My uncle Benjamin was a bit of a car hoarder. He had a gorgeous late 1970s Ford Camper Special, the 1976 Chevrolet Camaro Type LT that started my automotive sickness, and he had a van similar to this 1972 Ford Econoline in the garage of my grandfather’s house. Benny liked to fashion himself as a mechanic by trade, but he had a problem: he was great with taking things apart, but when it came time to put them back together…well, that didn’t happen. Unlike his brother David and my cousin Vance (who was closer in age to Benny than to me), Benny didn’t really have the ability to spin wrenches. If one of those two wasn’t standing behind him directing every last move, it didn’t get put back together. Sometime in the mid-1990s, my grandfather grew tired of the vehicles on his property and after an ultimatum period passed, he had all three sent to the scrapyard. I missed the Camaro immensely…I had begged for it as a kid and naturally, I was written off. The Camper Special I’ve come to miss as well…picture an emerald two-tone F-250 regular cab that had PERFECT paint. In hindsight, that truck probably only needed a battery to run before the engine got yanked. But the van..the van was Benny’s focus. It sat in primer, and he was always cagey about the end game for it.
I’m not a van person for the most part, but after seeing what’s been done to this Ford, I could be. The exterior isn’t perfect, but it’s close. Minor imperfections plus a set of modern slot-style wheels on BFGoodrich T/A Radials set the mood, and inside a clean forward compartment and bare cargo area with shag carpeting keep the feel alive. But instead of an inline-six, a warmed-up 306ci Ford 5.0 mill and an AOD overdrive motivate the van around. The Ford might have started life in Boston (I wonder if Lohnes or Craig Fitzgerald has heard of Morrows Aluminum Co. Windows and Doors?) but if you can find a speck of rot on it, you are doing better than I am.
We can think of many things to do with a setup like this, but why is it that I always return to the image of camping on a beach somewhere it’s sunny?