Home » Those Slightly Curvier Postal Trucks Aren’t What You Think

Those Slightly Curvier Postal Trucks Aren’t What You Think

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Every day, mail carriers hop into specialized vehicles built to help them deliver your holiday presents, car parts, bills, and spam through the snow, rain, heat, and gloom of night. Many of these postal workers command the famous Grumman Long Life Vehicle, the Chevy S-10 with a durable aluminum body that rarely gets into public hands. Less known is the Ford-Utilimaster Flexible Fuel Vehicle. Built to replace postal Jeeps, these mail trucks are bigger than the LLV and slightly weirder. These trucks have more power than the LLVs do and yeah, some of them even have four-wheel-drive, so not even ice can stop your next high electricity bill from reaching your door.

If you’re a weirdo like me, one of your dream cars might be the Grumman LLV. The Long Life Vehicle is one of a handful of American utility vehicles deserving of being called an icon. Can you imagine an American neighborhood or city without seeing the blue and white eagle emblazoned on those aluminum wonders? If you’re young enough, you may have spent your entire life thus far seeing these charming trucks in your town and hauling mail to your residence. You may even know someone who drives one!

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It’s estimated that the United States Postal Service has well over 100,000 LLVs on the road. That’s impressive considering the last LLV was built in 1994. The USPS is trying to replace them, but for now, those hard-working trucks are a critical part of the postal delivery fleet. On the other hand, Ford and Utilimaster built just 21,239 FFVs, a fraction of the LLVs out there.

Istock 4737105116
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Despite being on the road in fewer numbers, the FFV serves an important role in the Postal Service. Let’s take a look.

Aging Vehicles

This story takes us back to the late 1990s. The Grumman LLV was now out of production after replacing the Jeep DJ. However, the USPS still had a problem. In the thesis, An Investigation of the Enablers and Inhibitors to Achieving a Shorter Cycle Product Development System by then-Massachusetts Institute of Technology Master of Science in Engineering and Management student Michael P. Pepin, the USPS still had Jeeps it needed to replace. It should be noted that Pepin was also Ford’s Project Manager for the FFV, so his paper comes from his perspective of the project.

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The USPS couldn’t just replace these Jeeps with any trucks. As the United States Government Accountability Office (GAO) writes, the Energy Policy Act of 1992 initially dictated that 25 percent of government fleet vehicle acquisitions had to be alternative fuel vehicles. By 1999, this percentage increased to 75 percent.

This left the USPS with a challenge. The USPS needed a new vehicle. From the start, this vehicle needed to survive the abuses of mail delivery. According to the GAO, this means a truck that withstands harsh weather while also being able to stop and start around 500 times a day. That alone is difficult enough, but those trucks also need sturdy doors and locks that need to be able to be operated far more often than any regular passenger vehicle. Of course, trucks like the LLV proved it could be done.

Usps Grumman Mail Vehicle In Downtown Tucson Az
csfotoimages – iStock

Only now the USPS needed more of the same on a greener platform.

Rapid Development

The wheels were set in motion when, as Pepin wrote, in August 1998 the USPS approached Ford and Utilimaster with a bid for 10,000 Carrier Route Vehicles. A month later, Ford and Utilimaster offered a proposal to build the USPS right-hand drive mail trucks with a similar aluminum body as the Grumman LLV. Of course, these trucks would also be able to run on E85, thus meeting the requirement for fleet acquisitions to be able to run on alternative fuels. Ford and Utilimaster would then deliver that new mail truck within a year.

Gao 11 386 United States Postal Service Strategy Needed To Address Aging Delivery Fleet
GAO

Pepin’s paper explains in detail how Ford and Utilimaster did it so fast. Something like this would have normally taken Ford three years, yet the FFV was completed in a third of that. The development team was lean, consisting of five engineers from Ford and a small team of engineers from Utilimaster. Ford had a body engineer, two chassis engineers, an electrical engineer, and a powertrain engineer project leader.

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In addition to having that small and efficient team, the engineers and designers of the FFV worked offsite at the ACI Carron prototype build shop. Apparently, this was done to ensure the team wouldn’t get distracted. Likewise, if something happened with the design, the engineers and designers were right there in a prototyping facility. Getting the FFV to the USPS in just a year didn’t just require working long hours,  the engineers and designers had to lock in the design quickly, test prototypes in environmental chambers rather than waiting for seasons to change, and optimize seemingly every part of the design process.

