By on June 5, 2015

12 - 1970 Ford Econoline Junkyard Find - picture courtesy of Murilee Martin

The second-generation Ford Econoline van abandoned the forward-control layout of its mid-engined predecessor and was a big sales success. I still see these vans in junkyards (in fact, I found one in Sweden last year), but I tend to photograph only the most hantavirus-laden campers, attractively weathered window vans, or Chlamydia-enhanced customs. I saw this workhorse cargo Econoline (the technical term, coined by angry neighbors, for a featureless Detroit van with no windows is “Molester Van” or “Free Candy Van”) in a Denver yard recently, and it seemed like a good time to shoot this worn-out piece of van history.
19 - 1970 Ford Econoline Junkyard Find - picture courtesy of Murilee Martin

It appears that someone might have been living down by the river in this Econoline, based on the shag carpeting and insulation.

03 - 1970 Ford Econoline Junkyard Find - picture courtesy of Murilee Martin

The driver’s door top hinge broke, was rewelded, and then broke again. This may have been the camel-back-breaking straw that sent this van to The Crusher.

24 - 1970 Ford Econoline Junkyard Find - picture courtesy of Murilee Martin

I had no idea that Econolines came with the slide-out-step option, like my Dodge A100. These things are cool, but also a shin-bashing hassle.

25 - 1970 Ford Econoline Junkyard Find - picture courtesy of Murilee Martin

Stickers with grenade logos are very popular these days. Anybody have an idea of what FS! stands for?


So much better than a forward-control van!

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56 Comments on “Junkyard Find: 1970 Ford Econoline Custom 200 Van...”


  • avatar
    blueflame6

    Check the hubcap, this might be the newest vehicle upon which I’ve seen the Ford shield, Anybody know definitively when it was phased out?

    Aside from that, while this example is obviously pretty well worn out, the design has a certain mid-60s charm and honesty to it. I like the design of the instrument cluster especially.

    • 0 avatar
      jhefner

      The Ford blue oval disappeared from Ford automobiles in 1949, replaced by heraldry like this. Our ’67 Country Sedan wagon, ’70 Greenbrier (the passenger version of the Econoline), and early seventies F-150 had a shield like this instead of the blue oval.

      The blue oval returned as part of the “Quality is Job 1” champagne that went along with Ford restructuring their product line starting in 1981.

      • 0 avatar
        FormerFF

        Are you sure about the “Greenbrier” name? I do recall seeing Corvair based Greenbrier vans, and Wikipedia reports that Chevrolet used that name on a mid sized station wagon from 1969 to 1972.

        • 0 avatar
          jhefner

          FormerFF; thanks for pointing that out. Before the Country Sedan wagon, Dad had a Cheverolet Greenbrier, the forward control van version of the Corvair. That fact, plus the fact that our Econoline van was two tone green (the dark green shade matched this van), played tricks with my memory.

          I remember now that our van had a nickname — the “Jolly Green Giant.”

        • 0 avatar
          jhefner

          Alright, it took two hours for my brain cells to wake up; but I finally remembered, it was the Club Wagon trim of the Ford Econoline van. (The subject matter is a Custom 200.) Ours looked just like this one:

          http://www.autobooksbishko.com/Items/1970%20Fordtruck%20Sales%20Literature/5593.html

          Though I could not imagine Dad driving it through water on the edge of a waterfall.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            I mean that seems like an excellent idea in a van full of family on skinny tires, with RWD.

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        BTW, the Crown Vic was using the Ford crest as a hood ornament through 87. In 88 it got a model specific hood ornament instead.

        http://www.curbsideclassic.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/Front.jpg
        http://imganuncios.mitula.net/1987_ford_crown_victoria_9220055421804006800.jpg

  • avatar
    319583076

    Bruce Berry was a working man, he used to load that Econoline van.

  • avatar
    RideHeight

    That much clean 45 year-old sheetmetal is like porn to a rustbelter.

  • avatar
    tonyola

    I briefly drove a couple of these vans back in the day. Ford was the first of the big three to move the engine forward and give their vans something resembling a hood instead of the flat fronts used before.

    • 0 avatar
      Drzhivago138

      Dodge also did that in ’71, but I feel like Ford was the first to give their van some resemblance to the pickup truck (though it would be more fully realized in ’75).

    • 0 avatar
      jhefner

      It made for a very hot ride, even with the cover Dad had made for the engine cover. And working on the engine was a real bear; the spark plugs ended up at floor level, and I remember having to turn the steering wheel to move the tie rods out of the way so that Dad could get to the oil filter. So the second generation was not pleasant to work on or drive in the summer; the later generations moved the engine a bit further forward, and I assume were easier to work on.

  • avatar
    FormerFF

    When I was in middle school, the school I went to transported us in vans like this one, and a number of them had that door operated slide out step, which was convenient for the smaller kids but often made a loud creaking sound when the door opened.

    I do think the 1971 Chevy and Dodge vans made the Fords look kind of frumpy. I have a lot of nostalgia for these old vans, we used a second generation Chevy and a third generation Ford as tow vehicles for our racing effort, and they always gave us good service.

  • avatar
    danio3834

    My dad had one of these, in orange, when he worked as a bush pilot in Thunder Bay and North Bay in northern Ontario in the 70’s. He too insulated the sides as much as possible just to try and keep the heat in, and also installed a welder’s curtain behind the front seats.

    • 0 avatar
      FormerFF

      We had our Ford van spray foamed. It cut down on the squeaks and rattles as well.

    • 0 avatar
      iMatt

      I can’t imagine running an old vehicle like that up there. I spent quite some time in Red Lake (NW of T-Bay) and had to make do with an old Mazda throughout the winters. That thing sure had a hard time starting every morning even with “modern” fuel injection. Didn’t even have the extra coin to buy new tires let alone dedicated winters. Bush pilots may be a lot of things but being rich sure ain’t one of them…

  • avatar
    FAHRVERGNUGEN

    I learned to drive on a ’72 I6/3MT blue, “passenger” window version. So bare bones, all it had were the ribs. Loudest damned vehicle.

    Non-gearhead Mom and dad bolted a back seat from a VW van across the back, and literally tied down a maple bench seat longitudinally under the left side windows. Every turn to the left and that bench seat would rear up on it’s right legs.

    Added ‘curtains’ from the fabric shop, strung with fishing line (later, detachable mini-curtain ‘cafe’ rods). In retrospect, I should be glad they didn’t install plywood wood-grain paneling, which would probably have split in an accident, and killed anyone onboard unlucky enough to not have a seatbelt.

    Oh the humanity.

    • 0 avatar
      3XC

      My father’s 1983 Chevy Van had two buckets up front and no seats in the back, so as a 5 year old, my parents would bring a folding lawn chair and put it between the front seats. I’d sit with my feet up on the warm engine cowl, too low in my seat to see over the dash and out the front glass. If dad had to slam on the brakes, my feet were braced and I’d barely slide forward out of my chair.

      Nobody knew better. We had that van for 7 years, eventually some mismatched captain’s chairs from some other van made their way into the back.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    My maternal grandfather had one of the old forward control vans back in the 1960s, it unfortunately had the smaller of the two 6s and he referred to it derisively as the “Sufferin’ Six” because he always seemed to be spurring the heck out of it to get it to the velocities he desired.

    • 0 avatar
      MRF 95 T-Bird

      Most likely it had the 170 Ci-6. The windowed and bench seat, chrome trimmed version of the early Econoline had the Falcon name. I have fond memories of going to summer camp in one.

  • avatar
    jhefner

    We had a 1970 Econoline, the passenger version. Besides the windows, it had a (very heavy!) pair of bench seats in the back along with the pair of seats in the front. (It may have had a third bench seat in the very back; I think it stayed out for most the later time we had it.) It also had an aftermarket air conditioning unit, and a green vinyl covering for the floor instead of carpeting. Dad had a cover made to fit over the engine cover, if I remember correctly. I almost forgot about the slide out step, but it did indeed have one.

    What I did not forget was how noisy it was. Lots of engine noise, as you might expect with the engine partway in the cabin and no carpeting. It wasn’t so much the body shell itself that squeaked (thought it did), but the double side and back doors banging against each other and the frame as the body flexed. Add in the wind noise and the loud A/C system, and it made for a loud cabin at highway speeds. The radio could barely be heard over it all; my first Walkman tape player and headphones took care of that in later years.

    But there were seven of us kids in the family when Dad bought the van, and it was more roomy than the Country Sedan wagon. We would take a trip every summer for a week at a state park, Dad would hook up the boat and load it with bikes and other stuff along with the luggage and food in the back. It was not fast, but it pulled it all without complaint.

    Besides vacations, I have two main memories about that van; one was the very first trip we took to Arkansas when it was brand new. It broke down somewhere along the way and had to be towed to the “Ford house” for repairs; after that, it was reliable. The other was my tiny Mom manhandling that van with the best of them on her grocery runs. She also bought groceries for the church rectory, and they got a kick out of seeing poteet Mom pull up with her Econoline van.

    As my brothers and sisters got older, the Econoline was replaced with a Volare wagon. But Dad kept the ’67 Country Sedan wagon well into the mid-1980s; it was definitely his pet car as the Taurus is mine.

    • 0 avatar
      pragmatic

      Wow feel like I’m reading my our story here. My father had a 1966 (7?) Dodge wagon that needed replacing. Found a 1970 Ford Van at the local dealer. Seats for 8 (two bench and two bucket)at the time there were 9 of us (7 kids and mom and dad). He wanted the van and my mother said “if you didn’t smoke we could afford it.” He gave up smoking on the spot and bought the van ($3300 brand new). IL6 (240CID) auto, manual steering, am radio. By 1977 it was well rusted and ended up being stolen while my father was at work (FDNY) and used in the robbery of the Holiday Inn. Got $1800 in insurance and bought a 1977 (next generation) E150. Again seating 8 (now there were 10 of us, my sister being born in 1972). For $5400 got the Van, deluxe interior, IL6 (300CID), 3 on the column manual, manual steering, and am radio. I learned to drive on that (in NYC) and got it from dad when he retired. I junked it in 1995 with 225,000 miles (major rust was the reason).

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    Soundtrack: youtube.com/watch?v=AZC6K9GhjCE

    Bruce’s eyes opened up to the clickty-clack sounds of a train passing overhead. He felt his aged and scrawled beard touch the top of his chest as he pulled himself up from the floor of the Econoline. He laid against the blue carpeting on the van’s wall, and turned on his yellow plastic electric lantern. His pupils adjusted from the darkness, he took in the rusty smell of the van, and was again immersed in his current life. Looking to his right he saw the empty bottle of Mad Dog which served as his companion the previous evening accompanied by a series of empty liquor bottles from evenings hence. His hangover was very mild; he reached to the left and chugged potable water from an old canteen. So much time had passed between Bruce’s former life and his present one he could hardly remember his ex-wife and more importantly his son. He looked down on his left forearm and noted the “AIRBORNE” tattoo and briefly remembered his service in the Iraq War. He suddenly felt a familiar burst of anger. Angry at how the country treated him. Angry at how Melanie left him and took Johnny. Angry at how he ended up living in a van on the riverfront. Bruce stood up and flung open the rear doors of the Econoline, he turned his head surveying the makeshift camp of homeless. Another man near the van turned over and then covered his face with his arms as he saw Bruce’s angry glare. Bruce shut the van’s doors behind him and he thought, somehow I must use this emotion.

