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Old 02-28-2012, 12:42 PM   #1
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Cargo or Passenger Van

Hey guys/gals:

Gas prices are rising fast. I am planning to take off NEXT spring in my ground up build. Plan to purchase a Ford E-250 Cargo Van OR a Ford E-350 Passenger van for the build.

A. Is one van better than another? I thought if I purchased a passenger version I would already have the windows in it. I know it will decrease the interior space a bit. I will be the only person using it for the most part so even a single bed is an option.

B. Should I get the 4.6L or 5.4L gas engine?

I am going to keep the interior very light in weight just a bed and lots of storage. This will be a consideration in engine choice. I understand there is not a big diff in price between the engines.Does anyone have a feel for the diff in power or gas mileage between the two?

C. I can't afford to fit it out with Quigley 4X4 for off road BUT how about if I had it jacked up 3-4 inches to give me a bit more undercarriage clearance and put some good aggressive tires on it. Anyone done this as an alternative?
Thanks,

jjtwister
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Old 02-28-2012, 02:08 PM   #2
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Re: Cargo or Passenger Van

Our van is 2000 Chevrolet Express extended cargo van with a 5.7L gasoline engine.

We chose a cargo van so we could pick window locations.

The 5.7L engine has averaged 16.0mpg over 95k miles. I estimate the weight of our modifications to the van in the area of 900 pounds (including water, food, clothing, etc.). Most of our miles driven on trips with very, very little city.

Ours is two wheel drive with no lift.
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Old 02-28-2012, 03:01 PM   #3
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Cargo or Passenger Van

I have a 5.4 and I get around 15 mpg haven't really done the math but I'm heavy. Even without all the camping gear. I drive mine daily so I don't care too much. Plus I love it. It's two wheel drive and I just put some cooper discoverer a/t3 tires on it. I notice it to move or be more responsive but when it's windy a ten thousand pound van can be a little loose. "white knuckle". As far as the engine choices...there is never Too much power but maybe too little. Go with the 5.4 you will be spending about the same on gas/ mileage and if you ever needed to tow you could just fine.
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Old 02-28-2012, 03:08 PM   #4
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Re: Cargo or Passenger Van

In blue below my 2 ct.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jjtwister
Hey guys/gals:

Gas prices are rising fast. I am planning to take off NEXT spring in my ground up build. Plan to purchase a Ford E-250 Cargo Van OR a Ford E-350 Passenger van for the build.

A. Is one van better than another? I thought if I purchased a passenger version I would already have the windows in it. I know it will decrease the interior space a bit. I will be the only person using it for the most part so even a single bed is an option.

With the passenger version, there will be no lost space if you remove the side walls.
You have already big windows in place and the body around the windows is welded instead of glued, on the cargo one, the body will be a little stiffer.


B. Should I get the 4.6L or 5.4L gas engine?

I am going to keep the interior very light in weight just a bed and lots of storage. This will be a consideration in engine choice. I understand there is not a big diff in price between the engines.Does anyone have a feel for the diff in power or gas mileage between the two?

C. I can't afford to fit it out with Quigley 4X4 for off road BUT how about if I had it jacked up 3-4 inches to give me a bit more undercarriage clearance and put some good aggressive tires on it. Anyone done this as an alternative?
Check macmcintire, his van is 2wd lifted

Thanks,

jjtwister
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Old 02-29-2012, 10:53 PM   #5
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Re: Cargo or Passenger Van

Hey there jjtwister,
I’ve been working with Ford 4x4 vans since the mid 80’s and I’ve built a few like you are describing. I also worked for large company that used Ford vans with both size engines you are asking about. We got better overall MPG with the 5.4L because with the 4.6L everyone always had the gas pedal floored.
Always go with a one ton (350) if you can because these conversions always end up close to or over the GVWR when fully loaded. One thing you may or may not care about is that some states have different registration cost for “one tons” and/or may have to be registered as a “Commercial vehicle”. As far as the interior, the vans are the same if the trim package is the same - Base/XL/XLT etc.. The empty cargo vans are the lightest and most flexible for your mods but normally do not come with power locks and power widows, if you want these features get a van with them factory installed, it’s a pain to try to upgrade. The doors are different if you want power mirrors etc..
As far as lift kits for the twin I beam front end, yes you can get a few GOOD kits (try Camburg Engineering) but stay away from the cheep kits out there. For the rear end, If you have a cheap (cheaper than full 4x4) Detroit locker installed you can still get to most dirt and gravel road campsites.
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Old 03-01-2012, 01:34 PM   #6
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Re: Cargo or Passenger Van

Something to think about is the RV type windows that can be installed in a cargo van have screened openings, where the passenger van windows don't have screens. If you want curtains it is a pain to put them up and down every night on all the windows in a passenger van.

The carpeted floor on a passenger van is harder to keep clean while camping.

On the other hand, it is a lot easier to find cheap used passenger vans with the right equipment.
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Old 03-02-2012, 01:26 AM   #7
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Re: Cargo or Passenger Van

Great points!

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Old 03-03-2012, 04:56 PM   #8
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Re: Cargo or Passenger Van

I've had both, cargo and passenger. And both of them have the same factory equipment.

If I could do it over again, I'd go cargo van for the privacy- min amount of windows. Other then that, not much else to say.

But what I'm about to do for the current passenger van that I have is spray paint the inside of the windows... well the ones that don't use. lol

Find one that fits your budget.

Oh and I honestly get 14-16mpg in my V10 at posted speed limits... AND it's so nice to have all that power for whenever you want to boogie or tow!
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Old 03-03-2012, 05:49 PM   #9
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Re: Cargo or Passenger Van

For a mild, or Transformer style conversion, I think a passenger van is a great starting point. Yes, you have slightly less width to work with, but w/out permanent cabinets, that probably doesn't matter as much. Windows can be blocked with reflectix or similar for privacy.

But the biggest advantage is you are starting with a mostly finished van, which can be camped-in off the dealer lot, once you pull a few seats and toss a mattress in the back. It's already insulated, and has a good amount of soundproofing. Overall, I think it would be a huge time-saver when doing a mild build.

Now for a full-build.... I think a cargo van is a better template, since its a blank slate and you can stick windows almost anywhere you want, or don't want. And, you can see the structure you will be attaching your cabinets to.

Having the factory rear HVAC is really welcome in extreme temps. The V10 is quiet enough that running it for power and HVAC isn't unreasonable.
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Old 03-06-2012, 12:45 PM   #10
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Re: Cargo or Passenger Van

I agree with carringb on the A/C and the V10 being nice and quiet. The wife and I have pulled over and taken many road trip naps in the desert with A/C on.
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2003 Ford E-350SD 4x4
V10 / 4R100 / NV271
Front Axle - 1 Ton Spec Dana 60/King Pin/Open Knuckle/High Steer
Rear Axle - 1 Ton Spec Dana 60/Full Floating
Eaton E-Lockers Front And Rear/4:10 Gears
ARB Differential Covers - Nodular Iron With Dipstick And Drain Plug
Leaf Spring Suspension Front And Rear
46 Gal Transfer-Flow Fuel Tank
ExtremeAire Magnum Air Compressor
Reunel Rear Bumper
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