If you grew up in a big family in the 1960’s, 1970’s, or 1980’s, or had a friend in a big family, chances are you spent a lot of time in a Ford E-Series van – also called the Ford Econoline, Ford Club Wagon, Ford Falcon Club Wagon, and the Mercury Econoline in Canada. Hailing from Ohio, USA and Ontario, Canada, the Econoline has been in production for almost sixty years, though in the last few it has been trimmed down to a limited run. Ford used it to replace the F-Series panel van (it is second only to the F-Series as the longest-produced vehicle by Ford) as a cargo and passenger van, used often in rental fleets.
Before 2015, It was the best selling full-size van in the US since the 1980’s. The most recent iteration of the Econoline boasts three or four doors and an FR layout. It has an automatic transmission, V8 engine (6.2L Boss V8), and a rear-view backup camera, which is a first for the full-size van.
The first Econoline model was smaller than the ones we are used to seeing today, having been based on smaller vehicles such as the Ford Falcon (which also has the distinction of serving as the basis for a popular sports car – the Mustang). It only measured 173 inches. The second model had more in common with the Ford trucks than anything else, and introduced the V8 engine to the vehicle. Most of us, however, are probably more familiar with the third model, which was produced between 1975 and 1991. The third generation had even more commonalities with Ford’s truck divison, particularly the F-series truck, which upped its selling points and made it useful for families, fleets, and hospitals.
The fourth generation of the Econoline was named the 1992 Truck of the Year by Motor Trend because of its reinvention – with the inclusion of sheetmetal, a 138-inch wheelbase, and extended length options that allowed up to fifteen people inside. There was also a 50th anniversary edition available for sale in 2011.
While it may not be a glamorous sports car or a heavy-duty workhorse, the Econoline filled its place between the two with a steady, reliable drive that created a powerful loyalty in its customers. Though it will gradually be replaced by the Ford Transit, the Econoline is still in production and so far, there’s no end in sight.