@thelilrubix1

What’s inside a mail truck part two! #ffv #llv #usps #postalproud #amazon #sunday #rain #fyp #foryourpage #government #spartin #car #truck #covid19

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Another critical element to the speed of development was Ford and Utilimaster both using as many existing components as possible. Ford’s team decided to use the Explorer as a platform. It was available in right-hand drive and as a flex fuel vehicle. For Utilimaster, the FFV’s body would be new, but it was constructed out of off-the-shelf aluminum extrusions. Reportedly, just three FFV components required new stamping dies and molds. Those were the truck’s roof, dashboard, and hood.

The first FFV prototypes hit the road a mere five months after Ford and Utilimaster were awarded the USPS contract. By August 1999, just a couple of days off from exactly a year when the USPS sent in its proposal, Ford and Utilimaster presented the production FFV. Pepin’s paper says one USPS Engineering Manager loved it so much he said: “I want to have Ford as our supplier for life.”

Better Than The LLV

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That manager had good reason to love the new Ford-Utilimaster Flexible Fuel Vehicle. On the outside, it looked like the Grumman LLV, but the concept was improved in key areas. The most obvious changes happened with the exterior design. The FFV is 17 feet long, two feet longer than the LLV. This affords the FFV greater cargo volume. You’ll also notice a window on the cargo box of the FFV. That’s there to assist the driver in making left turns.

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Like the LLV, the body of the FFV is made out of aluminum and the USPS expects these trucks to last at least 24 years. What makes the FFV stand out from the LLV is what’s under the body. The Grumman LLV is essentially a Chevrolet S-10 underneath. It’s rear-wheel-drive and powered by a four-cylinder. LLVs with the 2.5-liter Iron Duke made 92 HP. Later LLVs with the 2.2-liter LN2 four likely made around 110 HP.

The FFV? Thanks to its Ford Explorer roots, mail carriers got more oomph under the hood. From Ford’s press release:

The starting point for the new vehicle is the chassis from a right-hand drive Ford Explorer, similar to that engineered for export to Australia, Japan and the United Kingdom. The chassis is a C-channel, six cross member design made from low-carbon steel. The suspension system for the delivery vehicles has been specially adapted for the unique requirements of this vehicle.

The new Postal Service vehicles will be powered exclusively with Ford’s renowned 4.0-liter SOHC V6, which has been adapted to run on either gasoline or E85 ethanol. The SOHC engine develops 160 horsepower at 4,000 rpm and peak
torque of 225 ft.-lbs. at 2,750 rpm. The engine is mated to Ford’s 5R55E five-speed automatic transmission, driving the rear wheels via a unique 3:55 limited slip rear axle. The steering system for the vehicle is the powerrack-and-pinion set-up taken from the right hand drive Explorer. It is equipped with 15″ steel wheels and LT195/75R15C tires.

Uspsdropoff
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Ford understated how much more the USPS got from the FFV. Those LLVs didn’t just have wheezing little engines, but they were also paired with a three-speed automatic. I won’t say that making a mail truck out of a second-generation Ford Explorer brought the USPS into the 21st Century, but it was a mechanical leap forward. Also important to note is the limited-slip differential, which helps drivers get through snow, ice, and rough rural routes.

Ford’s press release didn’t mention it, but some FFVs were available with four-wheel-drive. This came to the attention of many people online recently when an FFV was shown getting stuck in the snow. Then the truck’s driver put it in four-wheel-drive and powered out.

Building the FFV was another collaboration. The chassis was built at the Explorer plant in St. Louis and then shipped to Utilimaster’s plant in Wakarusa, Indiana to become a mail truck. Just 21,239 FFVs were built between 1999 and 2001. USPS first ordered 10,000 units before asking for the rest. The USPS needed more replacement trucks than were provided by Ford and Utilimaster, so it filled the gaps with Ford Aerostars, Ford Windstars, Dodge Caravans, Ford Freestars, and Chevrolet Uplanders. Later, the USPS would pick up some Mercedes-Benz Metris vans and slap on some eagle badges instead of the three-pointed star.

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Worse For The Wallet

While a four-wheel-drive 160 HP V6 mail hauler sounds sweet, the GAO report notes that the FFV project is an expensive one. See, running E85 is better for the environment. Ford claimed running E85 resulted in 30 percent fewer greenhouse gases. However, running E85 also results in higher fuel costs. It also doesn’t help that the only engine Ford provided was a 4.0-liter V6, as that was the only Explorer engine that was E85 compatible.

