Home » Happy Labor Day With America’s Most Laborious Vehicle!: Cold Start

Happy Labor Day With America’s Most Laborious Vehicle!: Cold Start

Cs Econoline Top
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Happy Labor Day, everyone! Let’s celebrate the nobility of labor by avoiding it at all costs today, which is exactly what we intend to do here at the Autopian. It’s a day off. Feel free to take the opportunity to catch up on all the great stories you may have missed as you’ve been consumed by your own laboring. Also, I’d like to take a small moment to honor that true icon of American Labor, the engine through which commerce happened in America for so long, the Ford Econoline.

I know there have been plenty of other vans doing the hard work of moving crap around in America for decades, and the Econoline (later E-Series) hasn’t been around for a long while, but in my head, when I picture a workhorse van in a generic American city, with some logo on the side and a lot of small dents and scrapes, I almost always picture an Econoline.

Vidframe Min Top
Vidframe Min Bottom

Cs Falconvan

Those early ones (like the one up top) were pretty charming-looking, too. Did you know they were originally part of the Falcon line? They were! Which feels odd, but, you know, the world was a different place then. Look at the “Falcon” badge on the door of that one up there!

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This old Econoline commercial with Buster Keaton is interesting; Keaton died in 1966, so this had to be one of his last filmed performances, I’d think? It seems a short safety-comedy film called The Scribe was the last thing he shot before his death, but I suspect this commercial was pretty close.

Anyway, I hope you have a fantastic day off, and take a moment to appreciate the American labor movement, and prepare yourself mentally for the 20-hour workweek, which I’m sure is coming in just a few months.

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Freelivin2713
Freelivin2713
9 months ago

…when you’re eating government cheese, livin’ in a VAN down by the river!!! (& washing it)

Old Hippie
Old Hippie
9 months ago

My first rig of my own was a ’67 Ford Falcon Supervan!

I still have trouble convincing folks that such a thing ever existed. I just tell them to watch any ’70s TV show filmed in LA. That seems to be where all Falcon vans went to die.

When i got it, it was a family relic. My parents had used it to tow boats and trailers all over the NW US. Yep–that little 262 (?) six towed trailers! With a 3-speed auto! At actual highway speeds! Well, not uphill.

As a consequence of launching boats into saltwater, it was pretty well rusted-out from the rear axle back (thanks, Dad). About three feet of that rig was behind the rear axle. Opening the rear swinging doors usually required two people, one to open them, the other to catch them and hold them up while trying to get them lined back up when closing them.

I beat the holey fuck out of it in Arizona in the late ’70s-early ’80s. That huge rear overhang soon got sorted, as I hit it so often crossing (usually) dry creek beds that it ended up with a pretty good departure angle. That really didn’t help the rear door problems.

I only had one other rig that got pulled over more often. It was a ’76 (palindrome to the Ford) Dodge Aspen station wagon that I bought as an under-grad in college. It came from Michigan and was mostly rust, but for $100 (it had a new battery) back then was a great deal. Did you know that you can make a structural compression member from bailing twine?

ES
ES
9 months ago
Reply to  Old Hippie

’79 aspen that a (still unrepentant) uncle took $500 (starving student) me for. Was Michigan winter driving on bald tires really a thing, or was i dumber than the average college sophmore? Only thing right about that car (8 years old) was the slant six. Gave my dad a lift somewhere when he came to visit: immediate detour to our old neighborhood mechanic, who condemned the car as soon as it was on the lift. Sonny was surprised the hoist hadn’t split it in two.

TOSSABL
TOSSABL
9 months ago

I once washed a Subaru in a river—a bit too deep in. An electric fuel pump neophyte, I didn’t think about the effect of submerging that pump for a couple hours while I soaked the foul combination of the PO’s Busch & cigarette ashes that seemed to have become part of the carpet. It quit on me in a sketchy neighborhood after midnight the following day.

Cheap Bastard
Cheap Bastard
9 months ago
Reply to  TOSSABL

I’d think that fuel pump was the least of your problems.

TOSSABL
TOSSABL
9 months ago
Reply to  Cheap Bastard

The distributor is actually fairly high up on the OHV EA81 engines: I never had problems in fording <2’ or so with those.

most people would have learned from that to stay out of water. I took the lesson to be that I should waterproof the crap outa my cars—and that I needed a parts car immediately.

Cheap Bastard
Cheap Bastard
9 months ago
Reply to  TOSSABL

I was thinking more about mold, maybe rust but now that you mention it electrical grounding issues too. Flooding a carpeted car with river water (unless done very carefully) seems like a dual ticket to moldsville and shorttown.

I humbly suggest next time try rinsing stinky carpet and upholstry with a solution of hot water, vinegar (or baking soda) and borax to remove stink from carpet, then vacuum it all up with a wet/dry shop vacuum and let dry. Borax is also effective against mold (and insects) so you can sprinkle some into the carpet to prevent any from cropping up later. If the moldy smell is in the HVAC try removing the filter and wafting in a bit of baking soda and borax dust into the system, not too much though, then put in a new carbon based filter.

