By on December 2, 2014

24 - 1972 Ford Econoline Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinAfter yesterday’s 1972 Mercury Junkyard Find, it makes sense— in some circles— to stick with model-year 1972 vehicles this week. With that in mind, here’s a very biohazardous second-gen Ford Econoline that I braved without benefit of a space suit. I’m pretty sure I didn’t catch hantavirus, scabies, or dioxin poisoning, but it’s still too early to know for sure.
22 - 1972 Ford Econoline Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThis is the big, industrial-strength one-ton version of the early front-engined Econoline.
19 - 1972 Ford Econoline Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinBuilt in Long Beach by the now-long-defunct (as far as I know) Sierra Vans.
11 - 1972 Ford Econoline Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe 1998 newspapers indicate a van that sat for quite a while.
07 - 1972 Ford Econoline Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinHowever, the 2005 calendar on the stove might mean more recent habitation. Perhaps the newspapers were serving as insulation. It’s a shame to see a perfectly good propane stove go to waste— a little scrubbing and it will be 19% less disgusting than it is now!
10 - 1972 Ford Econoline Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinRVs in junkyards manage to combine lots of sharp edges with the smell of human feces. Yucko! Since this is in California, chances are that dozens of black widows (and maybe a rattlesnake or two) await as well. Normally I’d stay far away from this thing, but journalists have to face danger now and then.
15 - 1972 Ford Econoline Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinIn 1980, Ford stuck millions of these decals on the dashes of automatic-transmission-equipped vehicles, in hopes of warding off future lawsuits in the infamous “park-to-reverse” fiasco. If they’d been made to recall all the affected vehicles, it would have involved at least 23 million cars and trucks.

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57 Comments on “Junkyard Find: 1972 Ford Econoline 300 Camper Van...”


  • avatar
    davidziff

    I still want one but it has to have air conditioning.

    • 0 avatar
      JoePhish

      I drove one of these as a commercial van. There were a few surprises. The passenger seat, spare tire, jack & lug wrench were extra, for one.
      I has the 290 cu. in. six with three on the tree. That was the strongest second gear I ever saw.It could haul, fully loaded, from 10 to 50 mph.

      I’m still looking to find another. Stick and a big six–what a way to ride!

  • avatar
    Roberto Esponja

    This is another one that I have to wonder why the salvage yard wouldn’t send straight to the crusher.

  • avatar
    FormerFF

    As my old used car manager used to say, it’s been hit more times than Joe Louis.

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    What an optimistic speedo! I thought the times dictated about 85mph max to be shown. I wouldn’t have stepped in there, too much danger!

    But I do enjoy your sarcasm commentary with these photos a lot.

    • 0 avatar
      bumpy ii

      Naah, 85 mph speedos came in for the late ’70s after the national 55 mph limit was established. Back in 1972, you could still coast down the road at 100 mph and the bored cop would just wave… as long as you were a conservative-looking Caucasian.

      • 0 avatar
        geeber

        In 1972, the speed limit in Pennsylvania was 65 mph, but it was loosely enforced. I do remember my mother being pulled over for 75 mph in 1973 along I-81.

        No one was driving at 100 mph in those days – at least, not in the Northeast or even the South. Maybe out West. But most engines couldn’t withstand sustained, high-speed operation, and neither could the tires. Bias-ply tires were still the rule, not the exception, in the early 1970s.

      • 0 avatar
        mikeg216

        Most cars then except the outliers could do much past 85 mph sustained without catastrophic failure. Now you can beat a chevy spark like the rented donkey it is as fast as you want with the ac blasting and it won’t flinch. Great time were living in, it’s no jetsons but it’ll do.

  • avatar
    indi500fan

    The roof topper looks like it’s got plenty of life left.
    Peel it off and put on a newer van, or caulk the windows and vent and you’ve got a small watercraft.

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    Remember that this was once someone’s pride and joy.

  • avatar
    davefromcalgary

    I have this odd obsession with camper vans, I want one, but then I think to myself that a Little Guy teardrop behind the Verano would make for a far more comfortable drive, and still better accommodations than tenting.

  • avatar
    petezeiss

    Christ, ebola van. You must have been able to hear it whimpering for death.

  • avatar
    Featherston

    “Bruce Berry was a working man . . . .”

  • avatar
    Crabspirits

    Leonard was the sediment of society.

    The one working speaker way in the back of the Econoline hyper-extended.
    “Look at this photograph
    Every time I do it makes me laugh”

    Leonard hummed the tune while working the dead zone of the steering wheel back and forth, vaguely piloting his rolling cardboard box in a common direction down West A St. “What the hell is on Joeeeey’s head?” Leonard never laughed when he looked at his photographs. It was just as well that he burnt them all to cinders on the van’s stovetop. He reached up with his hand, blackened by the grimy starter motor cable, and wiped away a tear.