White Usps Truck Stops At Apartment Building Complex On Sunny Day In America
TrongNguyen – iStock

The GAO report looked at average fuel prices paid by the USPS in 2010. That year, the USPS was paying an average of $2.62 a gallon for regular gasoline. E85 was a cheaper average of $2.27 a gallon. However, the USPS estimated a 27 percent to 30 percent difference in fuel economy when a truck drove on E85 versus when it was fueled on regular fuel. The GAO presented this difference as a theoretical. An FFV drinking regular fuel that got 10 mpg got just 7.15 mpg on E85. Despite E85 being a cheaper fuel, the E85 FFV would cost $0.32 a mile compared to $0.26 a mile for regular fuel. This would be on top of a per-unit cost of $20,537 for each FFV, or $36,085 today.

In reality, it was worse. In 2020, the USPS monitored the fuel mileage of its trucks and vans. The LLVs, which are well past their expiration dates, were getting about 8.2 mpg on average. The FFVs were getting just 6.9 mpg while those snazzy Metris vans got an even more horrible 6.3 mpg. In 2010, the USPS consumed 587,000 gallons of E85 fuel, costing the Postal Service $135,700 more than it would have spent on regular fuel. So, the FFVs may drive better than the LLVs, but they cost more at the pump. Perhaps it won’t be a surprise to read that only a small number of FFVs get fueled with E85.

You Still Can’t Buy One

Mail Carrier Puts Mail In A Mail Box
JillianCain – iStock

If you’re like me and you now want a Ford-Utilimaster FFV in your fleet, I have bad news for you. That 4×4 mail truck camper build is going to have to wait. As it is, Grumman LLVs rarely come up for sale and most of the ones that do are the ones that weren’t used in mail service, but as municipal vehicles. I can’t even find an archived listing for an FFV for sale.

Thankfully, the USPS wants to replace all of these old and thirsty mail trucks with new more efficient ones. The Oshkosh Next Generation Delivery Vehicle is a weird air-conditioned mail truck that’s supposed to start replacing the LLVs and other trucks beginning summer of 2024. The USPS hasn’t indicated what will happen to its massive fleet of mail trucks, but we hope they hit the auction block for us non-postal workers to enjoy.

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For now, you’ll just have to appreciate these hard-working vehicles from a distance. The next time you see one of these mail trucks, you now know that they aren’t just some stretched LLVs. Instead, you’re looking at a snow-beating maybe four-wheel-drive Ford Explorer hauling the mail.

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RB
RB
2 months ago

The best way to show your affinity and desire for one of these noble vehicles, should you see one on the street, is to look the mail carrier in the windows of their soul and explain how much you love the LLV and FFV while gently caressing the vehicle’s grill..perhaps even tracing around the headlights with a fingertip.

James Mason
James Mason
2 months ago
Reply to  RB

*with a fingertip wetted by your saliva”

Myk El
Myk El
2 months ago

I like reading about highly utilitarian vehicles such as this. I don’t actually want to own one, but what goes into the creation of vehicles designed to do a specific job is interesting to me, so more of this, please.

Geo Metro Mike
Geo Metro Mike
2 months ago

Interesting background on the FFV. Thanks Mercedes! Unfortunately, none of them here are 4wd, and the carriers don’t care much for them. You’re always smashing your knee getting in and out with the smaller door opening, and there’s no access to walk into the cargo area from the cab like the LLV.

I love the LLVs but this office is getting rid of them next year and replacing them with the Metris. So far there are 4 2023 models on the lot. Not sure what power plant is under the hood but holy cow they are fast!

Unclewolverine
Unclewolverine
2 months ago

As a boondocks carrier who works in an all personally owned vehicle, (pov,) office I wasn’t even trained on one of those, but it was sitting there at academy. I’ll keep my old rhd xj vs a glorified explorer. At an average 14 mpg with my mighty 4.0, maybe the postal service should of talked to chrysler instead of ford

Harvey Park
Harvey Park
2 months ago
Reply to  Unclewolverine

But then the mail would be late or lost even more than it is today as the vehicle breaks down.

