Home » A Used Car Dealership In Chicago Is Selling An Actual Government Surveillance Van For $26,795

A Used Car Dealership In Chicago Is Selling An Actual Government Surveillance Van For $26,795

Ford E-250 Nasa Surveillance Van Topshot
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Decommissioned government vehicles, you might picture cop cars you’d never want under a black light, aged-out nondescript sedans driven by managers from meeting to meeting, and maybe the occasional Humvee. However, every so often, you stumble upon gold. A former federal surveillance van is up for sale in Chicago, it may have been used by NASA, and you can actually buy it. Just don’t do anything illegal with it.

Ford E-250 Nasa Surveillance Van 1

Vidframe Min Top
Vidframe Min Bottom

From the outside, this 2006 Ford E-250 looks like your typical mid-aughts conversion van, minus gaudy graphics. Sure, you do get a champagne pinstripe as a flourish of style over this van’s silver-blue paint, but that’s about it. Perfect for blending in with residential neighborhoods at the time, although a bit of an outlier in urban and commercial environments. Maybe that’s part of the reason why this van’s only covered 1,863.3 miles since it was new in 2006, although idle hours could be a completely different story.

Ford E-250 Nasa Surveillance Van 2

Unsurprisingly, power comes from Ford’s 5.4-liter two-valve Modular V8, an excellent engine for largely just sitting around, given the challenges involved with spark plug replacement. Hitched to a four-speed automatic transmission, it’ll move a van from one location to another location, but not with much spirit or vigor. That’s okay, though. It just gives you more time to admire the questionable woodgrain dashboard face that’s oh so period-correct.

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Ford E-250 Nasa Surveillance Van Plaque

A plaque in the cabin claims this van was upfitted by Innovative Surveillance Technology out of Coral Springs, Fla. for NASA. Yes, the space guys. According to NASA’s website, its protective services “safeguard our facility, properties, personnel, visitors, and operations from harm,” so there’s a chance this van was used for either monitoring of NASA property or protection of NASA assets. That’s a little bit cooler than most mid-aughts paranoia-driven uses for surveillance.

Ford E 250 Nasa Surveillance Van 3

So how was this van turned into a mobile spying center? Well, let’s start with how it has more LCD monitors than a Counterstrike LAN party. They can be used to monitor any of six different video inputs including a videoscope camera. A videoscope and a borescope are very similar as they’re both cameras on the ends of optical fibers, so the same tech you’d use to inspect cylinder walls is also useful for surveillance. Kind of cool, right? Multiple Sony DVD-based video recorders store footage captured by cameras, audio recorders by high-end equipment brand Marantz capture sounds, and time and date generators sync gathered media up for accurate analysis. Circling back around to audio, this van features seven different audio inputs including a body wire channel.

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It’s easy to wonder how on earth a fully-equipped federal surveillance van makes it out of government hands, but this isn’t the only one ever sold on the internet. Mashable reported that back in 2017, a North Carolinian seller listed an actual FBI surveillance van for sale on eBay. The 1989 Dodge Ram Van 350 was reportedly purchased from a government auction, and even included a toilet because stakeouts are often long and boring.

Ford E-250 Nasa Surveillance Van 4

If you have $26,795 burning a hole in your pocket and want a genuine surveillance van, your options are probably slim. I doubt you could build one this nice for that sort of money, and finding another would be like hunting for hens’ teeth. Whenever 2000s car nostalgia kicks into a high enough gear for a series of shows, this van perfectly captures the zeitgeist of the decade of terror.

Hat-tip to Andrew!

(Photo credits: Chicago Motors)

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Clueless_jalop
Clueless_jalop
10 months ago

Am I the only one thinking of the “Unsuspecting Van”? It’s even the right time period.

Sivad Nayrb
Sivad Nayrb
10 months ago

…you misspelled ‘NSA’ monitoring.

Ian McClure
Ian McClure
10 months ago

Paging Charles Guan, your next van project is here.

Professor Chorls
Professor Chorls
10 months ago
Reply to  Ian McClure

No u

VanGuy
VanGuy
10 months ago

Exterior-wise, that’s the kind of conversion van I’ve been searching for for years now. Sadly, I’m not actually looking for a surveillance van…but very cool find.

