By Maz Woolley
All text and photographs by, and copyright of, the Author.
The first generation of the Ford E-Series van ran from 1961 to 1967 and was a very common sight in films and TV shows set in US cities in the Sixties. They were widely used by Utilities like Bell Telephone and were also a popular van for conversion into a camper.
Based on the mechanical underpinnings of the compact Ford Falcon automobile, the Ford Econoline was said to be based on sketches started in 1957 when the British Ford Thames 400E it resembles was launched in the UK. The van competed with the Volkswagen Transporter, Chevy Greenbrier and Dodge A100.
The vehicle was sold in van and pick up form as an Econoline and the station bus passenger van was sold as a Ford Falcon Club Wagon.
The van was fitted with a 2.4 Litre inline 6 initially and engine sizes grew to 2.8 Litre and then 3.9 Litre over the years. The front mounted engine was in the centre of the cab and gave the van “nose heavy” characteristics so Ford fitted a 165 lb (75 kg) counterweight over the rear wheels.
The van was also sold as a Mercury. Initially made in Canada the Mercury production was later shifted to the US and was always a low volume exercise.
This article looks at two of the many Econolines produced by M2 to 1:64 scale diecast in China. M2 are premium price 1:64 models which compete with AutoWorld and Greenlight rather than Mattel Hot Wheels. M2 have produced these models as custom vehicles, lowered and with special paint jobs as well as the more conventional versions seen here.
1965 Mercury Econoline Van
The Mercury van differs little to the Ford other than in badging, but this passenger van would have been badged as a Falcon Club van when sold by Ford. The side view shows that the split two tone paint has been very neatly applied and the windows have been made in such a way that they push fit into the aperture to give a more realistic finish.
The black surround to the front window is not very well printed with distinctly wobbly lines on the one I have. This is a shame as all the other printing like wipers and air vents is very good.
Wheels and tyres are very good. and the front light inserts with the grilles to the side of the lights well realised. The panel lines showing how the van was welded together from multiple pressings are well engraved and the paint covers them well without obscuring any detail.
At the rear the Mercury script is neatly printed and the lights printed effectively.
1965 Ford Econoline Camper Van
This is available in two versions. One with the full elevated roof as shown here and the other with a raised panel which could be folded up with a canvas side when parked.
This model shows how different the US and UK were in the 1960s. On top of the cab is fitted an air conditioning unit something we would not see in the UK on smaller campers until much later.
The raised roof dominates the model. It is nicely modelled in plastic but the windows are printed on. In front of it sits the air-con unit which is another separate plastic item. Below it, the middle windows are moulded-in sloping as if they have been propped open from within. A table and some low side units are moulded in the interior as well as some thicker seating which will clearly become the bed when the van pulls up.
The two tone paint separation on the side is again neatly done as is the tiny Econoline script on the cab doors. Again the wheels and tyres are well modelled.
To the front the Ford Script is clearly printed and other features are like the Mercury above, except for the bumpers which are made to resemble white painted metal ones. Again the black printed screen surround is poorly done one an otherwise well printed model.
Underneath both models, M2 have moulded in some chassis features.
We welcome your comments and questions. Please go to our Model Auto Review Facebook page or email the Editors at maronlineeditor at gmail.com.