Unclewolverine
Unclewolverine
2 months ago
Reply to  Harvey Park

Are you insinuating that an explorer is more reliable than an xj cherokee? Take your meds my man.

rctothefuture
rctothefuture
2 months ago
Reply to  Unclewolverine

Something something, “The XJ won’t tip over!” something something.

BuiltMNtough
BuiltMNtough
2 months ago
Reply to  Harvey Park

You obviously don’t know anything about XJs then

MrLM002
MrLM002
2 months ago

I actually learned of the existence of these a couple weeks ago. I unironically would love to have one of these. I’d do an explorer manual swap and turn it into a little camper.

Sliding doors FTW!

Flyingtoothpick71
Flyingtoothpick71
2 months ago

I want to take a llv and make it into a little stanced speaker mobile. like generally i dislike stance cars, and cars that are all subs but i think it would be hilarious to see at a gas station car meet.

Austin Vail
Austin Vail
2 months ago

There are endless possibilities for LLV customization. It is based on an S10 chassis, after all. That means you can get parts to make it handle better, parts to make it a drag racing missile, parts to take it drifting, or parts to lift it and make a rock crawler out of it. You can do anything with an S10 platform!

Personally I’d love to build a hot rod out of one. Paint it flat black with flames, add some dressed up red steelies on whitewalls, and shove a smallblock Chevy V8 under the hood. It’d make a hilarious little parts hauler/camper!

I also imagine many people would start building food trucks out of them since the small but spacious footprint and basic drivetrain would have some appeal.

LLVs may be pretty crappy to drive in stock form, but on paper they make fantastic blank canvases to do whatever you want with, which is why I hope they get sold to the public instead of scrapped.

Flyingtoothpick71
Flyingtoothpick71
2 months ago
Reply to  Austin Vail

exactly, the llv has nearly endless possibilities because the s10 had endless possibilities. theyre a terrible platform stock(other than what they were meant to do), so the only way to go is up when you modify them!!

Electronika
Electronika
2 months ago

I don’t know. When I was in high school in Los Angeles in the early 90’s the USPS was dumping the DJ’s and they were seemingly everywhere. While I am sure that there were guys who made them into cool things out of them, almost every one was a rolling death trap. It seemed that most of them were snapped up by poor hippie’s who snapped them up for a song, painted them with house paint and rattle cans and held them together with bubble gum and duct tape. In fact, I remember once seeing the sliding door off of one flying off on the 405 and sailing over my car almost decapitating me. In fact, when I was reading David Tracy’s postal jeep adventures I almost had to go see a therapist for PTSD, but thankfully the condition of his seemed to be far better then 90% of the ones that I saw in the wild when I was a kid so I was able to talk myself down and enjoy the ride..

Now I have nothing but confidence that if Mercedes somehow found a 4X4 FFV she would do everyone proud but I am sure that if suddenly the market was flooded with cheap, falling apart 2wd 900,000 mile worn out RHD postal vehicles many would either be turned into “Hold My Beer” YouTube disasters or cheap I need something with 4 wheels and a motor cars for poor people who can’t afford the overpriced cars on the used market today.

Some things are best sent to the crusher when used up.

Last edited 2 months ago by Electronika
Austin Vail
Austin Vail
2 months ago
Reply to  Electronika

That comes across as a rather selfish viewpoint. Hold-my-beer YouTube builds are fun, and the LLV has endless modding potential thanks to its S10 chassis and the huge aftermarket that comes with. With off-the-shelf bolt-on parts, you could turn an LLV into a drift car, drag racer, track day missile, or rock crawler, for relatively cheap. I for one hope for and look forward to it becoming the next popular modding platform.

And even in stock form, there are in fact very limited good used car options and releasing 100,000 used mail trucks to the public would surely help at least a little bit. Think of it as a correction to cash for clunkers denying cheap used vehicles to the world. They’re made of aluminum so rust isn’t as much of an issue as it was for mail Jeeps, the engines have reliable reputations and it would be easy to swap a common Chevy V8 into one if it fails, and even if it breaks down and the owner can’t afford to fix it, there will be someone out there willing to buy it and fix it up again. Plus, even poor people need transportation to get a job in most parts of the country. If they don’t have a job, how will they have a chance to save up for better transportation? Why would you not want them to have that, other than just general disdain for poor people?

