Home » An Old Van And Two Taillight Thoughts: Cold Start

An Old Van And Two Taillight Thoughts: Cold Start

Cd Old Econoline1
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Cold Start is a bit late this morning because I fell asleep last night with every intention of pre-writing my Cold Start, but soon found that I’m much less capable a writer when aslumber. Then I had to do my cardio rehab this morning, which is just exercising with a bunch of sensors stuck to me, all of which were either slipping off my sweat-slick, dolphin-like flanks or yanking clumps of hair from my chest. But, still, why should you suffer? It’s hardly fair. So, please accept my apologies for the delay in the form of this wonderful old Econoline I saw yesterday, as well as a pair of taillight photos, each one of which triggered a larger taillight thought.

First, look at that Econoline! It’s fantastic! It’s one of the first-generation ones, from 1961 to 1967, and this one is actually the Super Van variant, which you can tell from the extra length grafted on the rear, its seam proudly and unashamedly visible just aft of the rear wheelarch.

Vidframe Min Top
Vidframe Min Bottom

These vans with the extended rears, with their obvious seams, is something I’ve written about before at The Old Site. I always really liked how old extended Econolines had funny little plugs for their rear side marker lamps:

These conversions always seemed just a little half-ass, which endeared them to me, because I’m an idiot.

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Okay, I promised two taillight things, too so here we go. The first one was something I saw that reminded me of unfinished business:

Cs Lexusfade

You know how those Lexus GS300 inner taillights, the ones on the trunk lid shaped like river stones, always fade to an odd salmon-pink? Years ago I was reaching out to Toyota and their part suppliers to figure out why, why did this happen to just those lights and not any number of other taillights? Something is clearly different with the plastics or dyes but no one would give me an answer. I need to restart this investigation.

Here’s the other taillight thing:

Cs Trucktails

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I think the new default box truck taillight is no longer the traditional box taillight. Remember the box taillight? Sure you do?

Anyway, these seem to be slowly being replaced by those narrow oblong, hot dog-shaped LED lights.

Cs Trucklightoblong

These are sold by innumerable manufacturers and sometimes come in housings like the ones above, or just on their own. They come in red, amber, and clear, but in America I mostly just see the red and clear teamed up, with the rear indicator handled by the red lamp.

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I don’t find these as elegant as the box taillight, but I can see how their simplicity and modularity and small size make them appealing. They’re just a bit charmless, that’s all, and, yes, I demand charming taillights on my garbage trucks, because life is a rich and complex tapestry, dammit.

 

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Rod Millington
Rod Millington
22 days ago

The narrow, hot dog lights also allow them to be put in locations that the box lights wouldn’t fit, so you can simplify your lighting arrangement whilst maximising the utility of the box.

Jim Stock
Jim Stock
22 days ago

Was the Jeep Wrangler or CJ-7 the last personal vehicle sold with box tail lights?

TriangleRAD
TriangleRAD
22 days ago
Reply to  Jim Stock

I believe it would be the Wrangler TJ that was the very last, offered up through MY 2006.

Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
22 days ago

Between the salmonizing tail light mystery and the hypertrophied sunglass cubby prevarication, I am finding Toyota’s convenient lack of transparency disturbing.

Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
22 days ago

> my sweat-slick, dolphin-like flanks

I loled so hard at that my cat got up and left.

Beached Wail
Beached Wail
23 days ago

My mom’s daily driver from 1964 to 1973 was a ’64 Falcon Deluxe Club Wagon (AKA windowed passenger version of the Econoline in the lead photo, minus the “Super” extension). It had two round red combination taillights, no backup lights, and – since it was deluxe and not for peonstwo additional round rear reflectors below the taillights.

It could carry a lot of stuff, and the parents did a mild car camping conversion – bed seats, tables, power inverter. It was fine for that as long as it wasn’t raining (the doors leaked) and you avoided low traction areas (skinny 13″ wheels) and hills (101 alleged HP). The interior engine compartment was loud, hot, and a steady source of fresh carbon monoxide. Also, the metallic Viking blue color was nice – a good thing since this model was offered in a total of one color, take it or leave it.

Mr Sarcastic
Mr Sarcastic
23 days ago

Hey JT Don’t feel bad I seem to have lost Sunday. Whether much needed sleep or much too much Vodka I thought today was Sunday. Love the Econoline van which I submit has sold far more vans than the European transit that claimed best sales. Also I don’t hate the Tylenol Taillights, feel free to use that term, but replacement of the rubber gasket is simply impossible.