I do not recommend bleach except as a very, very last ditch effort as it is highly corrosive and I think is too likely to damage the materials. An ion generator might work too but use that with caution too.

If the stink is biological spraying the carpet with a good bacteria based enzyme cleaner should be even more effective. Nice thing about bacteria is they might take up residence in the carpet and bloom as needed to remove future stinks for a long time.

TOSSABL
TOSSABL
9 months ago
Reply to  Cheap Bastard

From my time working with pianos, I would never recommend using an ion generator in a car. We found they can seriously degrade certain rubbers from even just an overnight exposure.

Yeah, it was a stupid move out of desperation. Car was $200 and had moon-mileage. Was nasty, but tolerable until summer humidity hit, and my freshly sober self was assaulted by the smell of beer every day. Had already hit it with high-pressure soap at a car wash, so I figured a couple hours soaking after spritzing Purple Power was worth a try. It actually worked as far as smell goes: spent a hour vacuuming the river water out of it on the way home, followed by (too much)Febreeze-which is probably why I now can’t stand the stuff.

I’m with you on the enzyme stuff, but as a young, broke, single dad struggling to keep my head above water I did a fair few silly things then that make me smile & shake my head now

Cheap Bastard
Cheap Bastard
9 months ago
Reply to  TOSSABL

If you’re struggling to keep your head above water maybe washing your car in a river isn’t the best thing to do ☺.

Sorry, couldn’t resist.

TOSSABL
TOSSABL
9 months ago
Reply to  Cheap Bastard

Fair enough!

Nycbjr
Nycbjr
9 months ago

Video no worky!

Andy Individual
Andy Individual
9 months ago

Nothing like rinsing your greasy truck off in a river. I hope someone is swimming or fishing downstream.

Otter
Otter
9 months ago

The white Econoline is the official transport of indie rock touring, as the indisputably blue-collar Mike Watt explains: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UBTC1VL4xuE

Dead Elvis, Inc.
Dead Elvis, Inc.
9 months ago
Reply to  Otter

Came here to post the same thing, glad to see I was beaten to the punch!

Col Lingus
Col Lingus
9 months ago

I loved these back in the day. Drove one as a shop van for a summer in LA, building custom vans. Damn thing was a retired Telephone Co. van, and totally bullet proof. My boss saw me doing doing bleach burn outs in it. My punishment was being forced to do the entire customization (less paint) on that thing. (These were the original California Surfer Vans, cheap and economical.) It took about 2 months of full time work, but ended up featured in TRUCKIN’ magazine and Hot Rod as well.

BTW, looking for one that’s restorable and not 10K for sale.
Happy Labor Day friends! Thanks for the effort to all the Auto Peeing family, and Chainsaw Boy for making a half assed effort today.
Throw one down or burn one today in memory of Jimmy Buffett. He spent the night at my place when I was 20. I live in the town he grew up in. Favorite song?
A Pirate looks at Forty. RIP Jimmy.

Last edited 9 months ago by Col Lingus
TOSSABL
TOSSABL
9 months ago
Reply to  Col Lingus

I don’t keep libations around the house-but I did burn an offering to send him on his way.
I can’t choose between Peanut Butter Conspiracy and The Great Filling Station Holdup

-wonder if he ever did pay the Mini Mart back?
eta: sure enough, he said he taped an envelope with several hundred dollars to the door some years later. Class act, that, man 🙂

Last edited 9 months ago by TOSSABL
pliney the welder
pliney the welder
9 months ago
Reply to  Col Lingus

Mine is Margaritaville. That song was on AM the whole time teenage me and my Dad and Mom and my sibs were building our house. It was the only Jimmy song i knew other than ‘ Cheesburger” until a friend turned me onto ” Pirate ” at a surprise 40th birthday my GF ( now Mrs. The Welder ) set up for me . Also my dad had a red ’64 with a 240 and 3 on the tree .

Col Lingus
Col Lingus
9 months ago

Those vans were just the best.
I was not a big fan of Jimmy’s later stuff, but I think it’s because they played a lot of it to death on local radio. He sure knew how to market his music and name though.
Although I did not know him well, always considered him a friend and a really decent guy.
The night he came over to my apt. and partied with us is one of my favorite memories. I was 19 and didn’t know what he looked like, so I made him show me his ID before I believed it was really him. (what a dork!) Then he said “show me your ID so I know it’s really you.” Too funny.
We all stayed up all night just getting wasted. It’s a wonder any of us survived that night, let alone another 46 years! Thanks JB…

Last edited 9 months ago by Col Lingus
Lew Schiller
Lew Schiller
9 months ago

I’m going to be working today because Hardware Never Sleeps. Also…it’s Labor Day. A day on which, you’d think, everybody would be pitching in and…laboring.

JumboG
JumboG
9 months ago
Reply to  Lew Schiller

Labor Day. A day where white collar and governmental workers take a day off to celebrate blue collar workers who are still at work working at their work job.