They’re clearly not all “used up” quite yet, as they are still in service, and will be retired in 2024 before they become too difficult to maintain as fleet vehicles. They will be easier to keep running in the hands of the public who have access to engine swaps and whatnot. And what life they have left could contribute to someone finally having shelter and transportation and gaining access to a better life, so I don’t think they should be crushed at all. Let the vehicles live as long as possible, as Grumman intended.

Electronika
Electronika
2 months ago
Reply to  Austin Vail

So I don’t mean to be selfish. Let me say that first. But I don’t think its just about releasing cheap cars as a good thing. They are right hand drive, don’t have great visibility and the last thing I want are more dangerous vehicles on the road. They wouldn’t be very safe for passengers either. I am all for buying them up for a spec racing class and making them cheep or something like that. Or starting a company that buys them pulls the bodies off them and sticks some light fiberglass body on them and sells them cheap to poor people. How about an spec off road buggy thing?

I just don’t want more garbage on the road playing bumper cars without insurance at my already too expensive to buy, insure, maintain car with my precious family,.

Austin Vail
Austin Vail
2 months ago

The concerning bit as far as dreams of buying government surplus retired mail trucks goes is that none of them have VIN plates. The surplus LLVs that were sold to the public when production ended in the 90s had to have Chevy Blazer VINs added before they could be sold off.

The USPS would have to get permission to install VINs on all of these in order to sell them to the public, which might be cost-effective provided there’s enough demand for them to sell at decent prices, but given the push to get environmentally unfriendly vehicles off the road, the USPS may be forced to scrap them instead.

I do hope that isn’t their fate though, I’d love to build an LLV with a flames on hot rod black paint job, dressed-up red steelies with dog dish hubcaps and chrome trim rings, whitewall tires, lowered suspension, and an SBC under the hood for a little extra scoot!

Last edited 2 months ago by Austin Vail
Ranwhenparked
Ranwhenparked
2 months ago
Reply to  Austin Vail

I would be very, very surprised if the LLVs were sold to the public. The world is a different place, in regulatory and litigious matters, than it was when the DJ5s and the military’s M151s were sold off (in the latter case, they actually cut them in half before disposal, but surplus dealers were fine with welding them back together, which was perfectly fine in the ’80s and ’90s, but try getting that past the Maine or Georgia DMVs today)

Boxing Pistons
Boxing Pistons
2 months ago
Reply to  Ranwhenparked

Even if there weren’t complications like you stated, I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if the government scrapped these gas-guzzlers that have zero modern safety features.

Austin Vail
Austin Vail
2 months ago
Reply to  Ranwhenparked

I imagine they would have to be sold the same way surplus military vehicles are sold today, including specific instructions for how to get them registered and some kind of waiver you have to sign to make sure the USPS isn’t held accountable for whatever happens to you in your LLV.

Ranwhenparked
Ranwhenparked
2 months ago

Don’t think they expect forklifts and hydraulic lifts to be tagged and put on the road though

VanGuy
VanGuy
2 months ago
Reply to  Ranwhenparked

Just curious, is there a reason you specifically cite Maine and Georgia DMVs?

Ranwhenparked
Ranwhenparked
2 months ago
Reply to  VanGuy

Because they’re among the ones currently refusing to register perfectly fine classic cars for no discernible reason

VanGuy
VanGuy
2 months ago
Reply to  Ranwhenparked

Oh, damn. And that goes beyond the infuriating kei car shenanigans going on all over?

Ranwhenparked
Ranwhenparked
2 months ago
Reply to  VanGuy

They’re not registering anything with a non-standard VIN format now

Dumb Shadetree
Dumb Shadetree
2 months ago
Reply to  Ranwhenparked

surplus dealers were fine with welding them back together, which was perfectly fine in the ’80s and ’90s, but try getting that past the Maine or Georgia DMVs today

Has Georgia gotten stricter? Out my way in the midwest you can register whatever you want, the DMV has no fucks to give. Repaired salvage? Sure. Homebuilt cars? Ok. Homebrew EV conversions? Makes sense. Off-road utility vehicles badly modified in a half-baked attempt to make them street legal? They gave me license plates and a registration without ever looking at the thing.

Sure you’ll get pulled over eventually if you drive it in the city, but show the police your fancy registration papers and be polite and they’ll just laugh at you and tell you to be safe.