    “Where the…hell…was it?”, Leo wondered, scanning the side streets for the Heritage Inn Express. Casper jumped up on his lap. The mangy white feline’s claws penetrated his soiled jeans with ease, slashing his leg. The man grimaced in shocking pain, grabbing the cat, and hurling it over his right shoulder. The cat responded to this eviction much like Leo did at his old apartment, loudly digging in it’s claws to hold fast, and leaving destruction. “Son of a bi*ch!!”, he declared, rubbing his leg as it bled out. “Ahhh, there’s the overpass.”, he proclaimed maniacally to himself. Steam was really venting out now over the hood. Inside the engine bay, rotten ignition wires bathed in a rusty lahar belching from the top of the radiator. The engine misfired in protest. “Come on you piece of sh*t!”, Leonard screamed, while the high-top van rocked violently during it’s illegal u-turn. The Econoline limped down Garden Ave on a few cylinders and collapsed like a lathered horse in the hotel parking lot. The blown out exhaust was silenced, and the familiar “Shoook-shoook-shoook” sound issued from up front. It continued for ten minutes as rusty water hit an engine block hotter than the surface of the sun, instantly flashing to steam. The van vomited. Some out of town travelers suddenly had second thoughts, and got back into the cab they had just arrived in.

    Leo stumbled aft into the van and made himself ready to face the day. He reached into the litter piled up on the floor, and retrieved the Axe shower gel he had lifted from Target the day before. While seated in the captain’s chair, he drizzled the soap onto the soiled briefs suspended between his ankles. “That should take care of the stain.”, he said to the content Casper, perched on the stove. He pulled his underwear back up and shuddered, as cool gel met his ass. “Might not be enough time. Might not be enough time…”, he murmured over and over. The Axe was applied to his armpits, and worked into his hair. He discarded his ratty polo on the…sleeping area, and readied himself mentally. A stolen towel draped over his bare shoulder completed the look of a legit hotel guest taking an early morning dip in the frigid pool, he thought.

    “If you don’t leave right now, I’m having you arrested for trespassing.” , the hotel manager barked. He added, “That’s just fu&king disgusting.” Leonard dried what he could on the way to his heavily graffiti’d van, dripping across the parking lot at a brisk pace. “His sh*tpiece won’t start.”, said the manager to the Hayward officer who had just rolled up in his squad car. The officer perched his hands on his utility belt and approached the driver’s window. “I’m LEAVING! Just give me a second!”, Leonard yelled from inside. He worked rust covered wiring back and forth, and jammed his blackened hand into the mechanicals like a Ford proctologist, all while being encumbered by the loose doghouse engine cover. The officer said nothing, shook his head, and went back to sit in his idling Crown Vic. With a few more half-hearted pings, the starter finally engaged, and Leo was off.

    “Got some good stuff BABEE!”, Leonard yelled. He threw the stolen scrap onto the floor in the back of the van, and smiled at his cat. Casper was somewhat startled, not sure what to expect from his human companion. He then sprung out of the open doors in an attempt to flee, but was caught in midair. The cat howled in protest. “Oh, you want to go for a walk? Okay.”, said Leonard, clipping on the red leash.

    Raindrops pelted the fiberglass roof. Really, Leonard knew he should be out there, scavenging. However, he was wholeheartedly unmotivated after rediscovering the six cans of warm Steel Reserve. This was followed by a short trip to the oven, where a half of Fireball lay in wait for a “special time”. “Finish the job, finish the-gotta finish…HAH!” That’s when he heard the sound again. It aroused Casper’s suspicions as well. Finally, a small oblivious grey rodent waddled out from under the trim and sniffed dirty laundry. “What the hell are youuuuu!?”, Leo yelled. The mouse darted back under the paneling. “Arrrgh!”, Leonard screamed, sending his fist right through the thin wood, and bloodying his knuckles on sharp sheetmetal. The man then passed out in a heap.

    Leonard awoke to Casper’s claws on his bare chest. “Ohhhhhh. Gawwwwd.” His…bedding…was totally soaked from the multiple roof leaks. He lifted the heavy Mexican blanket. “What the- fuuuuuuu.” The pungent air of mildew had returned. He reached up into the door mech to open it, spilling out of the back of the Econoline. It was parked in the corner of a vacant lot, in a bad area frequented by destructive youths. The dented, heavily tagged remains of a Renault Medallion rested nearby.

