First published in 2011-04-19
Australia’s van market has always suffered from a lack of big, Yank-style, bonneted vans, which makes this item Gleaned from Gumtree a real pearler.
The Aussie van scene has always forged its own path; for both tradies and surfies from the 1950’s right through to the 1980’s, the only real choice (aside from the ubiquitous VW Kombi) was a ‘sedan delivery’-style panelvan. Based off the popular Holden or Ford sedans (or more correctly, their commercial coupe utility counterparts), they offered a level of comfort and power the Kombi couldn’t match, even if the rear area and access was lacking in comparison. Chrysler Australia even flung their own van into the mix based off the Valiant in the late 1970s, but it was too little, too late.
Ford and General Motors’ Holden also offered versions of their British products, the Ford Transit and the Bedford CF-series. Both were assembled locally and with the option of their weezy fours replaced by lazy Ford or Holden Sixes, the Bedford van even having a ‘Powered By Holden’ badge mounted proudly on the front fender. These vans were the closest Australia got to proper, full-sized US vans, but on the whole people just dug the panel vans. They were local. The Brit vans, despite their local assembly and power plants, were not.
Fast-forward 30 years and the Holden panel van is long dead (1984), while the Ford Falcon van was mercifully killed off in 1998 after living on borrowed time for more than a decade and still sporting 1979 doors for good measure.
So it is with this knowledge that we see this little (uh, big) glimmer of awesome. The Ford Econoline was and still is the staple for any self-respecting American tradesman, and like the panel vans of Australia with their Sandman (Holden) and Sundowner (Ford) sports versions, this particular Econoline has a pimping decal job, most likely in conjunction with the Super Van option.
Plus, unlike ANY of Australia’s big vans (Kombi, Transit, Bedford et al), this one is sporting some factory V8 power.
Not sure about the advertiser’s claim that it is a ‘boogie van’ which is just a shade too close to the brick-inducing ‘boogie man’ for comfort, but it’s certainly not a long throw from Shaggy’s Mystery Machine, especially if you squint.
If you want to transport a horde of kids around, it’s probably not the right car (unless said kids were solving mysteries and meddling); it would have the chassis dynamics of a fridge on a skateboard, but is probably OK for the odd cruise with 12 of your closest mates. It’s got rego so the rust can’ t be too bad, but best of all it’s got presence to burn.
We just don’t want to be the one checking the blind spot from the wrong side of the car. It’s easy enough in a fully-windowed Cadillac Coupe deVille, but you could fit Australia’s entire allocation of Suzuki Mighty Boys in the blind spot of this thing.
Find it on Gumtree for the bargain entry price (for a Yank classic) of $10,000.