Ranwhenparked
Ranwhenparked
2 months ago
Reply to  Dumb Shadetree

They won’t register classic cars with VINs that don’t conform to the modern format, I’d say that’s pretty strict

Dumb Shadetree
Dumb Shadetree
2 months ago
Reply to  Ranwhenparked

Huh, I’d agree that’s getting pretty strict. Bummer.

Delta 88
Delta 88
2 months ago

Regular Car Reviews has a video on an LLV. The dude bought it off of some government surplus auction site or something like that

Edit: I think it may actually be the site you linked, but I don’t think it was the same LLV

Last edited 2 months ago by Delta 88
Austin Vail
Austin Vail
2 months ago

Well, at least if there’s precedent for LLVs selling for new Nissan Versa prices, that could be incentive for the USPS to sell their remaining fleet to the public. It’d probably help offset the costs of all the new trucks they have to buy at least a little bit.

Razzmatazz
Razzmatazz
2 months ago

The winning bidder actually owns a shop that services vehicles for the USPS, and he’s adding it to his fleet of loaners. Kinda sad considering how clean it looked, but it’s doing what it was designed to do in the end. I just hope it gets to enjoy an actual retirement someday in the not-too-distant future (I also bid on it lol).

Austin Vail
Austin Vail
2 months ago
Reply to  Delta 88

That one was one of the original surplus LLVs though, which were given Chevy S10 VINs so they could be sold to the public back in the 90s. They’re very rare and highly sought-after now, due to being the only LLVs in private hands.

Ivan256
Ivan256
2 months ago
Reply to  Austin Vail

One would imagine they will be breaking retired LLVs down for parts to keep the remainder of the fleet on the road for some number of years before they even considered selling them off.

Austin Vail
Austin Vail
2 months ago
Reply to  Ivan256

That’s what they’re already doing from what I’ve heard, any LLVs no longer fit for service are sent to government storage facilities to become parts trucks for the remaining LLVs. But if the USPS is replacing their fleet anyway, they’d have no reason to hoard LLV parts anymore. I imagine the parts trucks will be scrapped, but maybe the complete ones will be spared, who knows?

LTDScott
LTDScott
2 months ago
Reply to  Austin Vail

A friend of mine is a mechanic for the USPS and confirmed that LLVs are being scrapped pretty commonly now because Jasper can’t find good Iron Duke 2.5 cores to rebuild anymore. If I could post photos I’d share the photo he sent me of two LLVs being plucked off a rollback and tossed into a scrap pile.

Austin Vail
Austin Vail
2 months ago
Reply to  LTDScott

That’s a shame. In theory since it’s an S10 platform, a smallblock V8 wouldn’t be too difficult to retrofit in one, but government workers don’t think like enthusiasts I guess.

More reason why it would be a good thing for these to be sold to the public sooner than later, so they can make their way into more creative hands that can find different ways to keep them on the road.

Last edited 2 months ago by Austin Vail
Matt Sexton
Matt Sexton
2 months ago
Reply to  Austin Vail

LLV’s absolutely do have their own unique VINs. If you take a look at one, you’ll find it on the dash right where you’d expect it to be. I’ve done so. If you take an LLV VIN and put it into decoding software, you will get the correct answer. For legal purposes, they have to be coded like anything else.

When I was doing web scraping for exotic VINs, I was able to compile a list of LLV VINs. It wasn’t many, as not many are in private hands.

Austin Vail
Austin Vail
2 months ago
Reply to  Matt Sexton

I know all the LLVs in private hands have VINs, as they had to have them installed before they could be sold to the public, but was told that the ones used by the USPS don’t have VINs since they are government vehicles. Happy to be proven wrong though, as if they do all have VINs that gives them a much better chance of being sold off through government surplus auction sites like retired military vehicles.

Matt Sexton
Matt Sexton
2 months ago
Reply to  Austin Vail

Well like I said, next time you see an LLV parked somewhere, go over to it and write down the VIN. Then put that VIN into the decoder of your choice, and find out for yourself.

Mail trucks are not plated, so maybe that’s where you’re getting confused.

Last edited 2 months ago by Matt Sexton
Razzmatazz
Razzmatazz
2 months ago
Reply to  Matt Sexton

Yep. They’re just RHD S-10 Blazers with custom bodies, so they all have Chevy VINs assigned to them by GM. From the operator’s manual: “The VIN is the legal identifier of the vehicle. It appears on a plate attached to the top of the instrument panel on the driver’s side. This plate can be easily seen through the windshield from the outside of the vehicle.”
What they don’t have are titles, registrations, or insurance because they’re federally owned vehicles and the USPS takes care of all that themselves. An impound lot in Nebraska jumped through some hoops to “legally” get a state title and tried to sell one a few months ago. Unsurprisingly and unfortunately for them, it was repossessed by USPS OIG shortly thereafter (don’t mess with the feds, folks). But it would be possible to get them titled and registered if the USPS were to sell them.

