It’s always a pleasure to run across a former CC, like running into a long-lost friend. I first shot this fine Econoline over in Springfield back in 2009, and wrote it up at the other site. I didn’t see it again for years, and had long forgotten about it. And then here it pops up again, not far from our neighborhood. And it looks just as good as it did then.
And best of all, the owner came out and told me a bit about it. What more could a curbsider ask for?
Let’s get the preliminaries out of the way first. The Supervan was new for 1965, and it simply involved an extended rear end on the original Econoline body. Now that the Econoline had some serious competition from both Chevy and Dodge, Ford needed something to stay the leader of the pack, and this was it. Chevy and Dodge soon countered with extended wheelbase vans, which were of course a better solution than just hanging out back.
Yes, this was a bit primitive, but it did the job. Ford undoubtedly didn’t want to spend the money on an extended wheelbase because by this time they were already working on the next generation Econoline, which would be a really major change, by pushing the engine out front, and thus redefining the American van.
That got rid of the big dog house between the seats, although it was a nice warm place to sit on a cold day. And one could do a tune up in the rain. But good riddance, on the balance. One had to hop over it to get into the back, they were hot in the summer and noisy anytime. And the handling on these was always crappy, although the Supervan with its extended rear undoubtedly had better weight distribution than the regular ones.
This van has the 240 cubic inch “Big Six”, which was a welcome new addition. The 170 Falcon six was always an underachiever, especially with any kind of load. Or hill. And since 1964, the three speed C4 was also available, and is present here. Curiously enough, no automatic was offered on the Econoline in its first three years, 1961-1963. I’m still stumped about that.
In the post here I did on that subject, it was speculated that the new two-speed Fordomatic was to weak. But that makes no sense, as automatics are only strained by the input torque, and that was just the little Falcon six, a torque underdog if ever there was one. Plus, that Fordomatic was used on bigger cars with bigger engines too, including V8s. It’s still a mystery that’s unsolved.
This van of course has a nice camper conversion, roughly comparable to the VW Westfalia that defined the genre in the ’50s. The jalousie windows are a period touch.
The big seat in the back undoubtedly folds down for the main bed. The extra length on the Supervan was quite welcome in this role.
When I shot it back in 2009, the owner also came out, and raised the top, which is pretty nifty. Unlike the more typical soft-sided pop tops, this one has rigid walls, mostly windows, actually. It’s a pop up clerestory, and makes for a very light-filled interior.
The current owner bought it in Portland, which explains why I didn’t see it for a decade. But now it’s back home, and it does get used for camping trips.
As is obvious from his other cars in the driveway, he’s a lover of fine vintage iron.
And the Supervan fits right in: more fine vintage iron.
More gen1 Econoline goodness at CC: