Junkyard Find: 1972 Ford Econoline "BIG CHEESE"
What kind of discarded vehicles look like they'd have the most interesting stories to tell? Customized Detroit vans from the 1960s and 1970s, of course! Today's Junkyard Find is just such a van, a Colorado second-generation Econoline called BIG CHEESE.
I think this van began its career as a work vehicle for a market or caterer in the Denver metropolitan region, then became an individual's personal transportation in later decades.
There are faded illustrations of cheese and (I think) meat that appear to date back to the 1970s.
It has plenty of now-indecipherable lettering on its flanks.
The color appears to have been a vivid cheddar-ish yellow to begin with.
I asked among my acquaintances whose families have been in this region for generations and nobody can recall a company that had a cheese-themed delivery Econoline like this one. Perhaps it started out in St. Louis or Salt Lake City and moved to Colorado after its delivery days were over.
The build tag says it was built at the Lorain plant in Ohio.
The owner of Rosen-Novak Ford came to a bad end two decades ago.
This is a long-wheelbase Econoline cargo van, which makes it a SuperVan.
You could get double-hinged doors or a single big sliding door on the right side of the '72 SuperVan. This one has the slider.
The original engine was a 302-cubic-inch ( 5.0-liter) Windsor V8, rated at 140 horsepower. This might even be that engine, though I'd bet that this van has had at least a couple of swaps during its long life.
The transmission is a patriotic three-speed column-shift manual, colloquially known as a " three-on-the-tree." A three-speed Cruise-O-Matic automatic was available as an option (but would have been seen as just wasted money by most cargo-van buyers in the early 1970s).
Naturally, someone has installed tube headers on the engine.
The first-generation Econoline vans were built for the 1961 through 1967 model years. They were based on the Falcon chassis and had mid-mounted engines located between the front seats. The second-generation Econolines were based on the F-Series truck chassis.
The engine was still located pretty far back in the 1968-1974 Econolines, but they were no longer true forward-control vans.
There isn't much of a hood here. The following generation of Econoline got a distinctive long snout.
There's a bit of paneling and a crude curtain inside.
Some comfortable captain-style seats have been installed up front.
Not exactly luxurious, but not just bare steel.
A Chrysler AM radio of early-to-mid-1970s vintage was installed on the left side of the driver's seat, presumably to prevent theft. Yes, thieves stole mono AM radios 50 years ago.
That radio must be hooked up to a couple of speakers because there's an aftermarket fader control on the dash.
There's a J.C. Penney "Pinto" branded CB radio. CB went to 40 channels in 1977, so this 23-channel unit was obsolete when Jimmy Carter was still in office. J.C. Penney sold Pinto mopeds during the 1970s.
There's plenty of rust to be found.
We may never know the full history of BIG CHEESE, but we can assume that this van had numerous adventures.
The new Ford Econoline carries everything… including the kitchen sink.
[Images: The Author]
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