    Bruce sprinted down to the riverfront and slowly began to jog through the tall weeds, rocks, and broken glass. The morning broke all around him as he attempted to maintain a pace through the obstacles. Breathing heavy from being a bit out of shape, he persevered through the fresh pain in his lower legs. Pain was good; pain meant you were still alive. He relished the feeling and let his anger take over as his eyes adjusted to the new morning. From the railroad bridge, to the stadium, to overpass on his right beginning to buzz with early morning traffic his breathing improved and he kept running. He approached the riverfront sidewalk and picked up pace as the morning sun shone on the river to his left. This was the feeling he had been missing and he threw up his hands as he approached the end of the half mile riverwalk as if he had won the marathon of one. He leaned against the riverwalk’s railing to spit and hung on to it as he sat down momentarily to catch his breath. A few moments into his rest a stadium security guard approached his position and Bruce sprung up and took a defensive posture. The unarmed security guard froze and laid his hand on his radio. Bruce looked him square in the eye and saw the fear. He revealed his yellowing teeth in a smile to the security guard and began to jog back the way he came.

    An hour or so had passed and now the morning sun shone down over the camp. Bruce slowly jogged toward his van to find the driver’s door was open and a teenager climbing out of it. Bruce accelerated toward the open door and slammed his fist into the teenager holding his sleeping bag throwing the boy into the driver’s door. Sensing someone approaching him on the left, he stood fast and felt his left leg raise and kick another teenager in the chest knocking him down. The second teenager got up and ran way as Bruce’s rage engulfed him and a third approached with a knife from behind the driver’s side door.

    “Come on” Bruce yelled as he waved him forward. The third teenager looked down at his brother bleeding on the grass beneath the door and froze. Bruce looked into his eyes and saw the fear.
    “COME ON!” Bruce now commanded. The third teenager turned and ran away as Bruce lowered his defensive stance and observed the scene. The first teenager appeared to be unconscious, breathing, but unconscious. The Econoline’s door hinge had broken in the melee and part his sleeping bag was now covered with mud and blood. He slowly walked to the rear end of the Econoline where he was confronted by an older black man with white hair, dressed in blue jeans, and a sweater full of holes surrounded by several other homeless people.

    “What you doin’ McCarthy? What you doin’?” the man asked rhetorically.
    “I’m angry. I’m damned angry Richie” Bruce replied.
    “We all damn angry McCarthy. So what you doin’?” Richie said calmly with his hands in his pockets. “You just gonna beat up dem boys, scare the wits outta all of us? Get the cops down in here?” he continued. Bruce rapidly approached Richie and stood eye to eye, but saw no fear.
    “I ain’t ‘fraid of you McCarthy. So you angry?” Richie said with a chuckle and the aroma of bad breath. “What you doin’?”
    Bruce stood motionless and couldn’t find an answer.
    “I don’t know what I’m doing” Bruce said with a slight stutter.
    “Maybe it time to go back home McCarthy. Maybe it time” Richie said as he took the cigarette from his ear and pointed into the open van.
    “This ain’t where you belong, and that ain’t what you should be doing” gesturing to the empty liquor bottles.
    “Give me an order” Bruce said calmly.
    “Git soldier boy, git home. This ain’t where you belong.” Richie said as he lit the cigarette with a Marine Corps Zippo. He put the Zippo back in his pocket and handed Bruce some loose change as a parting gift.

    Bruce nodded to Richie and jogged past the crowd away from the camp under the highway overpass until he reached the city’s streets. His foul odor and worn clothes earned him the ire of the local commuters as he kept pace toward the familiar Salvation Army shelter a few blocks down. Running somehow made him whole again and he switched his lane back and forth to avoid all of the obstacles presented by the big city. He stopped at a pay phone and stared at his reflection on the chrome plating as he spent his going away present on a telephone call to his brother. The dialtone kept ringing and ringing in a clickty-clack fashion as the train ran overhead those many months in the van. Bruce was suddenly struck with the notion this was all just a dream, a dream in which he never wished to end.

    “Hello” a voice said into the phone…

    • 0 avatar
      fincar1

      One of your better efforts. Good read.

