Rare Rides: Luxury Van Time With a 2017 Ford Transit Explorer Conversion

Today’s Rare Ride was sort of off the radar as a present day vehicular category until your author was presented with one in an ad. It’s the sort of luxurious conversion van people bought to take their grandkids on vacation in the Nineties and early 2000s, but updated for today.

Presenting the Ford Transit Explorer Conversion. It’s quite large.

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Rare Rides: The 1986 Lands Precedent Sportswagon, Ultimate Obscure Luxury Van Time

A gray, two-tone shape crossed the screen of my phone. What followed was one of those moments where one has no idea how to identify the thing upon which they are gazing. The Facebook ad was titled “1986 Other Other,” but what was it?

Presenting the Lands Precedent Sportswagon, from 1986.

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Rare Rides: A McDonald's Edition 1986 Ford E-150 Econoline Conversion

The Rare Rides series has featured around 10 special edition cars in past, depending on how generous you are with the term.

And while every special edition presented here thus far was designed to add some padding to a manufacturer’s bottom line, today’s special edition McDonald’s van had a much more benevolent purpose.

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The Dealer Who Swindled $6 Billion From General Motors

In the opening moments of the above scene from the flick “Fargo,” Oldsmobile dealership sales manager Jerry Lundegaard is working up some bogus paperwork to cover his tracks with General Motors Acceptance Corporation (GMAC). We can infer that he sold some floor-planned cars and did not pay back GMAC, which was the impetus for the movie’s storyline of his bumbling attempt to extort money from his father-in-law.

Jerry’s store may have been “out of trust” with GMAC on a few dozen 1987 Cutlasses, but that pales in comparison to the scheme concocted by New York car dealer John McNamara.

Between 1980 and 1991, McNamara convinced GMAC to advance him $6.2 billion to pay for 248,000 conversion vans that did not exist. It was one of the largest Ponzi schemes in history and ended up costing GMAC $436 million, equal to $725 million in today’s dollars.

We would like to show you a photo of McNamara but none are to be found. That may be because it is believed he went into the Witness Protection Program a few years after his conviction for fraud in 1992. Just picture Lundegaard with a really big brain.

McNamara’s brilliant swindle was deliciously simple. It was based on one undeniable truth he learned from his years of owning a Buick-Pontiac-GMC dealership on Long Island: General Motors and GMAC were too incompetent and too bureaucratic to figure out that they were being scammed.

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  • FreedMike “Tanner Lee Hellbusch” is the best perp name I’ve heard in some time. Props to the police for this!
  • ToolGuy Road and Track are two different things. I will not track any of my road cars, and almost any single thing I might do to make a road car better on the track would tend to make it worse on the road. If I had a billion dollars today, I would buy and track an Ariel Atom (1,349 lbs), but never drive it on the road.[actually - Road, Track and Truck are *three* different things, but I digress]Will I miss the sound of lunatics driving performance ICE Mopars irresponsibly on public roads? No I will not. (Will the torque of performance Stellantis EVs get the maniacs in trouble even more easily? Probably.)Will I miss doing oil changes and pumping smelly gasoline? Nope.
  • FreedMike “…and that means you must also select the 10-speed automatic transmission. “If it’s the same 10 speed from the Mustang, avoid it like scabies.
  • 6-speed Pomodoro I'm not opposed to an EV, but I have no idea what one would have to have or look like to compel me to buy one. The three things I look for in a car are seat comfort, sound, and a stick shift. I generally think I'm waiting for at least the generation after the next generation for engineers to figure out what makes EVs worth driving. That puts us around 2030, so why worry about it? But who knows. Maybe Honda will ace the compact sports EV with an s600amp and pull me in.
  • THX1136 Agree with SCE, the cost alone puts me out of the equation. Would I like an EV Charger, sure but see previous sentence.