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Tuesday, May 24, 2011


One of the things I love about the Internet is how much you can find just digging around. Now as many of you are no doubt starting to catch onto, I've got a first-gen van Jones. But I never did care for the long wheelbase earlies, especially the Econolines. Then along comes someone with a lot of imagination and serious fabrication chops to slap my perception silly.
Case in point: The "LWBECO" seen up above. What the folks at Needful Thingz have done is quite brilliant, in my humble opinion. By relocating the rear wheelwheel of a LWB Econoline about 18" back, they've singlehandedly solved the ungainly proportion problems that made the it look like it had been beaten with an ugly stick. Now this type of fabrication is not for the faint of heart. Do not try this at home. But man have they changed my impression of the long wheelbase Econolines.  Damn fine work, gents. I'm truly impressed. For those wanting to learn more, go to NTKUSTOMS myspace page .
Hope to be bringing you more on this vehicle down the road.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

OUR 1961, ORIGINAL-OWNER ECONOLINE (not counting us.)

It's a long story but I'll keep it short. A couple of years a go a young writer who worked for me asked if I might be interested in an Econoline, knowing I liked fixing up old junk. I told him I might be interested and casually inquired, "Do ya know what year it is?" His response went something like this. "I think it's a '64, it was my grandpa's work van and it's been in the garage of his lake house since he replaced it with a new van back in the eighties." Little did he know I had a past with first gens, having owned four different ones and barely surviving the much-maligned "Van Movement" of the seventies with my twenties intact. It didn't take me long to get up to Brownwood, Texas, with a trailer in tow to see what was in store for us. What we found was a bruised, but not beaten Seafoam green Econoline panel van with virtually no options. It didn't even come with a passenger seat or a glovebox door. And it was 100% bone stock as it sat. The mods we have planned? We have a Ford 302 on the stand for her out of a early seventies Bronco. We're looking for an 8", 8.8", or 9" rear for it, as well as a 3-speed automatic. We'll post up more as we add parts. Thanks for reading.

We had to drag the old girl from her cocoon of twenty years.
The original plan was to make it my son's first car, but that plan changed with the purchase of '67 Impala -- so the plan is now for the van to be fixed it up and used as the VinVanCo company van. A nice, period-70's van-movement hauler. I wanted to share a few shots of the van as we found it, and cleaned up as it sits in the garage awaiting an influx of capital to fund its restification.
Here's a quick progress report of where we're at.  
Incidently, the van is a 1961, and was last registered in 1988. 
We've named her "Poochie", in honor of Earl Clements, its first owner, 
who was known by that nickname to friends and family alike.
RIP Poochie, yer ol' girl is in good hands. 

First daylight in two decades. Check the faded Seafoam paint.  Yum.
Here she is back home after a good scrub.
Time for a little internal cleanse.
144 cubes sans doghouse.

The interior post-scrub.

Out with the old. 
Cigars. Candy. Tobacco. Drugs.  Now all we need is strippers.

Here she is having an out-of-suspension experience.

This is in mock-up. Wishful ride-height thinking at its finest. 

Everyone loves her original paint. We wouldn't dream of changing it.
We gingerly tapped out all of her little dimples and dents, then carefully pushed her nose back
into shape. We'll be leaving the paint and body as-is.
Come to think of it, maybe we'll treat her to a nice coat of clear before we start driving her.

Introducing "Custom Vanner"

Issue #1 is sold out, but more are coming. 
David "Matchstick" Brooks is not your typical van lover. I say that 'cuz while many of us love vintage vans, few are willing to take the time and the trouble to create a magazine that pays homage to 'em. David has done just that, starting Custom Vanner not long ago. I recently sat down with issue Numero Uno. I'm pleased to report that while few advertisers have stepped up to buy pages yet, David is off to an impressive start and certainly has our admiration and support. 32 pages packed with color containing finished vans, projects in progress, an interview with Adam Cruz -- co-founder of  The Vandoleros Van Club, hot rod artist, and co-conspirator at the world-renowned House Industries -- as well as an article on the proper way to choose a piece of welding equipment. The result is an engrossing new "little book" no vintage van lover should be without. If you'd like to receive future issues of Custom Vanner, call David at 502 240-9326 and tell him you heard about him from Cameron @ VinVanCo. Or, track him down by name on Facebook. I'll have more to share with you about David and his other products soon, but for now I suggest you get your mitts on the next issue of Custom Vanner. Help support the cause and fuel your passion for "earlies" simultaneously. More to come.