TWELVE QUESTIONS WITH STUART COFER & ERICK ANDERSON --
TWO OWNERS, ONE PUP .
INTRO: Stuart Cofer is a blessed man in my books. Because Stuart owns the coolest Econoline Pup in the world. Okay, maybe that’s just dude's opinion but I ‘ve got a feeling it’s an opinion a lot of the vanners on my FB page share. Stuart’s Pup just flat has it. Yeah, "it". That elusive thing that makes you keep coming back to admire a vehicle again and again. The wheels. The tires. The stance. The paint. To me, it’s one of those vehicles that is damn near perfect just how it sits. It might not be Pebble Beach perfect, but it’s perfect in a much subtler way, if that make sense. I recently asked Stuart if he’d be willing to have his Pup featured on the Vinvanco blog with a “Twelve Questions” post. He agreed. This time around, we’re going to try something a bit different. We’re going to include its prior owner, Erick Anderson, in hopes of capturing a larger story than one man’s Pup. Here goes.
Q#1: Hi Stuart, as you know, I really dig your Pup. Can you tell me how you became its current owner? Were you looking for a Pup, or did it find you?
A: In the back of my mind, I always wanted an Econoline pickup and as with all my cars I started trolling ebay and Craigslist and this Pup popped up. I had to have it! It was for sale on ebay in Arizona and hadn't met its reserve, so I contacted its owner and we worked out a deal. After the sale, Eric sent me pics of it leaving Arizona, but I didn’t see it for 30 days. Turns out the shipper I hired subbed the job out to a smaller company. On the way to Georgia, that smaller hauler broke down in west Texas and tried to hold my Econoline ransom. What an ordeal! I had to call the Sheriff in Van Horn, Texas, to get it released to another hauler. It took about a month to get it here. I thought I was never going to see it.
Q#2: In many cases, these old Econolines are a constant work in progress. What have you done to your Pup since taking ownership?
A: Just little things like detailing the engine bay, putting new brakes on it and all-around general maintenance. This thing was way cool just how I bought it.
Q#3: Your Pup is lowered but doesn’t have raised front wheel wells like so many other heavily slammed first-generation vans. I’m going to assume that you have as much tire as you can get away with front and back. What size are those wheels and tires and how does it handle?
A: The front tires are Firestone 155R15 F560s. I know because I just tried to replace the front tires recently and found out the P155/80 R15s are no longer made. The rear tires are P235/60 R15s. As far as the wheels and the backspacing, you’d have to ask Erick. They’re 15” rims, but I couldn’t tell you the exact size and backspacing. Erick might be able to fill you in on that part.
Q#4: Do you have any plans for modifying your Pup? How often do you drive it and what do you use it for?
A: No plans to do anything major, really. The only thing on the horizon is maybe a false bed floor to cover up cut out area where the rear suspension comes up through the bed when it’s aired down. The air ride’s compressor system is hidden in a toolbox that rides in the Pup’s bed.
I should drive it more than I do. I have taken it to the F-100 Supernationals show in Pigeon Forge, TN. And that meant I got to drive it through the Smoky Mountains. It ran like a champ on Highway 441 with no cooling issues in spite of the steep grades. When I got there, I was the only Econoline Pup at the entire show. It was really cool. People really dug my little Pup. Going through the tunnel at the beginning and end of the show was a great opportunity to blast the train horn it’s equipped with. I’m pretty sure I was the only guy with one of them, too.
Q#5: Any funny stories that you have from owning it?
A: Not really, other than telling people to look under the front bumper and then blasting the train horn. [EDITOR: Ouch!]
Q#6: What is your drivetrain and how does it run? What are the pros and cons of the bagged suspension?
A: The engine is a later 170 6-cylinder. It’s stock and backed by original 4.11 gears. It runs great. The air ride system makes it look cool but it’s a bumpy ride with just me in it. It actually rides much better with a passenger, adding a little balance to the ride.
|Custom ducting runs directly to the front grill and forces air to the stock 1 barrel carb.|
|The rear frame rails are C-notched and a custom cross member kicks up over the rear axle and mounts air bags.|
[ED: AT THIS POINT, WE’RE GOING TO SWITC H THINGS UP AND DIRECT QUESTIONS TO PRIOR OWNER, ERICK ANDERSON, WHO ALONG WITH TODD BURTON OF MESA, ARIZONA'S LOWBOY MOTORSPORTS FULLY BAGGED STUART’S PUP.]
