Here’s a screen shot of the video that follows, a graphic (if exaggerated) example of how front-heavy these forward-control compact trucks were.
Hat tip to MarcKyle64
Geez, that looks like great fun!!!
BMC J4 vans were known to nose dive under harsh braking unladen they had the engine between the seats later models had the engine out front and longer wheelbase and Rover V8 equipped rather than BMC B series powered
Photo didnt post we’ll try again
I recall reading somewhere that Ford put a couple of big counterweights under the back of the bed and that they had been removed for this test. Anyone know if that is really true?
These things always looked like putting your foot on the front bumper to tie your shoe would start it to tip.
As bad as the Corvair’s uneven load floor with the high portion at the back hurt the vans, it absolutely killed the pickups on the sales charts.
An Econoline doesn’t normally sit like that. And if you notice the passenger is sitting on the dashboard against the windshield, and the driver is leaned way up as far as he can be
Of course if you look closely the passenger in the Econoline is leaning up against the window when they slam on the brakes, and slam them on and leave them on it what the driver does. Now look at the Corvair again, the passenger is sitting back in his seat and when the rear of the truck starts to come up the driver modulates the brakes again and again, and the initial application does not seem to be with the same force as was done with the Econoline.
If you read the comments at Youtube you’ll see that someone claims that they removed the counterweight from the back of the Econoline. Looking at it’s stance supports and the fact that when they lift up the back of the truck the wheels don’t droop, nor do the springs compress when it is put back down support that idea.
It also has a standard pickup tailgate rather than the taller heavier one that came on the Econoline.
The reality is that as shipped the Econoline wouldn’t do a stoppie like shown in the ad.
You’ll also notice a few tricks they played to get it stuck like letting off the gas at critical times to stop the forward momentum and ensure that the Econoline got stuck.
Plain and simple GM did pretty much anything they could to discredit the Econoline in this ad, which isn’t surprising given the fact that the Econoline was selling much better.
GM was obviously trying to discredit the Econoline, but to be fair, it’s alleged that Ford (or its dealers) doled out a few jabs in late 1959 about how the Corvair’s rear weight bias could be tricky.
All’s fair in love and marketing.
I love that you pointed out those tricks, I hadn’t noticed any of them of course, not even the shorty tailgate. I’d like to have been in earshot when all those guys went out for beers after a long day of stunt driving. I’d also like to have been in earshot ,at a safe distance, when the Ford guys saw it.
Another trick I didn’t mention is that the Econoline’s spare tire is missing which mounts between the rear of the truck and the right rear tire. The other question is just how much fuel was in the Econoline when they did those tests, as it is mounted behind the rear axle as well.
I’m sure the guys at Ford were steaming after seeing the commercial, at least until they looked at the sales numbers.
“Looking at it’s stance supports and the fact that when they lift up the back of the truck the wheels don’t droop, nor do the springs compress when it is put back down support that idea.”
Oops meant to say don’t droop, nor compress *much*.
Ford Product Planning Meeting Minutes, Monday December 21, 1959.
Smithers – Engineering: The E pick up nosedives to its bumper under normal braking conditions.
Jones – Accounting, Campbell – Product Planning, Johnson – Finance, Larson – Sales:
SHUT UP SMITHERS!
Secretary: Next Issue…….
I believe it is far to note that when shopping for a van/pick up of this style, it is better to get the vehicle with the REAR engine set up, instead of the FRONT.
You have to wonder why Ford blindly followed VW and GM into this predicament. It is rather obvious you don’t put the engine of these things in the front.
So, it is a far comparison. If you really craved this design, you need to avoid the maker who puts all the weight over the front wheels.
But then, these vehicles aren’t awesome anyway.
The reality is that the Econoline and the Dodge are not front engined, they are mid engined. The engine is placed mostly or completely behind the front axle. The other question is if the rear engine design is so superior then why did GM abandon the Corvair based model and come out with a design like the Ford and Dodge? The fact is that GM used lots of tricks in the video in a desperate attempt to discredit the much better selling Econoline.
Absolutely proven is the fact that they removed the Econoline’s spare tire, put on a shorter tail gate and had the passenger lean up against the window when performing that braking test. They may have also removed the counter weight and it likely did not have a full tank of gas.
Nevertheless, these Ford and Dodge vans handled pretty atrociously. Ask me how I know. GM was just exaggerating their intrinsic weaknesses a bit. And it makes for a fun watch, if you don’t take it too seriously 😉
It certainly makes for entertaining viewing.
Some people may think they went beyond the exaggeration one would normally expect in advertising, and were down right deceitful. If they were willing to do those things that are easy to see, no spare, non-stock tail gate, an passenger leaning against the windshield, then it does make you wonder if they did things that aren’t visible.
If it were me I’d start with doing things you couldn’t see like remove and possibly repositioning the ballast weight to the front of the vehicle to try and make it do a stoppie. My bet is that they did indeed do that first and when that still didn’t give the desired results they went for the things that are visible in the ad.
As far as the Econoline handling atrociously I had a 62 for a number of years and never considered it to handle particularly bad for what it was. I did use it for work a lot of the time but I also took it on logging roads a lot and used it for camping out in the woods and never had a problem of it getting stuck in the mud. Did it handle as good as a car certainly not, did it handle as good as my 56 F100 yeah and I’d say maybe even better.