    • 0 avatar
      Roberto Esponja

      Excellent.

    • 0 avatar
      VolandoBajo

      @28-Cars Great story…with a very real feel to it.

      Too real for comfort, for me.

      Post 9/11, when my son was seven, and we were living just a few miles from a refinery and storage tanks, which were just across the river from the Philadelphia airport. Too easy a layout not to expect someone to try to connect the dots.

      So we camped out fifteen miles south, for the thirty day limit we were allowed. My wife would come down most nights and stay with us, but occasionally went home because she didn’t think it was worth the hassle. But she was glad our son slept away from the obvious target(s) we lived near.

      And in the camp was another Bruce, a man named John. A veteran with demons, not the least of which was Mad Dog and its cousins. But John had put the MD 40/40 behind him for several days or a few weeks now, and was trying to get his act together.

      Bridges burned with family, bridges burned with the Sally, but we were able to get him hooked up with a church inner-city mission, so he would have a place to go when his time at the state park ran out.

      Even spoke with his brother, who still was willing to try to help him, but John had straightened out, then went back to drinking again, over and over, so he had little hope, and warned us as well.

      Still, he tried, just as we did.

      Having quit drinking myself, close to fifteen years earlier, and before I met my wife, I knew the battle well, though I only fought it twice, gave up the first time, and winning my war the second.

      So I could relate to his struggle…and related I did. Tried all I could to help him get his documents straightened out, back in the VA system, the place to land when he had to leave the park, etc.

      I even went to the mission with him, or to see him, at least once a week, for about three weeks. Called him a few times a week, took him to a few meetings.

      Then one time he wasn’t there…went out one afternoon, hadn’t been back for two days.

      Likely prognosis: back to his old ways.

      A few days later, it was confirmed, through someone else who had gone back out, and had since returned to the mission: John had gone back to drinking once again.

      And except for the exact address, “living in a van, down by the river.”

      You can only help so much, when a person will not continue towards a path of recovery.

      And though the mechanism varies, as Neil Young wrote, after one of his bandmates in Crazy Horse OD’d:

      “Every junkie’s like a setting sun.”

      That “Hello” at the end of your story was probably the nth time that had occurred, and it was probably yet another beginning of another cycle that would eventually end up back in a van, “down by the river”.

      John was a fine, and nice gentleman, when he was sober. But he could not, or would not, do what he needed to do to keep from repeating the cycle.

      I have no answers. Just an observation of the larger picture, of which you accurately have painted one chapter.

      And it is good art, as well as reality reporting. For it captures clearly the exact nature of the way it is, for too many…

      But before I go, a word from my sponsor: “There is One who has all power; may you find Him now.”

      I hope for your sake that this is just a story you have learned to portray, accurately, and not a painful memory of a loved one.

      Yet somehow, I get the idea that you might be the one who answered: “Helllo…”.

  • avatar
    dal20402

    I had a couple of buddies as a teenager who were into any and all vans. Very handsome (and popular with the ladies) identical twins of Italian ancestry, they had a van of this age with some asthmatic small block (I can’t remember which) and curtains and carpet in the back, and then a late-’70s conversion van with a 460. They liked to jump the 460-powered van over all kinds of stuff, and reported that the police in their small town just ignored their hijinks in favor of giving speeding tickets to out-of-towners. I don’t really want to know what happened in the back of the older van.

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    Today’s Rare Ebay Find (goes along with heraldry logo question above), a 72 Galaxie Brougham. I think these are largely forgotten.

    http://www.ebay.com/itm/Ford-Galaxie-Brougham-/271879639724?forcerrptr=true&hash=item3f4d4a12ac&item=271879639724

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      10K? Did the seller eat lead paint chips as a child?

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        Ha, I hadn’t noticed. Adds to the rare factor, crazy seller. That’s MKIV money, son!

      • 0 avatar
        bumpy ii

        It’s the only one that didn’t rust to oblivion in three years?

