1961 Ford Econoline Gets First Wash in 44 Years, Old Thriftpower Roars Back to Life

First introduced in 1960, the Ford E-Series is still around as a cutaway or stripped chassis, which is downright amazing given that the current-generation van was launched in 1992. It also makes the E-Series the second longest-running van in history after the Volkswagen Transporter.
1961 Ford Econoline yard find 8 photos
Photo: This N That Garage/YouTube
1961 Ford Econoline yard find1961 Ford Econoline yard find1961 Ford Econoline yard find1961 Ford Econoline yard find1961 Ford Econoline yard find1961 Ford Econoline yard find1961 Ford Econoline yard find
Of course, the early E-Series, also known as the Econoline, is quite different than the van still available today. Because while it was marketed as a full-size, it was notably smaller. Specifically, while the current E-Series is a whopping 236 inches (six meters), in extended form, the first-gen Econoline came in at only 186 inches (4.7 meters). Yup, it's a whopping 50 inches (1.3 meters) shorter.

Needless to say, the modern E-Series is decidedly more practical, but I still favor the old Econoline. Because it's just as charming as the early Volkswagen Transporter and it's extremely easy to maintain compared to other classics from the era. And as the video below will show, they're easy to revive after they've been sitting for a very long time.

And by that I mean a few decades, because the 1961 Econoline you see here was parked sometime in the 1970s. The owner doesn't remember when he stopped driving it, but the license plate suggests it was last titled in 1976 or 1978. That's at least 44 years since this van got a sip of gasoline. And it's pretty amazing that it's still in one piece.

Repainted white right after it was parked for good, the Econoline took almost a half-century of sitting fully exposed to the elements like a champ. Yes, our host found the hauler all covered in mold and moss, but it's almost rust-free except for some rot on the driver-side rear fender. Granted, the frame could be in worse shape given how close it's been sitting to the ground, but it will remain a mystery until someone put it on a lift.

But YouTube's "This N That Garage" didn't come to the yard to find out if the Econoline is a solid restoration project. He dropped by to try and get the old inline-six up and running again. No easy mission when it comes to vehicles that have been sitting for so long.

Being a first-year Econoline, this van rolled off the assembly line with a 144-cubic-inch (2.4-liter) inline-six rated at 85 horsepower. The owner wasn't happy with the output so he swapped it for the larger 170-cubic-inch (2.8-liter) Thriftpower Six. Rated at 101 horsepower, the latter was available as an option from 1962 and became the standard mill in 1965.

Thankfully, the inline-six wasn't stuck after sitting for at least 44 years and our host managed to get it running again. Yes, it took a lot of effort and he pretty much had to take about half the engine apart, but hey, it's still better than a full rebuild. Making things that much better, the old Thriftpower still has what it takes to take the Econoline for a spin.

Finally, the van also gets a much-deserved cleaning at the end. It's quite satisfying to see all that mold and moss disappear like it wasn't there, but the sloppy white coating that remains is a bit of a letdown. Check it out in the video below.

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About the author: Ciprian Florea
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Ask Ciprian about cars and he'll reveal an obsession with classics and an annoyance with modern design cues. Read his articles and you'll understand why his ideal SUV is the 1969 Chevrolet K5 Blazer.
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