the scalpel and crank the anesthetic. Drivers, pull over. Everyone just get somewhere safe where you can concentrate, because we’re going to be identifying the van used on Target’s shopping cart return corrals. Try to remain calm.

If you haven’t seen the sign yet, you should be able to see it at your local Target’s shopping cart return corral thing. You may wish to go visit one and set up a lawn chair so you can study the image at your leisure.

Photo: Jason Torchinsky

The van in the image, improbably populated with an attractive family of five, all dressed in red-and-white, is white, or perhaps was actually just a black-and-white image, since the turn indicators don’t even seem to have a hint of amber behind those cloudy clear lenses.

The van is almost certainly a first-generation Chevy Van. This type was built between 1964 and 1966, and it was a smaller van, designed to compete with other small vans of the era. This would mean things like Volkswagen’s Type 2 Transporter and the Ford Econoline or Dodge A100. The competition with VW’s van (and its difference from the older Chevy Greenbrier) is evident in ads like this, which make a point of noting that the van has a front-mounted engine:

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That detail is also important when evaluating the modifications Target’s designers made to the van, which appear to be focused on removing badges and any and all forms of ventilation or air intake.

If we imagine an alternate reality where the Target van would have existed, based on this image we could assume the van is not, in fact, front-engined, but is in fact an alternate rear-engined van, like if Chevrolet decided to use the air-cooled, rear-engined Corvair drivetrain in a van without designing a whole new van like the Greenbriar:

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So that’s what Target’s designers must have been going for: the suggestion of a world where Chevrolet decided to spend less R&D money transforming the Corvair into a van.

That seems pretty consistent with Target’s overall goals, right?