Cult Classic Haulers: The Memorable Ford Econoline & Dodge A100
The 1960s were a decade that brought us some of the most unusual and iconic car designs in American history—but it wasn’t just the sports and luxury cars where you’d find this.
Working vehicles and family haulers also exuded the style and experimentation of this period and both Ford and Dodge produced a line of “cab forward” vans and pickup trucks that stood apart from their more traditional competition.
Ford's Econoline Inspired by Volkswagen Bus
Ford started things off by debuted its new Econoline van in 1961. Inspired partly by the Volkswagen Type 2 bus as well as other European vans, It rode on a modified version of the Falcon chassis, but shifted things around to put the front seats above the front axle and moved the engine back to a mid-front layout.
Power came from an inline six engine that sat directly between the two front seats and the vans were offered in both windowless cargo and passenger configurations.
Ford also introduced a truck version of the Econoline in ’61, identical to the van up front but with an open seven-foot bed. All in a vehicle that was much more compact than the traditional F-100 pickup.
1964 Dodge A100
Dodge joined the party in 1964 with its A100 vans and pickups, which featured unibody construction and the same “forward control” cab over axle configuration as the Econoline.
The A100 was powered either by one of Chrysler’s legendary slant six engines or by a small block V8. In 1967 a longer wheelbase A108 van joined the lineup for those seeking more cargo and passenger capacity.
Both models were short-lived. The first gen Econline was a replaced by an all new van in 1968 that used a front engine layout and shared a lot more with the F-Series pickup. The A series vans and pickups were around until 1970 when they were replaced by the new Dodge B-Series van.
Cult Favorites and Exhibition Vehicles
Even though they were around for less than a decade, both the A100 and the Econoline have become cult favorites and popular bases for customization. Drag racers also used them to build crazy exhibition wheel-standers like the Galpin Ford Back Up Truck and the Little Red Wagon Dodge.
As another sign of their cultural significance a Dodge A-series van named Dusty is even recurring a character in the Disney Cars films.
Both have also become popular diecast cars for Hot Wheels, Matchbox and others for their distinct looks and cool vintage character, helping to cement their status as a short-lived but memorable chapter in American automotive history.
And, of course, you also have the even more unusual Corvair-based Greenbier pickups and vans that Chevy sold during the ‘60s—but that’s a story for another day.
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