The conversion van market still feels awful and I’d love to read an article detailing it.

This is my subjective observations, but I guess a lot of the conversion companies died out in the Great Recession, so there’s fewer (and pricier) vans available after that, and then COVID’s affect on the entire vehicle market was even worse with vans because of “vanlife” stuff…I’m still trying to find a good condition running one locally for under ~$5k, but there tend to be issues.

My old one was a ’97. I’m hoping to find something newer, and hopefully high-roof this time. (Incidentally, I hate the 2008 model year for the E-series, because it got a facelift but not the dashboard upgrade. But of course, it seems to be one of the more common years I run across.)

Taargus Taargus
Taargus Taargus
10 months ago

I know this is supposed to blend in, but I feel like this would stick out like such an incredible sore thumb, even ten years ago. A spotless conversion van? In the 2010s? Maybe it’s just me.

Hey FBI, I don’t recommend trying to surveil me with a van. I’m going to instinctively want to check it out and see what’s inside. And I’m going to ask your agents about 1,000 questions.

Rafael
Rafael
10 months ago

What does the FBI uses these days, surveillance CUVs?

Paint-Drinking Thundercock Harvey Park
Paint-Drinking Thundercock Harvey Park
10 months ago
Reply to  Rafael

Sprinters with “TOTALLY NOT A SURVEILLANCE VEHICLE” stenciled on the side, over the original owner’s coarse “FREE CANDY” in sharpie peeking through one hasty single coat of Kilz applied after it was civil forfeited and reconditioned for federal use.

Phantom Pedal Syndrome
Phantom Pedal Syndrome
10 months ago

Many of my local food trucks are suspect.

“Fresh Burritos Instantly”?
C’mon… I’m on to you.

Thomas Metcalf
Thomas Metcalf
10 months ago

Or the classic from the Simpsons, ‘Flowers By Irene’

Paul B
Paul B
10 months ago

A Sprinter that isn’t rusting away here in Montreal would attract a lot of attention.

Michael Beranek
Michael Beranek
10 months ago
Reply to  Rafael

No, they use the phone in your pocket and the watch on your wrist. And the Alexa/Google/Nest or whatever else you have in your house.

Rusty S Trusty
Rusty S Trusty
10 months ago

That’s why I don’t have any of that stuff. The drones, black helicopters, satellites and top secret spy planes with alien tech from area 51 are bad enough. They’ve followed me around since 1996 when I posted that rant in an aol chat room about how we’re all being hypnotized and controlled by undetectable microsecond flashing patterns in department store lighting.

Tacofan
Tacofan
10 months ago
Reply to  Rafael

Drones and cell phones just to name a few. I’m sure there are many others.

Scoutdude
Scoutdude
10 months ago

Several years ago I was out the county auction and there was a former county sheriff surveillance van. It was “marked” with magnetic signs on the front doors that said something like XX janitorial. The exterior was a bit rough, likely intentionally. It was a round light Econoline 1975-1979 so by that point it was starting to look a little old. It only had something like 50k miles on it. Whatever radio or recording equipment had been removed but the desk was still there. It had a battery box with room for 4 RV batteries. It also had a 12v silent HVAC and defogging system. It had a set of pvc pipes with small holes drilled in them that were positioned just above the rear and side door windows that of course were tinted. To keep them cool in the summer they had a forced air dry ice box. It did go for a premium due to the low mile more than anything else.

Scoutdude
Scoutdude
10 months ago
Reply to  Scoutdude

Oh and I forgot it also came with a “shitcase”, as Mercedes would say, in its own little storage compartment.

StillNotATony
StillNotATony
10 months ago

This – THIS – needs to be The Autopian mobile headquarters/ surveillance unit!

TOSSABL
TOSSABL
10 months ago
Reply to  StillNotATony

My first thought as well

Jim Zavist
Jim Zavist
10 months ago

GovDeals.com always has a few interesting vehicles to bid on.

Scoutdude
Scoutdude
10 months ago
Reply to  Jim Zavist

My favorites are the confiscated vehicles. Two stand out.