Jared Leahy
Jared Leahy
23 days ago

Speaking of taillight oddities, since acquiring my GR86 I have been curious about these little lumps it has on the side of the taillight housing. It can be seen on several other toyotas including the rav4, Corolla, and Camry. I have 2 theories; it is perhaps a vortex generator? Doesn’t seem like it would do much in that regard but I am not an aerodynamicist. The other explanation I can think of is that it serves as some sort of assembly aid, but that doesn’t make much sense either. As a fellow lover of tiny and mildly interesting automotive details, I implore you Jason, please solve this mystery!

Ben
Ben
23 days ago

I’ve said this before, but I will reiterate that you never need to apologize for taking care of your health. As cool as this site is it’s not worth dying over. 🙂

Mr Sarcastic
Mr Sarcastic
23 days ago
Reply to  Ben

But is it worth killing over? Just thinking outside the box.

Ben
Ben
22 days ago
Reply to  Mr Sarcastic

I plead the fifth… 😉

Autonerdery
Autonerdery
23 days ago

In any discussion of Econolines, I feel obligated to remind/let everyone know about Nanci Griffith’s country classic “Ford Econoline.” Enjoy!

Torque
Torque
23 days ago
Reply to  Autonerdery

“A voice like wine” indeed!

MAX FRESH OFF
MAX FRESH OFF
23 days ago
Reply to  Autonerdery

Likewise I feel obligated to mention Neil Young’s Tonight’s the Night and the lyric

Bruce Berry was a working man
He used to load that Econoline van

DONALD FOLEY
DONALD FOLEY
23 days ago

The green Econoline’s name is Winnie.

Canopysaurus
Canopysaurus
23 days ago

Hey, it’s Kim Kardashiavan.

Diana Slyter
Diana Slyter
23 days ago

And as the former owner of a 1st gen Econoline, you really don’t want one of those ill handling things… 2nd gen was a huge improvement and set the standard for vans.

Alan Christensen
Alan Christensen
23 days ago
Reply to  Diana Slyter

Although the 1st gen Econoline was based on the Falcon, the coil spring perches for the Falcon’s double wishbone suspension would’ve severely intruded into the cab, so they went with leaf springs and a solid beam front axle. There were farm implements that handled better and rode smoother.

Last edited 23 days ago by Alan Christensen
Alec Weinstein
Alec Weinstein
20 days ago

Has anyone put them back? I’m sure there’s Mustang II swaps but I’d love to see one done as factory as possible

Alan Christensen
Alan Christensen
20 days ago
Reply to  Alec Weinstein

A while back there was an article about the oddity of the Gen 1 Mustang front suspension, which was brought over from the Falcon. The coil springs were mounted to the top wishbone rather than the bottom one, which put the tops of the springs very high. Because of the cab-forward layout the driver and passenger sit right above the suspension in the Econoline. The spring towers would’ve cause problems. On the positive side, the leaf spring front suspension makes it easier to convert to 4WD.

Diana Slyter
Diana Slyter
23 days ago

Those box tail lights are littering the landscape because they’re useless as their bulbs are shaken to death by vibration as they hang too far from the apex of their mounting points. The round and oval LED lights are taking over because they last forever and replacement consists of popping the old one out, unplugging, plugging in the new one, and popping it in. Pretty much standardized on on trailers and truck bodies, unfortunately the lights on the cab are becoming more proprietary and overpriced.

Lizardman in a human suit
Lizardman in a human suit
23 days ago
Reply to  Diana Slyter

That switch to ovals and 4 inch rounds and penny lights has been a godsend and a curse for truckers. Cheap and easy to replace also means easy to steal. We are switching to riveted versions of rounds and ovals and gluing in the penny lights at this point.

Diana Slyter
Diana Slyter
23 days ago

I was working for the Postal Service back in ’98 when we had hundreds of new trailers with LED lights delivered by rail… and a lot of the lights that could be easily reached were missing. After that they got riveted in!

Mark Tucker
Mark Tucker
23 days ago

The old Toyota pickups suffered from Pink Taillight Syndrome as well. I had to replace a broken one on my old truck, and it looked so stupid with one red brake light and one pink that I ended up replacing both.