        • 0 avatar
          CoreyDL

          Lookie, no rust on this either. And it’s so “Vanden Plas” for Ford. Granada Ghia! I think that translates roughly to “Pleeb Brougham.”

          http://www.ebay.com/itm/Ford-Crown-Victoria-83K-MILES-/271885406980?forcerrptr=true&hash=item3f4da21304&item=271885406980

          • 0 avatar
            bumpy ii

            “THIS IS A NEARLY 40 YEAR OLD IMMACULATE & NEAR FLAWLESS ORIGINAL SURVIVOR”

            Haha, if it’s an “original survivor” there is no way it’s “immaculate & near flawless”. You can have one or the other in a ’70s domestic, not both.

            GM’s idea of ’70s luxury was “we spent a week in the Riviera drunk and stoned”. Chrysler’s was “a friend of ours spent a week in the Riviera drunk and stoned”. Ford’s was “we found a brochure for the Riviera at the Detroit airport one day”.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            @bumpy II

            Made me chuckle.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            LOL

            I’d put those in different order!

            I think the Ford version was decidedly better in things like the Lincoln Mark or the ContiTC, than the overly gauche Caddies. Mercuries looked alright, but then again I like the Buick and Olds models, especially Olds for more restrained brougham.

            Chrysler is always the worst. I liked the fuselage long and low styling, but everything else seemed more crappy and false brougham. I guess my list of approved Brougham-taste goes:

            Lincoln
            Olds
            Buick
            Mercury
            Cadillac
            Pontiac (like Grand Ville/Bonneville)
            Ford
            AMC
            Chrysler
            Chevrolet
            Dodge/Plymouth

          • 0 avatar
            WhiskeyRiver

            That is an interesting post. Titled “1976 Ford Crown Victoria” and sold by a dealer called “Car Chasers LLC,” it is indeed a Granada and not a Crown Vic. It appears to be a Granada Grand Monarch Ghia.

            The Crown Victoria moniker wasn’t even revived until 1980. LTD was the top of the line until then.

            I wouldn’t hire this dealer to “chase” me a car. No telling what he would produce.

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    This also gets a Rare Ebay Find.

    1970 Torino King Cobra Streamline!

    http://www.ebay.com/itm/Ford-Torino-King-Cobra-/161716627350?forcerrptr=true&hash=item25a70fe796&item=161716627350

    Amaze.

  • avatar
    Matt Foley

    Hey, it’s my old van!

    But seriously folks, I hope Murilee is wrong and it wasn’t that broken hinge that sent this rust-free Econoline to the junkyard. It looks like only six bolts hold that hinge in place, and it’s probably the same hinge Ford put on all vans from this generation and the next. What a waste.

  • avatar
    Jimal

    That’s in pretty good shape considering most commercial vehicles from that era were used as commercial vehicles. Looks like Robins Egg blue under the green respray too. Shame.

  • avatar
    CJinSD

    There were FS grenades in WWII. They used sulfur trioxide and chlorosulfuric acid to serve as a smoke bomb with the potential to kill in close quarters. No idea if this has anything to do with the sticker.

  • avatar
    ex-x-fire

    My parent had a 74 or so, bought it new. It was like a mini motorhome as it had a wrap around back seat (w/ table) that could be turned into a bed. It had a closet that we would hid in because we didn’t get to go to a lot of places, mom didn’t like that. I do remember going to see Star Wars at the drive in in it, like 5 times. By 1980 it was so rusty that my parents junked it.

  • avatar

    I’m wondering why it says “poop” on the windshield. Ok, it might be P0DP, but poop is more entertaining.

    That’s an interesting collection in the background – a Saturn Relay, a Mercury Villager that someone has graffittied one side of, and a white with tan interior 3rd gen base Voyager that is the twin to the one my parents still own.

  • avatar
    MRF 95 T-Bird

    Ford built a bunch of these as special models for the phone company aka. Ma Bell, IIRC Sears as well. The passengers side had windows like the passenger version of the Club Wagon. The drivers side was windowless like the cargo van.