#1 was not in my area but came across it in the classic car section. It was a show quality “six-four” complete with hydraulics, Candy graphics, button tuck velour, and an upmteen speaker stereo system. It also had a secret compartment in the floor board just in front of the driver’s seat. Perfectly sized for a hand gun, drugs, or money. The selling agency had a condition of sale that the secret compartment be removed and verified by said agency within xx days of sale completion.

#2 was local and it was just a mid size SUV that also had a not so well hidden compartment that was being used for transporting meth. The thing that stood out was that the vehicle was as impounding including the clearly readable advertising for the owner’s business “Joe Schome Personal Trainer” and the phone number. That agency just warned that the vehicle was pretty messed up and the back seat wasn’t able to be properly secured due to the big chunk of floor pan that had been crudely hacked out which included some of the rear seat and seat belt mounts.

Stef Schrader
Stef Schrader
10 months ago

New best Lemons tow vehicle ever just dropped.

Tired: Wandering around the sweaty, muggy paddock on foot with a team radio
Wired: Hiding in your sweet, cool ex-NASA stakeout van as you spy on your race car breaking down where no one can see you give up and cry

MSB
MSB
10 months ago

My wifi network for years was “FBI Surveillance Van” because my across the street neighbor had a white Chevy Astro panel van perpetually parked in front of my house. Good times.

Mr Sarcastic
Mr Sarcastic
10 months ago

Perfect for smuggling illegal contraband. Two white guys in sunglasses and economy suits. Quiet but professional rolling through the border. You get stopped let them look inside and speculate ssk them about a suspicious car that was let through. Ask tersely if we can hurry up. Boom pot party.

Angular Banjoes
Angular Banjoes
10 months ago
Reply to  Mr Sarcastic

I like the cut of your jib my friend.

Mr Sarcastic
Mr Sarcastic
10 months ago

Nice and NASA, I tend to think of them as a nicer brand of cop and criminal. The guy with the FBI van had to be stoned that ad was so fuggin slow.

Jesus Chrysler drives a Dodge
Jesus Chrysler drives a Dodge
10 months ago

“The 1989 Dodge Ram Van 350 was reportedly purchased from a government auction, and even included a toilet because stakeouts are often long and boring.“

Long hours, a diet of Chipotle and Subway, and a confined space with a shitter. That’s a misery hat-trick.

Joe The Drummer
Joe The Drummer
10 months ago

I hope there was also a secondary ventilation system of some sort. Yikes.

Ranwhenparked
Ranwhenparked
10 months ago

Oh come on, we all know this was really used to spy on flat earthers, to keep them from getting too close to reaching NASA’s world-encircling fortified ice wall

Mr Sarcastic
Mr Sarcastic
10 months ago
Reply to  Ranwhenparked

Or aliens disguised as earthlings. Coneheads was a documentary disguised as a comedy.

Bizness Comma Nunya
Bizness Comma Nunya
10 months ago

Bonus points for:
it has more LCD monitors than a Counterstrike LAN party”

Balloondoggle
Balloondoggle
10 months ago

I had to wonder if LAN parties are still a thing. Token ring network anyone?

Bizness Comma Nunya
Bizness Comma Nunya
10 months ago
Reply to  Balloondoggle
EmotionalSupportBMW
EmotionalSupportBMW
10 months ago

Make your neighbor watch significant more invasive! Cover this in Ring cameras and rule Nextdoor. Hopefully they sell off some used FEMA death camps, then you can really have a Department of Homeland Security at Home.

Balloondoggle
Balloondoggle
10 months ago

The DHS HOA. Perfect for the nosey neighbors wanting to site you for that 5 minute window when your kids left the trash cans in plain view on garbage day.

Data
Data
10 months ago

Private eyes
They’re watching you
They see your every move

  • Hall & Oates
MaximillianMeen
MaximillianMeen
10 months ago
Reply to  Data

You think you’ve private lives
Think nothing of the kind
There is no true escape
I’m watching all the time

I’m made of metal
My circuits gleam
I am perpetual
I keep the country clean

I’m elected, electric spy
I’m protected, electric eye

Always in focus
You can’t feel my stare
I zoom into you
But you don’t know I’m there

I take a pride in probing
All your secret moves
My tearless retina
Takes pictures that can prove

I’m made of metal
My circuits gleam
I am perpetual
I keep the country clean

I’m elected, electric spy
I’m protected, electric eye

  • Judas Priest
Andy Individual
Andy Individual
10 months ago

Good timing. Flowers By Irene down the road from me just had to retire their delivery vehicle.

