Well the end is here for this particular project. A new owner just drove off a couple hours ago in their new van. They were excited to take it out camping in the coming weeks. It's a bittersweet moment. I loved this van and loved the process of executing the ideas I had. Like every project, if I were to build another van with the same exact goals, I would wind up with a completely different van. But as times change I don't have the same goals anymore. This time around I want a van with excellent towing qualities, a more nimble driving attitude, and a more camping capable but not camping dedicated persona.
Since we bought a toy hauler last January to tow our CJ5 in, my thoughts on what I need in a van have changed considerably. The 5.4L in the Ford was not truly up to the task of towing the 5900 lb toy hauler with a 2500 lb CJ5 inside. The Ford Extended's axle to hitch length did not suffer the weight behind it well either. More like the tail wagging the dog.
It became obvious what I needed to do when I hitched up Lady Shadetree's Chevy Colorado 4 Door V6 and it towed the toy hauler (empty @ 5900 lbs) faster and with less drama than the E350 did. The Colorado has 50 more HP and slightly less torque than the Ford 5.4L, but it also has considerably less weight to haul around. The Colorado accelerated up hills pulling the toy hauler the 5.4 could only maintain speed on.
Now if I could just get even more power than the Colorado in a newer van. Chevy's 6.0L makes 341 HP and 373 lbs.-ft of Torque.
So we are now on a quest for a standard length Chevy Express 3500 LT, 6.0L passenger van.
We are planning on doing some mild changes, 3" raised spindles on the front, 1.5" lift in the rear, Fox shocks, tires, wheels, stereo, solar, batteries, chest style fridge, mulling over ideas for a tri-fold bed in the back.
So the Ford chapter may have ended but this never ending van story will continue with a new protagonist. Long live the van.
I will say this about the old E350, it's the only project vehicle I've built in the past 40 odd years that I didn't lose a butt load of money on. I got a lot of interest advertising on a couple of Facebook Groups.
Stay tuned... I'm hoping to test drive a Chevy tomorrow.