    Back during the late 70’s van craze a friend of mine had a 70 Club wagon that he customized with the obligatory Crager SS rims, metal flake paint and shag carpet interior. Ford Pinto buckets fit perfectly as replacements for the standard low-backs. I one gave him a hand removing the cylinder head and manifold of the robust 240 Ci-6. Working inside the van was fairly easy. However the body integrity of these was quite shabby. The rear looked wavy to the point where you could see the spot welds of the rear wheel wells through the quarter panels. This area was quite prone to rot as well as the rockers. He even had to have the frame welded at the steering box. The later models 73-74 like this one appeared to be better put together and longer lasting. Back in the late 70’s one in this condition would be easily sold in a day.

    • 0 avatar
      Scoutdude

      That style of van is called a display van and they were on the standard order sheet into the 80’s. No they weren’t popular but they weren’t a special order just a standard order code that most dealers didn’t stock on the lot but then again work vans are typically ordered not bought off the lot.

  • avatar
    415s30

    I saw one that same color going towards the golden gate the other day, so cool. I don’t know if you covered it Murilee but that lot of Citroen in Denver is up for sale.

  • avatar
    VolandoBajo

    Once owned an early and even more primitive version of these things: a 55 GMC 3/4 ton panel truck, BOF, or more precisely, Body still predominantly on the Frame, bought cheap from a co-worked to have something to haul my British motorcycle and to sleep in at race weekends.

    Stiffest shocks in the Western Hemisphere. Rattled and banged incessantly. Finally bought a then-fashionable among hippies, etc., set of brass bells, called Bells of Sarna, and hung them on a cord across the middle of the van. Then when you hit a bump, you had both a rhythm section and some melody, not quite so nerve-wracking.

    And when it threw a bottom pulley on a Saturday morning, on my way to my reserve unit drill, a country mechanic priced a GMC pulley for me, for over a hundred 1960’s dollars, probably worth several hundred dollars today. Ouch!

    Then he taught me something that has stayed with me all my life: he called a nearby Chevy dealer, and ordered the same part under a different part number. Cost, about fifteen dollars or so.

    When I, in my youthful naiveta, asked why the difference, he said that GMC division had much more overheard, and a lower sales volume to allocate that overhead to, hence their markup on identical parts was much higher.

    But whether it was one of those monster panel trucks, or one of the Econolines of slightly later, they were a motorcycle rider’s best friend, especially if you rode a motorcycle that used British-made Lucas electrics. Those electrical parts were so famous for outages that British bike riders (Norton, Triumph, BSA, even one Matchless) referred to Lucas as the Prince of Darkness.

    But the GMC truck taught me a good bit about cost vs. value in automobiles, and the Norton taught me how to diagnose and repair electrical problems. I had about a thousand dollars total in those two used vehicles, but got my money’s worth in education.

    After that GMC truck, my first VW Bus, a 66, seemed like a luxury car. A lot of miles and a lot of roads since then. But still, lessons learned and fun times had.

    But the nicest more or less barebones van of that era that I recall was a Corvair van that belonged to two brothers in a local band. Modest interior, but very roadworthy.

    I wish they still made more of those inexpensive box vans. Or maybe they do, and I just haven’t looked for them very much. But I think one with a bit of towing capacity might work better than a pickup truck for my son’s mowing and snow removal business. Seems like all the ones I see now are full of windows, rows of seats, etc. Never just a box with a couple of side doors, and a couple of seats in the front.

    Sort of an American, higher-powered version of a VW bus. But like VW buses, mostly gone, and when not, overpriced.

    Ten K they want for that thing? Good grief, Charley Brown. It probably didn’t cost that when new.


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  • ravenuer: I’ve argued this point with friends….you have to eat no matter where you are.
  • PrincipalDan: @Ajla – I agree. Last payment will be made at end of May on my current ride. Being a Toyota...

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