    It had been a prosperous day. Leo wheezed his way back home to the gravel lot. His ripped backpack was heavily laden with stolen electrical cable. It was dark, and he couldn’t quite make out the familiar silhouette of the high top roof. As he neared the Ford, he circled around to the grill to be sure of what he was looking at. Yep, it really was on it’s side. Shattered safety glass made a strangly beautiful azure pile on the gravel. Leo unlocked the rear door, which flopped to earth. “Well that’s just beautiful. What a messssss-aaaAAHHHH!” He shook out the stinky Mexican blanket, and piled personal effects into it.

    “Need a god damn shopping cart.”, Leonard mumbled to himself, walking away from the van for the last time. That’s when it finally hit him.
    “Casper! Casperrrr!”
    (distant) “Mew.”

    • 0 avatar
      bball40dtw

      Cans of Steel Reserve help paint a wonderfully tragic picture.

      Another great piece.

      Remember kids: (Nickelback + Rodents + Steel Reserve) x A Camper Van = Sadness

      • 0 avatar
        NoGoYo

        I’m guessing Steel Reserve is a really cheap, really sh*tty beer? Potentially even worse than, say, Keystone Light or PBR?

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          PBR is slightly better than Natty Ice, Beast, is American still sold? I think we were getting it for $7 or $9/case at the time.

        • 0 avatar
          bball40dtw

          It used to be $1.50 for a 22 oz around East Lansing, MI (Sparty On). A 40 oz would set you back a dollar more. Since it is at least 8% ABV, a Steel Reserve 40 is one of the cheapest ways to get wasted.

          Calling Steel Reserve a sh!tty beer is like calling the Oakland Raiders a sh!tty football team. It doesn’t even deserve to be a beer/malt liquor. King Cobra and Mickeys are craftbrews in comparison.

          • 0 avatar
            NoGoYo

            Sounds like the Night Train of beer, except even Night Train has a Guns N Roses song about it and thus has more prestige.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            @NoGoYo

            Colt 45, FTW.

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            Nigh Train only has prestige among the homeless and metally ill. W Axl Rose would fall into both those groups during different parts of his life. He has always been and will continue to be the later.

            Fun fact: the company that makes Night Train is almost solely responsible for flooding America with terrible “wine”. They make Night Train, Ripple, Thunderbird, Boone’s Farm, Andre Champagne, and Barefoot wines.

          • 0 avatar
            NoGoYo

            Hey man, Colt 45 had TV commercials with a major film star! That makes it a quality product.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Records aside who is the sadder team: the Raiders, the Jaguars, or the Redskins?

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Which team is sadder: the Jets, the Raiders, or the R*dskins?

            I’d argue the NY Jets simply because of complete ineptitude at QB and to a lesser extent the GM’s office (i.e. Revis trade). I say Washington in second for the same QB trials and tribulations. The Raiders have washed up stars (MJD, Run DMC) and an up and comer (L. Murray) but apparently lack the ability to put it all together.

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            Right now? Probably the Raiders. At least the other teams play in stadiums that aren’t San Quentin Prison(East Bay edition) with sewage backups. They also didn’t fire a coach midseason that they just hired. No one wants to play in Oakland. There isn’t any hope of rebuilding.

          • 0 avatar
            Crabspirits

            Perhaps this will clear the air.
            Youtube search “JCpLerLKD2k”

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            I didn’t know “Professional Wine Taster” was synonymous with “Homeless Skid Row Alcoholic”.

            The more you know…

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            In the case of facilities, that is true. In the case of coaching, I don’t think Ryan is long for his job although he was not just hired. What’s amusing is Derek Carr’s stats vs Geno Smith for the season. Carr actually had a four touchdown game in Wk6 for 31pts in a standard league. Smith has had one two touchdown game in the season before he was benched and since being reactivated has accomplished nothing. Oakland has the potential to do something with the players they have next season if they can get it together, IMO. Jets not so much.

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            The Raiders should have stayed with Terrelle Pryor. He is a young QB that runs like a gazelle.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            I had to read up on him as I couldn’t quite remember what his situation had been. I think the GM/team in this case did not wish to give him time to grow and mature, and traded him to Seattle at the end of the season after his 3-6 record as a starter. Ironically a running QB might work out well in a team which already rosters three somewhat significant RBs (or at least two of three were significant at one time). If they gave Pryor two seasons they could have been the crazy run team with an occasional pass for S&G. Then again, Washington did give their big bucks QB some time and he has been a bust the past two seasons and was benched for Colt McCoy of all people.

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Terrelle_Pryor

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            I’d sign Pryor up to be a WR. He’s 6’5″, 240 lbs, and runs a sub 4.4 forty. The 4th and 5th WRs on most NFL teams are garbage anyway.