It also looks like some “adjustment” to the brake bias may have taken place. I’ll bet they had to draw straws to see who got to ride that test out. “Seat belts? Can’t do it. You have to lean forward when you feel it start to tip”
I’m surprised they didn’t put a small box of something in the back to get a dramatic shot of it catapulting out of the bed!
So what happens to a rear-engined van when a big load is placed in the back? Is there an equivalent of a Corvan with 1000lb placed over the engine where it tips up on its back wheels?
Moving the axle ahead of the passenger compartment was a clear solution on many levels, just not manoeuvrability (longer WB = larger turning circle).
The design of the load floor of the Corvair Rampside discouraged that. The lowest, and also the largest, portion of the load floor is in the center, and that is the part accessed by the side gate. The load floor kicks up over the engine compartment in back. So, most big and heavy things would get loaded right in the center of the vehicle. On the other hand, the Ford loads from the back, and just about anything anywhere in the bed would help.
Of course, but if you wanted to produce a bad result that doesn’t matter right?
I haven’t watched the video but it does remind me of one I’ve seen of a Suzuki Carry van-based pickup with a rather large gentleman driving who managed to make the thing tip right over the front end and finish upside down!
OK, so how would you install these “the wrong way ’round” on the Ford?
Out in the country I never saw farmers using either of these pickups. I do remember seeing a local painter and appliance store in town owning one.
And here is the UK equivalent, the craptastic Standard Atlas which would perform much the same trick if you stood on the brakes. No wonder van lovers swooned when Ford came up with the Transit in ’66.
It’s not really too difficult to figure out why Ford and Chrysler went with a mid-engine van layout as opposed to rear engine like GM and VW. It was just simple economics. Although they wanted a piece of the small van market, neither Ford nor Chrysler had the desire and/or ability to spend the money to develop an entirely new drivetrain for the compact market.
So, Ford and Chrysler took their compact car drivetrains (which were essentially the same base drivetrains used in their other cars) and wedged them between the driver and passenger to create their own similar-sized vans and compact pickup trucks.
Unfortunately, they all had issues. With the shorty mid-engine pickups, the handling was pretty bad (although not as bad as depicted in the GM videos). While the heavier vans handled better because of better weight distribution, the enclosed area also meant there was a lot of heat build-up in the interior, which would be downright miserable during the hot summer months.
I wish I could remember where so I could 100% vouch for this, but I have a recollection of reading that the weights were an early production running change to the Econoline. If so, it is possible GM could have had an early production or even pre-production model (which would make sense, since this was probably part of a dealer promo or sales training film rather than a commercial to the public).
The may have added the ballast weight as a running production change. However I can’t believe that they got a hold of a pre-production model, you just don’t let those out of your control and you certainly wouldn’t give one to your biggest competitor. Even if it was a running change and the one in the ad didn’t leave the factory with the ballast then why did they need to remove the spare, fit a non-factory tail gate and then have a passenger lean against the windshield during the braking test.
There’s another ‘commercial’ where a Falcon loaded down with four burly guys vainly torches it’s rear tires while a Corvair calmly pulls a Lockheed Electra forward a few feet. It’s obvious (at least to me) that they set the parking brakes on the Electra before they attached the Falcon to the nose gear. The standard airport tow rigs aren’t all that powerful either, they just need boatloads of torque and gearing.
After seeing these ‘ads’, I can see why Volkswagen eschewed all the traditional advertising tactics and went with DDB.
Nobody’s mentioned how the Ford’s driver’s door opens during its stand en pointe. Chassis flex, anyone? Or more GM trickery?
I know which of these trucks I’d rather have– it’s the one that maintains reasonable F/R balance even without a full tank of gas.
The Econoline has the modern style door latches, Ford pioneered them in the late 50’s, so chassis flex would not cause the door to pop open.
My guess since GM didn’t mention it in the ad and it never got that far open is that the driver was holding on to the handle and accidentally or purposely opened it.
At least until you try to load some cargo into the back of the thing. That was what made the Corvair Rampside such a loser in sales – the load floor is low in the middle of the vehicle and raised up in the back to clear the engine. The rear tailgate was essentially useless and that stepped floor made carrying many kinds of loads a problem. The Rampside and Loadside were sales disasters of the first order. Not that the Econoline pickup set the world on fire either. It turned out that these forward control pickups were an overly complex way to do a small pickup. The Japanese finally hit the solution – just scale down a big pickup. They sold a bazillion of them.
I’m amazed the tires of the day had enough traction to do this even with all the tricks mentioned.
They didn’t show what happened when a pre 1965 Corvair made a sharp turn and “tucked’ its outside rear wheel under causing the driver to loose control! Ralph Nader was correct about the early Corvairs and many other cars with “swing axles” in the back. They were much more treacherous under certain conditions than cars with a different type of rear suspension. Don’t ask how I know.
I have a 1961 ford Econoline pickup, and I cannot lift the back end like that!!! And have never nose dived like that!!! And there are also two gas tanks under the bed.
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