I'm not sure about what year they started using them, but I will say that it's easy enough to drill holes if you don't have factory ones. I did this on my 1998 van and installed the OEM running boards before I knew the "proper" way and hardware to use. It was a pain as I had to hold the board up, mark the holes, drill the holes, etc. In retrospect, I think the holes may have been there already and I just didn't know it.
I also installed a set on my dad's 2012 E150, using the actual directions and factory hardware, and it was a lot easier knowing where to look for the holes!
The OEM hardware uses speed nuts, which are p-clip sort of things with a built in thread on one side. These just clip over holes that are drilled in the body seam and frame IIRC. When I hear "nutsert" I think of a different thing, but maybe that's what you meant here. As far as I recall, none of the OEM holes on the 2012 were tapped or threaded. All relied on the speed nuts for installation.
In an older thread I posted the actual OEM install instructions, as well as what the speed nuts look like. Best bet is to look at the instructions and then look under your van to see if the holes are there already (I'm guessing they are, but that's just a guess).
[EDIT: I just looked again at the Ford install instructions I posted in the link above, and notice that the directions say "Econoline 2000>" on the first page]
Originally Posted by MountainBikeRoamer
Hey, what production year did Ford first come out with those running boards
I've got a 1995
E250, and it doesn't have any of the factory "pre-tapped/threaded bosses" in the underside of the van body
to facilitate simple bolt-on of those running boards. Wondering what years Ford started producing those running boards and installing them as an option....because that's probably the year that the van bodies started coming from the factory with the threaded bosses already in place underneath (to allow dealers to easily bolt on those running boards.)
Bringing this up because:
It's something to be aware of for anyone shopping for those boards.....make sure your van already has the threaded bosses underneath, or you'll be having to install blind rivet threaded bosses (sometimes called "nutserts") into all of those body locations to bolt those running boards on.
Not impossible or that difficult, but it's just an added bit of labor/cussing/etc.