1973 Ford Van Specsby John Wasinski
Ford vans were a solution for both commercial business and recreation. As a commercial vehicle, Ford vans provided a utilitarian and maneuverable vehicle for hauling cargo. As a recreational vehicle, these vans could be outfitted for camping or off-road fun.
Ford work vans were known as the Econoline or E-series. Buyers could select a cargo van, display van, window van, school bus package or parcel delivery van. Display vans had windows on one side for displaying merchandise or to provide daylight for a workspace. Models were designated as the E100, E200 or E300 based on hauling capacity. The passenger version of the 1973 Ford Van was the Club Wagon. It was available in five-passenger, eight-passenger or 12-passenger capacities.
Ford vans had a short hood that allowed engine access from the front. According to a 1973 Ford Econoline advertisement and the Econoline Dealer Data Book, a choice of sliding or swinging side doors was available. Ford used a "square-wall design" that provided less taper at the roof than competitive vans, making the Econoline more suitable for built-in shelving and workbenches. The Econoline was designed for city maneuverability, with a 40-foot turning radius on the E100 and E200. The extended wheelbase version of this model had a 45.1-foot turning radius. The Club Wagon was available in standard, Custom and Chateau editions, each with an increasingly stylish interior and exterior trim. The 1973 vans were basically unchanged from the major redesign of 1968. Ford vans would continue in this body style for one additional year before being re-engineered in 1975.
Dimensions and Payload Capacity
The standard-length Econoline and Club Wagon had a 105.5-inch wheelbase and measured 169.1 inches in total length. The extended van offered a 123.5-inch wheelbase and total length of 187.1 inches. Ford claimed a gross vehicle weight rating of up to 4,325 pounds for the 1973 E100, 5,250 pounds for the E200, 6,050 pounds for the E300 and 6,200 pounds for the extended wheelbase E300. Vans could be optionally upgraded with heavy-duty axles, springs and tires. With optional upgrades, the extended wheelbase E300 had a gross vehicle weight rating of 8,300 pounds. The Club Wagon maxed out at a gross vehicle weight rating of 7,800 pounds.
Engines and Transmissions
The standard engine in the 1973 Econoline E100, E200 and Club Wagon was a 240-cubic-inch six-cylinder engine. The E300 came equipped with a larger 300-cubic-inch six-cylinder power plant. All vans could be ordered with Ford's 302-cubic-inch eight-cylinder engine, the most powerful available in the Econoline. The standard transmission was a three-speed manual; also available was a three-speed Cruise-O-Matic automatic transmission.
An interesting aftermarket conversion for 1973 Ford Vans was four-wheel drive. Known as Quadravans, these vehicles were equipped with a Dana 44 heavy-duty front-axle housing, a Dana Model 20 transfer case and larger brakes. These vans were ordered through a Ford dealer, and then shipped to Pathfinder Equipment Company for conversion. Some vans were further customized to serve as recreational vehicles.