1961 Ford Econoline Truck Hides a Blasphemous Surprise Under the Hood

1961 Ford Econoline truck 14 photos
Photo: floridavintagevibe/eBay
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Introduced for the 1961 model year, the Econoline was Ford's first van. Designed to replace the F-Series-based panel truck, the Econoline was aimed at the popular Volkswagen Bus. The latter also prompted Chevrolet to launch the Greenbrier in 1961.
Originally a compact hauler, the Econoline grew in size with each redesign. Although the E-Series was officially replaced by the Transit, the nameplate lives on in cutaway and stripped chassis forms as of 2024. Its ancestor, the first-gen Econoline, is now a desirable classic.

But like many vans from the era, the E-Series is not particularly desirable. So, while some haulers have been restored to original specifications, most of these vans morphed into restomods. The 1961 pickup version you see here is one of them.

A first-year iteration of the original Econoline, this pickup ditched some of its original trim and gained a semi-gloss black finish. And save for the larger wheels (with fat rear tires), the modifications have been kept to a minimum. I would say it's a bit stylish for a hot rod.

The interior retains the stock appearance for the most part. The seats appear to be in excellent condition, while the painted surfaces are clean. Modern upgrades aren't very obvious at first glance, but this van now rocks a wooden steering wheel, an updated column, and a new shifter. It's nothing fancy, really, but spot-on if you love 1960s vans.

But things get a lot more interesting under the hood. Or should I say between the seats because that's where the powerplant sits. When Ford unleashed the Econoline, drivetrain options included a 144-cubic-inch (2.4-liter) inline-six good for 85 horsepower and a 170-cubic-inch (2.8-liter) lump rated at 101 horsepower. Well, as is the case with many 1960s Econolines, this one had its original six-cylinder replaced with a V8.

The swap was done by a previous owner who went with a 350-cubic-inch (5.7-liter) Chevrolet small-block. It's a rather unorthodox choice if you ask any Ford gearhead. There's no info on how much oomph it delivers, but the seller claims it has "lots of power" running to the rear wheels through the automatic gearbox. I guess the wheelie bars are a solid hint that this pickup is more potent than the average first-gen Econoline.

The truck reportedly runs and drives "extremely well" and has been stored inside by the seller and the previous owner. Overall, it seems this Econoline is a cool rig that would turn a few heads at the local cars & coffee. If it's something you'd park in your driveway, the pickup is located in Polk City, Florida, and carries a $16,500 sticker. Should the next owner drop a Ford engine under the cab? Let me know in the comments.
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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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