Matt Sexton
Matt Sexton
2 months ago
Reply to  Razzmatazz

There are LLV’s in private hands though. Not many, but they’re out there.

One of the more famous ones hits the drag strip: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8q48QrRCfeI

So there’s obviously an avenue for the USPS to release them into the wild.

Razzmatazz
Razzmatazz
2 months ago
Reply to  Matt Sexton

Oh there absolutely is. There are stories of rural carriers at smaller branches unofficially being gifted their LLVs after a lifetime of service, which is allegedly one way some actual USPS LLVs have made their way into private hands. The rest of them escaped into non-USPS hands from the factory. That’s the case with LS Postal too, though ironically it made its way into USPS service after its first retirement (hence the livery).
https://www.thetransmission.com/2020/02/24/ls-postalvan/

I really hope the USPS sells off the survivors when the time comes for their retirement, but I’m afraid they’ll end up cannibalizing and crushing their whole fleet until they fully transition to the NGDV. Their official policy right now is to crush and recycle them rather than sell them, probably for a number of reasons. At the very least they need to give their best examples to some auto museums for preservation.

Scoutdude
Scoutdude
2 months ago

I remember when I first saw one of these in the wild. It sure looked like an updated LLV but it had Ford Ranger wheels. Once I got a view of the dash it was definitely a Ford Instrument cluster and steering wheel.

I’m not sure why they didn’t do it on a Ranger chassis or at least engineer mounting for the Ranger/Taurus FFV’s Vulcan 3.0 V6. Should have been at least a little bit more fuel efficient and definitely more durable than the 4.0.

06dak
06dak
2 months ago
Reply to  Scoutdude

If I remember from my youth, absolutely no one wanted or desired the 3.0 in a Ranger for any reason. It was less durable, drank just as much gas, with less power output. Today those are the throwaway Rangers instead of the desirable 4.0 Rangers.

Scoutdude
Scoutdude
2 months ago
Reply to  06dak

Yes it has significantly less power than the 4.0 SOHC, and only a little less than the 4.0 but uses much less fuel than either. It is far more durable than the 4.0 SOHC as used in these vehicles.

Torque
Torque
2 months ago
Reply to  Scoutdude

Going by Mercedes article above… if flex fuel was a requirement and the Exploder engine already was a flex fuel capable, I can understand Ford going with the Explorer instead, just easier that way. I.e. full explorer minus its clothes… especially given the tight time constraints

Scoutdude
Scoutdude
2 months ago
Reply to  Torque

The Ranger in 3.0 form was already FFV and at the time many of the components were shared between the Ranger and Explorer.

MP81
MP81
2 months ago

so not even ice can stop your next high electricity bill from reaching your door.

Well…it can, because it won’t stop…because it’s ice.

Chronometric
Chronometric
2 months ago

Good vehicle, and an amazing delivery schedule. But it’s still a boondoggle. The E85 requirement made some corn belt senators happy while limiting design options and inflating the operating costs. I guess that would be ok if the goal of reduced emissions was realized but then reality set in and they ran them on gasoline anyway.

Ranwhenparked
Ranwhenparked
2 months ago
Reply to  Chronometric

Like the PR materials for the original Chevy Volt advertising “40 miles of emission free electricity with biofuel or gas powering the car afterward” yeah, right, nobody was filling their Volt’s tank with biofuel, cut the crap GM

DadBod
DadBod
2 months ago
Reply to  Chronometric

I was going to ask if the E85 requirement was part of the corn scam

Diana Slyter
Diana Slyter
2 months ago

Retired UPS Motor Vehicle Service lady here, again…
Other than the thirsty V6 this was a better vehicle in almost every way that the LLV. Reputedly these were built on short wheelbase Australian chassis to get the RHD. As for 4WD, I’ve heard rumors of 4WD LLVs and FFEVs, but even in Minnesota I’ve never seen one and our shopped looked after hundreds of these. USPS did have some 4WD Jeep Cherokees in the Black Hills of South Dakota assigned to carriers and some of the rural carriers who supply their own vehicles had 4WD Jeeps though. Also heard rumors of LHD LLVs, but never seen one.

