1983 Ford Econoline Club Wagon/E-150 302 straight 6 from North America


If you're looking for a reliable party van, why not an Econoline?


Considering the beast of a van still has under 100,000 miles on it, and I've driven it only the last 3000, not much has gone wrong.

The seatbelt holders have broken, and therefore when you unbuckle the seatbelt, it will wrap up in itself and is rather difficult to retrieve. I temporarily fixed this issue with a pizza box and some electric tape to create new sleeves, this however only lasted for about a week.

The powersteering had an issue where a bolt was loose that caused the entire assembly to attempt to break free and jam into the radiator. Before it could however, I remedied the solution by finding the proper bolt that was loose and tightening it. I think something is loose, as if I take a sharp corner, there is a distinct clunking, most likely some worn rubbers.

However with all that mouthful said, the vehicle has yet to leave me stranded anywhere.

General Comments:

The obvious benefit of having a club wagon is the space. I've transported a full sized bed, a futon and other furniture in it with no problem. Note the version I have has only 1 bench seat, leaving a very open back area.

The old straight 6 motor is very lackluster. A V-8 would be much nicer, and was offered at a higher price of course, however the idea of getting better mileage with the 6 might come to mind... this doesn't prove very effective as the carburetor fed six gets me 10 MPG city, although I did record one highway mileage as high as 18 MPG, that is certainly an exception from the norm.

Some oddball things about this vehicle include the dome light that only comes on when you twist the headlight knob all the way to the right, as though they figured you'd only want it if you really couldn't see your instrument cluster for some reason. Rather than the norm of you open your door and it's night time, and you'd care to see what you're getting out of your vehicle as you leave.

Also there is no glove-box at all. So there isn't a nice place to store things like registration and proof of insurance.

The clearance is decent much better than a mini-van, as well it has standard 5 lug 15 inch rims so tires are easy to find. My girlfriend received hers as a gift when she moved to college in California, and we painted it with a nice set of waves on the side and an under the sea theme on the back, as the stock tan was very bland.

The parking is a bit tricky if you're not used to a large vehicle, however it is equivalent to the late 90's version of the van, which I have also driven extensively. It has a true frame and an odd doted headliner that is some type of plastic so you don't have to worry about it sagging with age.

It is perfect for sleeping in and road trips if you have a nice group of people, and so slow as the old 6 cylinder may be, it still has enough torque to take a full load up mountainous hills, and good enough brakes/low gear to take you back down again.

If you need an affordable van and despise mini-vans like myself, this is a fine option.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 3rd November, 2009

4th Nov 2009, 12:35

Didn't "party vans" go out in the early 80's?

5th Nov 2009, 18:41

The Ford inline-6 was indeed a hell of an engine. But buddy you got your specs wrong. The 302 (5.0) is the V8, not the 6. Other than that, great review. They're both good motors and that I-6 they put in the Econo and F150 for over a decade.. if it's the same one you got, expect longevity... they made those engines from the 70's up till the early 90's, you got the last of a dead breed.

21st Apr 2017, 17:38

Yes... but back in style as retirement and travel loom on the horizon.... Party On!

22nd Apr 2017, 14:50

Some of us flower children/baby boomers have since moved up. I bought a new high top Conversion Van loaded with DVD. Could have bought a new Mercedes. We fell into the system and got careers. Now late in life we have a higher disposable income. Not bad for being once anti-establishment. Vans were really hot at one time.

1st May 2017, 22:24

That's great and good for you... my success as a musician and professional driver has kept things a bit more retro and simple... still a flower child / baby boomer and moving up myself into simple, inexpensive and classic, and every bit as happy too!

2nd May 2017, 09:44

Maybe a new Prevost motor home would be better today as a successful boomer today/musician.