Ranwhenparked
Ranwhenparked
10 months ago

Does Two Guys from Quantico Pizza still have their old van?

Phantom Pedal Syndrome
Phantom Pedal Syndrome
10 months ago
Reply to  Ranwhenparked

I’m now suspicious of that “Falafels Baked Instantly” food truck with no customers parked up the street.

AKA Rukh
AKA Rukh
10 months ago

Definitely very cool.

Arrest-me Red
Arrest-me Red
10 months ago

Sure the idle hours are high but sell off the extra gear and turn it into a family cruiser.

Man With A Reliable Jeep
Man With A Reliable Jeep
10 months ago

Finally, something to go with my Wi-Fi network named “FBI Surveillance Van.”

Pupmeow
Pupmeow
10 months ago

Mine is “Totally Not A FBI Surveillance Van.”

Parsko
Parsko
10 months ago

“Totally an FBI surveillance van, NOT a creepy have some free candy van”

Dogisbadob
Dogisbadob
10 months ago

better than “INS Deportation Van” which I’ve seen for a network name…

AKA Rukh
AKA Rukh
10 months ago

I had that as my network name once upon a time, but changed it because of the Jared Cano school-bombing incident. A joke wasn’t worth the risk, so now I name my networks after stuff from The Princess Bride (The Fire Swamp, The Pit of Despair, and The Cliffs of Insanity are home, hotspot, and work).

Phantom Pedal Syndrome
Phantom Pedal Syndrome
10 months ago
Reply to  AKA Rukh

“I’m Not A Witch I’m Your Wifi”

Last edited 10 months ago by Phantom Pedal Syndrome
Ranwhenparked
Ranwhenparked
10 months ago
Reply to  AKA Rukh

Mine was Pfizer mRNA Test Subject, then a random jumble of letters and numbers for a while

Balloondoggle
Balloondoggle
10 months ago
Reply to  AKA Rukh

I used “Get your own” for a while. When the network connection notice popped up in Windows it would say

Get your own
internet access

Look, a Volvo!
Look, a Volvo!
10 months ago

Me and my Wi-Fi extender named Mazda of Le Flore and my phone name 2023 Mazda Miata

1913Jalopy
1913Jalopy
10 months ago

Ours used to be named “FBI Surveillance Van,” but we had to change it to “Chinese Spy Balloon”

Last edited 10 months ago by 1913Jalopy
Phantom Pedal Syndrome
Phantom Pedal Syndrome
10 months ago

“Get off my LAN”

TOSSABL
TOSSABL
10 months ago

Good one!

Phantom Pedal Syndrome
Phantom Pedal Syndrome
10 months ago

“Old man yells at The Cloud”

Spyrius Robot
Spyrius Robot
10 months ago

Somebody in my apartment building already uses that so I went with the much more sinister “Cyberdyne Systems”.

Jalop Gold
Jalop Gold
10 months ago
Reply to  Spyrius Robot

No more secrets

Sc00t3r
Sc00t3r
10 months ago
Reply to  Jalop Gold

This LTX-71 concealable mike is part of the same system that NASA used when they faked the Apollo Moon landings. They had the astronauts broadcast around the world from a sound stage at Norton Air Force Base in San Bernadino, California. So it worked for them, shouldn’t give us too many problems.

Mike G.
Mike G.
10 months ago
Reply to  Sc00t3r

I love the Sneakers reference, but that was “too many secrets” (aka: Setec Astronomy)

I think the next WiFi I setup will be Setec Astronomy. Thanks for the idea!

Cheap Bastard
Cheap Bastard
10 months ago

“Big Brother’s Ministry of Love”

UnseenCat
UnseenCat
10 months ago

I have devices of various ages, so I have to run multiband/multiprotocol WiFi. So it’s mnemonic — 2.4GHz “G” band gets “GCHQ” and 5GHz “N” band gets “NSA”

BubbaX
BubbaX
10 months ago

For a while, I just used “honeypot”. A van like that would probably be quite useful in Zaporizhzhia Oblast.

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