Studdley
Studdley
9 months ago
Reply to  JumboG

And a day for the union guys to make double time.

The Dude
The Dude
9 months ago
Reply to  JumboG

As a white collar worker, I was always awestruck whenever my Romanian team would have a holiday and had to clock out right on time since it was illegal for workers (except for these considered essential like police) to be working on a holiday.

It also was a reminder that even Romania has better worker laws than America.

Philip Dunlop
Philip Dunlop
9 months ago
Reply to  The Dude

“Even” Romania is part of the EU now, and I know the EU had a positive impact on labour laws since we in Ireland joined up.

Andy Individual
Andy Individual
9 months ago
Reply to  Lew Schiller

Wow, all these years I never got the reference. I thought it was a designated childbirth day.

Hugh Crawford
Hugh Crawford
9 months ago

Only for children conceived around Thanksgiving.

JunkerDave
JunkerDave
9 months ago
Reply to  Lew Schiller

Labor Day. The day they came up with so that American workers wouldn’t celebrate May Day, that commie holiday.

Scott
Scott
9 months ago

That. Is a good commercial. I especially like the part where the lion covers his eyes.

Amberturnsignalsarebetter
Amberturnsignalsarebetter
9 months ago

Coming from the old kingdom, the Econoline is America’s Transit, and that workhorse is both loved and hated across Great Britain for its ubiquity and association with (often rude, angry and impatient) tradesmen.

This got me thinking about how the world would look if Ford had built an Econoline ‘Supervan’ back in the early 70s. In that parallel universe, high-performance panel vans become the Bro-dozers of the early 21st century, (which is dumb), but the desirable boxy form factor means that the rest of us get to buy high-performance minivans (which is awesome).

Last edited 9 months ago by Amberturnsignalsarebetter
JumboG
JumboG
9 months ago

I remember GM and Dodge vans being far more popular than Ford vans in the 70s and 80s, I think because the Econoline had that strange front that stuck out a bit farther then the two competitors.

UnseenCat
UnseenCat
9 months ago
Reply to  JumboG

Ford tried to spin the extended front as making it easier to get to the engine for routine maintenance without having to pull doghouse cover in the cab, but in reality it gave little to no more access than what contemporary Chevy and Dodge vans had.

In reality, it was mainly so they could stuff the 300 straight six in the Econoline without shoving the doghouse cover completely between the front seats.

JumboG
JumboG
9 months ago
Reply to  UnseenCat

GM and Chrysler both had straight sixes in their vans.

Nlpnt
Nlpnt
9 months ago
Reply to  JumboG

It also had the tire-eating Twin-I-Beam front suspension. 15-passengers were half Ford and half Dodge it seems, with Dodge tending to get the low-bid contracts. Carpet stores were an interesting niche – they were practically all-Dodge through the ’80s since the ’78-up long Dodge had a crucial extra few inches between the front seats and rear doors that allowed the doors to shut on a standard bulk carpet roll. All those extended-van uses switched en masse to GM when they finally offered an extended van with a longer wheelbase instead of just more body tacked on.

Scoutdude
Scoutdude
9 months ago
Reply to  JumboG

No, the Econoline/E-Series became the best selling van in America the late 70’s and didn’t loose that title until the Transit mostly replaced it. At one point it accounted for more than 50% of van sales.

JumboG
JumboG
9 months ago
Reply to  Scoutdude

Was that like when the F-series was the best selling truck, but if you added Chevy and GMC together it wasn’t? Also, did it outsell Chevy, GMC and Dodge combined? Lastly, the Econoline might have been more popular with commerical users, where I normally saw them driven by families at the time.

Andy Individual
Andy Individual
9 months ago

All I remember seeing were Bedfords. Like everywhere

Nic Periton
Nic Periton
9 months ago

I have gone down a Transit rabbit hole, the ones I remember have gone, There are more 1970’s Ferraris for sale than Mk1 Transits, and some of them are cheaper. Quite like this one although I suspect that the ESP bit might be wishful thinking.https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/225666531395?hash=item348ac60043:g:2dUAAOSw~45kcC~j

Amberturnsignalsarebetter
Amberturnsignalsarebetter
9 months ago
Reply to  Nic Periton

30k miles! I wonder how many of those were behind the tow-truck?

Amberturnsignalsarebetter
Amberturnsignalsarebetter
9 months ago

TIL that SuperVan means something different to Econoline fans than it does to Transit fans.

Last edited 9 months ago by Amberturnsignalsarebetter
Geo Metro Mike
Geo Metro Mike
9 months ago

Those of you stuck working today to keep the economic machine moving: Thank You! (And a big sour face to your employer)

I’ll be rockin’ the work van today; but seriously thinking of taking it to the river instead for a wash. That image just projects tranquility.

Canopysaurus
Canopysaurus
9 months ago

Oh my darling, oh my darling
Oh my darling Econoline,
You are lost and gone forever,
Dreadful sorrow Econoline.

Happy Labor Day!

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