Erick Q#7: Hi Erick. I’ve always envied you Arizona guys because you have a natural advantage when it comes to finding dry, rust-free bodies. Where did you find your Pup and what was its condition when you found it?
A: I found it by accident, actually. I really wanted a van at the time so I responded to an ad for Mercury van. I was intrigued, as they are pretty rare down here. This was before Craigslist had pictures. The Mercury ended up having a lot of rust issues but its owner mentioned he also had an Econoline Pickup he’d just painted. My wife and I both dug the Pup. We overpaid a bit and gave him full asking price. It was all stock at that point, barely running and not quite fully wired. It came with a tow bar so it seemed like it was
Erick Q#8: You lowered your Econoline long before Coby Gewertz, Steve Morris, or Steve Luckett -- the new breed of guys with fully slammed Econolines -- did theirs. How did you figure out the suspension?
A: My only contribution to the suspension was the desire to lower it and the narrowed and dropped axle I had custom made for it. It was 2-3” shorter on each side and had a 5” drop. I took the axle to Todd @ Lowboy Motorsports for a static drop. Todd’s the one who made everything happen. When we realized how good it looked lowered, we just had to take it farther. Todd scratch built the whole air suspension system, fabricating as he went. There were no off-the-shelf kits at that time. None of that existed back then. In the pictures of it lowered, the front tires are almost touching the front wheel wheels. You could drive it aired down, but I personally wouldn’t recommend it. Up front, Todd fabricated a 6-link front suspension using the dropped and shortened axle. The narrowing allowed the front wheels to articulate without rubbing. Todd is pictured below making the magic happen. Notice how Todd made the kicked up rear crossmember with the air bag mounts. He's one talented fabricator.
|A series of fabricated tabs off the front axle mount the suspension components.|
|More of Todd's handiwork. Each piece was made form scratch.|
|Tucked up there above all the fabricated components is is a big electric fan to help keep things cool.|
Q#9: Can you tell us about the body work? From the pictures you sent, it looks like it had some very tasty work done on the rear roll pan and the rear corners. The tailgate looks pretty trick, too. Tell us who did the work, and about that
trick tail gate.
A: Unfortunately, I got hit in back when I owned it and it damaged the tail gate beyond repair. So I cut the ends off of it, and managed to save the middle part. I fabricated a new tailgate around it on my long bench, using a lot of C-clamps and a big pipe. I also grafted in a panel of louvers onto the outside of the gate. The louvers were punched by my friend Chip. We kept the FORD embossed type on the inside of the tailgate . [EDITOR: Man is that a cool touch. Well done, Erick.] The rear pan was also crumpled in the accident so I replaced that along with one of the corners. The final body and paint work on the repair was done by Joel Nelson, another talented friend of mine. He did the dashboard’s paint and also did the illustration of my Pup that I shared with you.
That boy’s got skills.
That boy’s got skills.
|The embossed type from the outside of the stock tailgate was used on the inside. Nice.|
|Note the tasty louvers. It's those little touches that make this Pup so boss.|
|I think this is perfection. The coolest Pup on the planet. There, I said it. Again.|
Q#10: What’s you favorite memory from when you owned the Pup?
A: My favorite moment was when we rolled it out of the shop after the static drop. We both knew it the moment we saw it. Fully lowered was what that Pup wanted to be.
Q#11: Who drew the awesome illustration of your Econoline, Erick?
A: The illustration was done by my friend, Joel Nelson, who also did the final bodywork and paint on the rear of the Pup. Joel is an amazing artist.
Erick Q #12: Any regrets about selling it when you did?
A: Stuart found my Pup listed on ebay. The transaction went smoothly, but I recall he had some shipping issues. I miss my Pup every day. I built that truck for me and had my best friends work on it. But you know what they say.
We can’t keep ‘em all.
We can’t keep ‘em all.
Conclusion: So there you have it. A big Vinvanco thanks goes out to both these gentlemen for agreeing to let me pester ‘em with questions. And a special thanks to Erick Anderson for filling us in on some of the build details and providing build shots of Stuart’s Pup. If you’d like to support Vinvanco’s efforts to put vintage vans back in the world's crosshairs, subscribe to this thread and share it with friends. And if you really feel like making our day, go to our store and buy something. Not that you have to or anything. Until next time, keep the boxy side up.