Michael Beranek
Michael Beranek
23 days ago

As someone who long struggled with “waterproof” housings on boat trailer tail lights, I applaud the advent of LED replacements and I don’t miss the old ones.

Greg
Greg
23 days ago

Those second lights are actually utility trailer lights, that they put on trucks. I am guessing they are cheaper and brighter than the alternative, and now are being used in production vehicles. I’ve had to replace a few in trailers and they are easy peasy and work great at minimal cost.

Ecolines are badass. I would love one, but had a semi-rough experience on the one older car I ever bought (never ending issues with no end in sight) and I am scared (cowardice) to do it again.

Collegiate Autodidact
Collegiate Autodidact
23 days ago

Ah, yeah, those extended vans were popular around here in East Tennessee on account of churches using them as church buses (one county in East Tennessee was notable at one time, in the 1970s-80s, for having the highest per capita rate of churches…and the highest per capita rate of bars.) It always seemed like the Ford vans were more problematic than other manufacturers’ vans on account of having poorly engineered road-handling characteristics further compounded by such massive rear overhangs so those church buses would crash more frequently than others (which puts “Jesus, take the wheel” in an entirely different light.)
And extended vans were also popular around here with carpet installers for obvious reasons, that is, for transporting long rolls of carpeting, and people would refer to such vans as ‘carpet vans’ rather than ‘extended vans’ regardless of their actual use. The ubiquity of carpet vans around here was in part due to the close proximity to Dalton, Georgia, which proudly proclaims itself to be “the Carpet Capital of the World.” Such a proclamation is indeed borne out, as per Wikipedia: “More than 90% of the functional carpet produced in the world today is made within a 65-mile (105 km) radius of the city.”

Nlpnt
Nlpnt
23 days ago

Ford’s much-advertised Twin-I-Beam front suspension was in fact swing axles. So along with massive pendulum-like rear overhang and a center of gravity that got higher as more people got in (sitting with the bulk of their weight 1-3′ above the load floor) you had constant camber changes in front. When GM finally brought out an extended van at the end of the ’80s churches and the like made a mass changeover to them (no pun intended) because they extended the wheelbase and not just the rear overhang.

In the ’80s all carpet stores had Dodges, because Dodge extended vans were just a bit longer between the backs of the front seats and the rear doors. It was something they advertised on, that you could close the doors on a carpet roll in a Dodge but it would have to stick out the back of the Ford.

CUlater
CUlater
22 days ago

Yeah, but what about all the non-functional carpet, where is that made?

Gubbin
Gubbin
23 days ago

What I love about Autopian is that you jam econo, totally and always.

Slower Louder
Slower Louder
23 days ago
Reply to  Gubbin

That’s One Reporter’s Opinion.

Amberturnsignalsarebetter
Amberturnsignalsarebetter
23 days ago

“These conversions always seemed just a little half-ass”
On the contrary Jason, surely these conversions are a little extra-ass?

MATTinMKE
MATTinMKE
23 days ago

Ass and a halfed?

Andy Individual
Andy Individual
23 days ago

Understatement.

StillNotATony
StillNotATony
23 days ago

You can’t talk about extended vans and not include the king of long butts, the Dodge extended van!

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dodge_Ram_Van#/media/File:1990_Dodge_Ram_350_Maxi,_front_right.jpg

VanGuy
VanGuy
23 days ago
Reply to  StillNotATony

We don’t talk about them because even the ones in California have somehow rusted to hell and back.

10001010
10001010
23 days ago

The box trucks have ditched the box taillight for these multi-LED jobs that inevitably have at least 30% of their LEDs burned out making neat patterns. From a distance they usually look like low-res characters from the old Space Invaders game.

VanGuy
VanGuy
23 days ago

Bringing the hard-hitting full-size van content I’m here for.

OverlandingSprinter
OverlandingSprinter
23 days ago
Reply to  VanGuy

Amen, brother.

Ben Lamb
Ben Lamb
23 days ago

“because life is a rich and complex tapestry, dammit.”
Agree 100%

Andy Individual
Andy Individual
23 days ago
Reply to  Ben Lamb

Tapestry is just a web of fancy knots after all.

Last edited 23 days ago by Andy Individual
AJ
AJ
22 days ago
Reply to  Ben Lamb
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