By John F. Quilter
All text and photographs by, and copyright of, the Author unless otherwise stated.
Ford launched the first generation Econoline van in 1961. It was modelled after the English Ford Thames 400E which was also a forward control vehicle with the engine under a box between the seats. The early Econoline was badged as a Falcon and used the original Falcon engine, an OHV inline six of only 144 CID (2.3 litres), this was later supplemented with a 170CID version and some were as large as 240CID. A manual 3 speed gearbox was standard with an automatic optional. A V8 engine did not come about until the second generation Econoline circa 1968.
Whitebox now has launched a version of the window van, known as a Club Wagon, in two tone, metallic turquoise and white. A variant of this casting was previously seen in a Mexican part works series. Relatively inexpensive, these make great opportunities for conversion into other versions such as the pickup and service/delivery van without side windows.
The pickup conversion required sawing off the rear two thirds of the body above the belt line, removing the two rear bench seats, creating a rounded cab back, with wrap around corner windows (although only the deluxe versions had the corner windows) and affixing a spare tire to the inside of the bed. The tall “FORD” script on the tail gate was created with thin wire, glued in place then painted white to replicate the raised lettering on the actual truck. Some door seams had to be filled in and other seams scribed in on the bed sides. I chose to finishing it in a factory teal colour as seen on a number of examples on Google images. Interior details include a teal fascia inner door panels, and black rubber floor covering.
The no-window van was a bit simpler as it just required removal of the seats and filling of the side windows. I used printer’s metal glued to the inside and filled the openings with styrene plastic smoothed off with automotive body shop finishing putty. Care must be taken with much smoothing and sanding to get a good surface before painting. My only decision was, do I leave the bumpers chrome (that would have been an optional extra) or painted white as would have been supplied on standard models.