            He ceratinly has been a waste of talent so far.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            @bball

            Maybe that will be his future since he was cut this year; to suck it up for league minimum as a WR4 or 5 somewhere.

        • 0 avatar
          honda_lawn_art

          It’s a really cheap beer like substance, yes, but with higher alcohol. Not normally associated with a high quality of life.

    • 0 avatar
      friedclams

      As if the Renault Medallion wasn’t an obvious harbinger of doom…

    • 0 avatar
      PunksloveTrumpys

      Amazing, really captures the feel of the man’s…. life.

    • 0 avatar
      zbnutcase

      Laughed so hard it hurt! Great piece, I would like to nominate it as your best!

  • avatar
    NoGoYo

    Shame the front end is missing. I saw a 73 Econoline a while ago and while the back half looked very reminiscent of the 80s Econolines I’m used to, the front end was pretty weird. Round headlights on a van, that’s something I’m not used to!

    • 0 avatar
      Brian P

      Back then, the Federal motor vehicle safety standards only allowed round sealed-beam headlamps, nothing else, so all vehicles had round headlights!

      It wasn’t until late-seventies (IIRC) that they allowed rectangular sealed-beam headlamps, and it wasn’t until sometime mid-eighties (again, IIRC) that they started allowing the modern type of headlights with replaceable bulbs that we have now.

  • avatar
    BobinPgh

    That oven has to be a Tragic Chef.

  • avatar
    readallover

    `…living in a van down by the river…

  • avatar
    oldguy

    Crabspirits;
    Another great piece of work……
    Thankyou!

  • avatar
    raresleeper

    My dad had an 89 Econoline “conversion” van (Christ, what ever happened to the conversion van??).

    A company named “GerWin” or Gerswin did the “conversion”. It was a company I had never heard of, nor have I seen any conversions done by that company. Ever. (The most common conversions I had seen were done by “Osage”, etc. Perhaps its a regional thing??)

    It had tape graphics around it. It had running boards. Cute little green running board lights and inside (*GASP*) rotating captain’s chairs in the midsection, aftermarket rear speakers, and more cute lights around the corners of the interior.

    That Econoline was a slug. Ungodly. I mean pedal to the floor to obtain 70. You fought with it to keep it there. (Think ship captain out in the high seas.)

    As a side note, after slamming into the ass end of a late 80’s Buick Century (which was at a stop) while the van was doing about 25, the only damage to the front of the Econoline was one (yes, I repeat, ONE) broken fog lamp, mounted directly atop of the front bumper, in front of the grill.

    That van was completely utilitarian compared to the last GMC/Chevy conversions they made which had satellite television, etc. But it was one tough pile of steel.

  • avatar
    raresleeper

    I typed. And typed. And typed.

    And… comment eaten!

    You bastards.

    Suppose we need to copy and paste our comment immediately prior to posting BY DEFAULT?!

  • avatar
    raresleeper

    Folks had an 89 Econoline “conversion” van.

    Captains chairs in the middle row that (*GASP*) rotated, which resulted in some pretty nasty stomach aches when riding at highway speeds backwards!

    Large windows on the sides in which only the smallest part of them would open. They were quite drafty, as well, to say the least.

    Of course, who could forget the custom headliner with surround lights and some cute little green lights mounted on the running boards.

    It was a ghastly creature which you had to fight with to keep it at 70. Think Captain of a ship on the high seas.

    I cringe to think of the mileage obtained, but god, that thing could take a pounding.

    One day my dad ran right smack dab into a mid 80’s Buick Century. The little Buick was at a dead stop and the van was doing about 25 mph.

    The ass end of the Buick was pushed completely down and smashed in badly. The Econoline? One broken fog lamp, mounted in the front bumper. In fact, nothing but a smashed lens. Lol!!

    The conversion company was called “GerWin” or Gerswin or something. I have never seen another conversion done by that company.

    Perhaps those conversions were regional jobs? ??

  • avatar
    raresleeper

    Update: 2nd comment eaten.

    Smh.

    See ya.

  • avatar
    Russycle

    My parents briefly owned a late-60s Chevy camper van with a similar brown/white paint scheme. I still remember riding out a sand storm at Lake Havasu in it, and getting shoved into a snow bank by an out of control pick up in Yosemite. Thanks for the memories.

  • avatar
    Superdessucke

    I bet if I dig deep enough, I can find a 2005 mortgage on this thing for $90,000. It is now in foreclosure, needless to say.

  • avatar
    bickel84

    Hmm, wonder how all that graffiti got on there? Maybe it was abandoned somewhere?


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