Ranwhenparked
Ranwhenparked
2 months ago
Reply to  Diana Slyter

Ford made an attempt at export sales for the 2nd generation Explorer. RHD variants were all built on the same line in St. Louis as the North American spec ones, were exported to Japan, Australia, New Zealand, and the UK, but not in the numbers Ford hoped for.

Bizness Comma Nunya
Bizness Comma Nunya
2 months ago

The 4.0 SOHC was such a garbage design. They made decent power for the time, that’s about all the positive things I can say about them.

Last edited 2 months ago by Bizness Comma Nunya
Scoutdude
Scoutdude
2 months ago

Let’s keep it so there is only one head casting needed, Instead we’ll make a ton of other new parts to be able to drive the one bank off of the back of the engine. In typical German nature of why use only X parts to do the job when we can use 2X, 3X or even 4X.

Bizness Comma Nunya
Bizness Comma Nunya
2 months ago
Reply to  Scoutdude

YEP! I grew very tired of doing timing chain related work on these pieces of shit a while back. Towards the end they finally got it right, but they did have numerous TSBs and I think even a recall at one point.

Ford already had a (2.9L) DOHC head design with timing chain(s) located in the front of the engine basically ready to go on the Cologne V6 years before the SOHC Cologne even came out. The problem was that the Cosworth/DOHC spec engine was never offered in the U.S, only UK/EU market Scorpios.

Imagine if Ford had taken the 2.9 DOHC head design and adapted it to the 4.0L block. It probably would have ate the 5.0 and 4.6L V8’s lunch for overall performance/efficiency.

Cerberus
Cerberus
2 months ago
Reply to  Scoutdude

Subaru had only one casting for the EJ SOHCs (don’t know about the others, but probably them, as well), however, they designed it so that the cams could be installed facing either direction. Even the turbos were the same, just with some different machining for the turbo oil and coolant lines (maybe a couple of other things, but I’m remembering from over 20 years ago). It was really clever and something I didn’t know until I first tore one down.

Widgetsltd
Widgetsltd
2 months ago
Reply to  Cerberus

Only the SOHC head castings for the EJ were designed to be bi-directional. In practice, the SOHC heads were usually specific to right vs left because the EGR tube port would only be drilled/tapped on the left head. The DOHC heads on the EJ (whether turbo or N/A) are specifically cast as either left OR right.

Last edited 2 months ago by Widgetsltd
Cerberus
Cerberus
2 months ago
Reply to  Widgetsltd

Yeah, they weren’t really interchangeable, but they saved Subaru some money in only needing the one casting. I suppose, if one really needed to, they could modify the head. I never bothered with the DOHCs as that was around the time they stopped making Subarus I wanted (well, until the 2nd generation twins), except for maybe the 2.2 Impreza coupes.

Scoutdude
Scoutdude
2 months ago
Reply to  Cerberus

Yup a a much easier and cheaper way to do it.

Bizness Comma Nunya
Bizness Comma Nunya
2 months ago
Reply to  Scoutdude

I had no idea that Subaru used the same casting for both EJ SOHC heads. I think Mitsubishi did that with their V6 heads a while back, but I could be mistaken. From an engineering standpoint I think it makes sense to have 1 head casting, only if the cam drive can be done from either end, unlike the 4.0 SOHC…

Canopysaurus
Canopysaurus
2 months ago

I won’t judge you for wanting an old LLV (or FFV) if you don’t think it’s weird that I want an old Divco shorty milk truck.

Flyingtoothpick71
Flyingtoothpick71
2 months ago
Reply to  Canopysaurus

no one should judge you for that, it’s so cute! I love it

Ranwhenparked
Ranwhenparked
2 months ago
Reply to  Canopysaurus

No one’s judging that, Divcos are are cool and Art Deco looking, like a bubble front UPS package car did the nasty with a Chrysler Airflow

Hondaimpbmw 12
Hondaimpbmw 12
2 months ago
Reply to  Canopysaurus

My dad was a door to door milkman and drove Divcos. Standing up and operating the stick shift w/ the combination clutch/brake and the seat pushed out of the way was quite the trick. Your right heel and the steering wheel were the only points of stability.

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