5th Wheel Hauler! 1987 Ford E350 Cabriolet

Tailor-made for hauling fifth-wheel trailers in style, this professionally-modified 1987 Ford E350 Cabriolet van in Quincy, Illinois comes to market with plenty of miles left to cover. Customized directly from the factory by Cabriolet conversions in Constantine, Michigan, the one-ton van features dual rear wheels, a luxurious space behind the front seats for passengers or sleeping, and a powerful V8 for trailer-hauling. With 92,000 miles on the clock, this heavy hauler could be yours for $12,700. See the listing right here on BarnFinds for more details and pictures.

The dollar store steering wheel wrap normally indicates a worn original rim, but sometimes they come off and reveal a perfectly-preserved stock wheel. An add-on tachometer and toggle switch for the 50-gallon fuel tank add vital information and extend the truck’s non-stop range, respectively. An electric trailer brake controller interfaces with the trailer wiring as required on larger trailers in most states. Some TLC would be handy to understand whether those marks on the engine cover are dried mud or permanently-aged plastic.

The Ford 460 cid (7.5L) can’t compare to today’s monster truck engines, but the bountiful torque will tow a substantial load down the highway. More than likely the automatic transmission is a three-speed C6 with no overdrive. That may seem hard to believe in these days of eight-speed transmissions with multiple overdrive gears, but trucks hauled heavy loads at highway speeds for decades without overdrive, and you can too! The lack of a 5th-wheel hitch in a vehicle purpose-built to utilize one seems a bit odd, but many can be removed when you want to haul cargo, and it should be simple to put one in place. By positioning the trailer load directly over the axle, the fifth-wheel hitch makes for greater stability compared with a bumper-mounted hitch. A bumper hitch gives the trailer more leverage against the suspension for a higher probability of bouncing on uneven roads and bridge transitions.

The comfy rear seat folds into a bed. While this may offer minimal value when camping, many of these rigs took on Hot Shot duty pulling three-car carriers and other light commercial hauling where the “sleeper” is incredibly valuable to grab some legally-required shut-eye before continuing the journey.

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This sales brochure appears to depict the exact rig we’re featuring today. Conversion vans were all the rage in the ’80s. Thanks to competition they could often be purchased for barely more than a well-equipped factory van. This variation became a natural extension of the conversion-van craze, a stylish and unique solution for niche buyers. Can you see yourself hitting the open road in this custom hauler?

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Comments

  1. Bluetec320 Bluetec320 Member

    I like the Chevy squarebody taillights better than the Ford van lights of the era on this rig. It has a cleaner look.

    Like 2
  2. Claudio

    Been a member of an rv group for 25 years and have been a car and truck lover for many .
    Being an avid rv’er , i have seen a few of these and a few hillbilly specials , i have always admired these but would feel like i was going backwards buying a truck with carb and 3 speed tranny

    It would cost too much to get it modernized with all our daily goodies but i sure would love one !

    Like 1
  3. chrlsful Member

    yeah, I like them too, very much (also don’t think I’d own, too ‘specialty’). Like it best of all the centurions (followed the co a lill over the yrs as it got traded off, moved states, etc).
    BUT…if I hada ‘haul job’ I’d hop on it. Most have ele systems butchered over the yrs so take a look…sometimes the roof at the glass/metal interface (lets go some).

    Like 1
  4. Rosco

    These are definitely cool and unique, but the asking price is ridiculous. You can see that a lot of work is going to be needed around the top of windshield, windshield pillars, as well as other areas where fiberglass portion is grafted on. There was a much nicer 1990 Cabriolet on here a while back that sold for $5000.

    Like 2
  5. Dave Mathers

    We built and sold a bunch of those back in the day. They were based on a Ford E350 Cutaway chassis.

    Like 2
  6. Car Nut Tacoma

    Sweet looking 5th wheel hauler. The only upgrade I’d give it would be a Powerstroke Diesel engine.

    Like 1
    • RH

      Of course a diesel would be nice, but you might want to do some measuring first. Pretty sure a Powerstroke isn’t going to fit without butchering it up. Stick with the gasser and take care of the rust and fiberglass issues first.

      Like 1
    • Tirefriar

      460 is a solid motor. With proper upkeep this will go another 100k miles easy and pass everything but a gas station. Cant say that for trans especially if this rig was used to pull heavy loads. Either case this a pretty cool set up. I use an F350 crew cab to haul my track bikes and the rear seat is a decompression area in between track sessions. I’d have rather preferred this set up with a fold out bed and turn my track DAY into a track WEEKEND. Plus the lower height would make loading/unloading bikes much easier

      • Larry Member

        This vehicle was used to pull a 40 foot 5th wheel camper before someone took the 5th wheel out to haul various bikes from what I understand

  7. Claudio

    I am canadian and live in a montreal suburb
    There has been one of these sinking in the ground for the last 15 years or so
    The fiberglass has split from the steel roof cause of the rotting steel and im sure the little critters are comfortably reproducing inside, what a mess,
    I tried to get a hold of someone but no one wants to talk
    I would have salvaged the good parts and transfered to another cube van /used motorhome as the homes come very cheap once the water has destroyed the camper area
    With all the fees and exchange rate , this thing would end up costing me double and the demand /love for these is too low …

    Like 1
  8. Larry Member

    I have already checked and a 7.3 powerstroke diesel engine will fit without any cutting

    Like 1
    • RH

      You are correct. Anything is possible with enough time and money. A person could save a lot by finding a better truck to start with. One that wouldn’t have the body/rust issues. Those things will be a fortune to repair on this one.

      Like 1
  9. Larry Member

    I don’t know who does your body work but I have a super great body man that is very reasonable on his work. The rust that you are referring to is only surface rust. There is no rust threw whatsoever

    Like 1
  10. Larry Member

    Price has been lowered down to $11,500. Delivery is available. 573-541-1970

    • RH

      That’s a start in the right direction. In my opinion, still at least 6K overpriced.

      • Larry Member

        Well I guess you are wrong there as I have already had an offer of $8500

  11. RH

    Take that fool’s money and “Run, Forrest, Run”!! Paying that much for a worn out Centurion needing a ton of work makes no sense to me, but again, just my opinion. Good luck with your sale.

    Like 2
  12. Larry Member

    First of all it is not worn out, not by a long shot. Second it is not a Centurion, it is a Cabriolet. You would know that it is a Cabriolet just by reading my ad. You are just upset because I would not take your low ball offer!!!

  13. RH

    Take the imaginary $8500 offer and run Forrest!! You’re right, it is a Cabriolet, not a Centurion. My mistake. As far as me making a low ball offer, didn’t happen! Maybe in a dream? Sorry, don’t want it when there are much better examples around for more reasonable prices. As said before, good luck with your “sale”

    • Larry Member

      RH, you must have a sad life if all you have to do is bashing someone’s ad, especially since you haven’t even come to look at it.

  14. RH

    Relax boss, and don’t be so sensitive. As I have clearly stated, just my opinion of what I think the value of a vehicle is. Pretty similar to the comments everyone makes by looking at the vehicle photos on this site. Not bashing, just different opinions, which I think we are still entitled to.

    Like 2

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