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Old 02-10-2017, 08:17 PM   #1
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Return of the Econoline 4x4

The first two production models of the E-350 cutaway SMB Classic 4x4 are moving down the line in Fresno. The fiberglass material does not feel exceptionally strong, but Brian says it is yet to be reinforced.
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Old 02-10-2017, 08:31 PM   #2
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Yeah, that inside view doesn't seem to show a lot of framing or anything.. interesting.

I always thought you generally wanted the framing integrated into the fiberglass.. of course, I'm no expert!
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Old 02-10-2017, 08:32 PM   #3
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Alan said they will offer the same body with an optional high top that can mate to the cabin where the penthouse roof currently sits. This will possibly come about a year after the pop-top model is released. The cabin will be two piece setup.

Alan also met yesterday afternoon (Thur, 2-9-17) with the designer from Germany to discuss the one piece high top cabin which would have completely vertical walls, 73" from side to side at the floor as well as at the ceiling. They are in discussions re. a possible prototype. The prototype wouldn't even start construction for another year and would be subjected to a long field test period before they even considered following that with R&D for a production model. ISTM that if such a model did get the green light, it likely wouldn't be available to any of us for around 5 years. The attached link is a German Hymer on a cutaway that I don't immediately recognize. Hymer is not the company SMB is negotiating with, and this one is not on a Ford, but the cabin would probably look something like this:

https://www.hymer.com/en/models/moto...ighlights.html
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Old 02-10-2017, 08:52 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by rallypanam View Post
Yeah, that inside view doesn't seem to show a lot of framing or anything.. interesting.

I always thought you generally wanted the framing integrated into the fiberglass.. of course, I'm no expert!
That's certainly how they build boats, but they are subject to a lot more stress. Without internal bracing or framing the walls would have to be pretty thick and heavy. I'm sure they will bond some structure to the inside.
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Old 02-10-2017, 09:43 PM   #5
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I dont know. Cost aside, that sure is a cool concept.
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Old 02-11-2017, 01:23 AM   #6
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Agreed. If I had the money, I would be on the list!
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Old 02-11-2017, 07:37 AM   #7
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No doubt there is an internal frame either from wood or aluminum. How else would they attach the interior and cabinetry? I saw their prototype at Expo west last year, and was impressed. Interesting that they did away with the drip rail, not sure how water is shed away from the doors though. Maybe Ford will keep the Econoline cutaway, if up-fitters keep buying them... Maybe Ford will put an Ecoboost in them... then we'll really have something to drool on!
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Old 02-18-2017, 05:22 AM   #8
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Are there really two new build vans on the actual active assembly line?

I was at the Fresno SMB factory in October, and all they had was the finished prototype on the showroom floor (made way back in 2014), and that same bare white shell on a cutaway chassis you have pictured. It was on that same lift in the back and looked dusty and neglected.

The interior of the prototype was just an EB50 design with a tad more width...nothing new like a sideways bed. I asked the employee (can't remember if the guy was named Alan or Brian) if they still planned to put it into production. He said "if the demand is there we will".

SMB west appears to have more Sprinter orders than they can handle...there must have been 20 new Sprinters parked outside awaiting conversion. I only saw a handful of used Ford vans awaiting repair or upgrade, and none on the active assembly line...all Sprinters. Not even a Transit!

I remember thinking I'd be very surprised if they moved forward with production of the cutaway body. It really seemed they had moved away from the E series and fully committed to Sprinter production.
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Old 02-18-2017, 05:40 AM   #9
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Alan said they will offer the same body with an optional high top that can mate to the cabin where the penthouse roof currently sits. This will possibly come about a year after the pop-top model is released. The cabin will be two piece setup.

Alan also met yesterday afternoon (Thur, 2-9-17) with the designer from Germany to discuss the one piece high top cabin which would have completely vertical walls, 73" from side to side at the floor as well as at the ceiling. They are in discussions re. a possible prototype. The prototype wouldn't even start construction for another year and would be subjected to a long field test period before they even considered following that with R&D for a production model. ISTM that if such a model did get the green light, it likely wouldn't be available to any of us for around 5 years. The attached link is a German Hymer on a cutaway that I don't immediately recognize. Hymer is not the company SMB is negotiating with, and this one is not on a Ford, but the cabin would probably look something like this:

https://www.hymer.com/en/models/moto...ighlights.html

In the link you see a Fiat Ducato.

It is pretty ugly. And a Ford cutaway will be likewise.
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Old 02-18-2017, 01:21 PM   #10
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It is pretty ugly. And a Ford cutaway will be likewise.
It does kinda remind me of this:



but functionality and performance are what really matter to me. If one were available right now, I'd buy it in a heartbeat. Not because it would be pretty enough to put in an art gallery, but because it could take me to thousands of places pretty enough to be in art galleries and give me a very functional living space at the same time.
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