1974 Ford Econoline Sat in the Woods for 35 Years, Comes Out in One Piece

When stored in a heated garage, a classic car will survive for decades in one piece. We can't say the same about vehicles abandoned in the wild. In most cases, a decade of exposure to the elements is all it takes for a car to become a pile of rusty metal. Well, this Ford Econoline was luckier than the rest and survived for a whopping 35 years in the woods.
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Photo: Restored/YouTube
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A 1974 model, this van was taken off the road sometime in 1986. So it spent 12 years in service and no fewer than 35 in a forest. A sad fate for any car, no matter the brand or the nameplate. And this van spent so many years in one place that nature took over completely and covered it in vegetation from top to bottom. It's a good thing the owner knew it was there because it was almost impossible for anyone else to spot it.

The Econoline was discovered by the folks over at YouTube's "Restored" when they visited an abandoned Texas farm filled with more than 100 classics. They picked a couple of cars to take home, the Econoline included. But dragging the van out of its resting place was a very difficult task.

As documented in the video below, the rescue mission involved a lot of cutting. Actually, "a lot" is an understatement. These guys spent hours cutting vegetation to get to the van. All while having absolutely no idea if it's still in one piece, if it still had tires that could hold air, or if it was buried deep in the ground or not.

Not surprisingly, the Econoline is in really bad shape. I think it looks a bit better than expected for a vehicle that's been sitting outside for 35 years, but it's definitely not worth restoring. There's rust all over the place, the wheels are coming off, and rats are jumping out of it while it's being towed away. But hey, it's still in one piece, and it's better to see it dismantled for parts rather than crushed at the junkyard.

Second-generation Econoline vans weren't very valuable back in the way, so it's not surprising that some people got rid of them after only 10-15 years of use. They're not exactly valuable nowadays either, but they're slowly gaining recognition as collectible classics.

1974 was the final year of the second-gen Econoline, which debuted in 1968. Ford not only redesigned the hauler from the ground up but also enlarged the wheelbase by almost 20 percent, while also offering a long-wheelbase version that was a whopping 37-percent longer than the original van.

Ford also introduced a V8 engine to the lineup, adding the 302-cubic-inch (4.9-liter) Windsor to the existing slant-six powerplants. As the Econoline grew into a full-size van in 1975, the second-gen hauler remained an interesting compromise between the massively popular E-Series and the tiny first-gen van. And it's great to see that someone still cares about these seemingly unwanted vehicles.

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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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