Burnt Quadravan: 1986 Ford E-Series 4×4

As much as I love my Toyota HiAce project and want to see it camping beneath the moon and the stars, there’s one drawback that gives me pause: it’s rear wheel drive. Now, I prefer RWD, but since the HiAce is not a rock crawler, it’s lack of 4WD will seriously limit where we can go. Not the case for this rare 1986 Ford Econoline Quadravan, which is a rare 4WD conversion that is extremely popular with the camping crowd. Find it here on eBay with a $3,999 Buy-It-Now.

There’s just one problem with this Quadravan: it suffered a minor engine fire, which given the motor’s location, led to further damage within the cockpit. But before we get to that, let’s review the outside: it looks quite solid, not rusty and sporting faded (but likely original) paint. These conversion vans began life on a Ford assembly line like all other Econolines, but then the aftermarket – in this case, Pathfinder Industries – got into the mix to fit the offroad-capable suspension.

The Quadravan packs a capable 460 V8 and C6 automatic transmission, which is nestled under the dash and intrudes into the driver compartment. A fire – likely a small one, due to the lack of extinguisher dusts that suggests it smoldered out – unfortunately consumed some of the dash plastics and other components. Per the seller, “….This van will need carb, harness, wires, hoses, dash, dash components, windshield, paint the cowl, and I am sure I am missing something.”

This Quadravan is surprisingly bare bones inside, with just a row of captain’s chairs in the vast rear-seat area. This is dying for a proper camper conversion, with a folding couch/bed, a stove and sink cabinet, and maybe even some additional built-in storage areas. The price is right if you don’t mind the salvage title and sorting out the fire-related damages, but there’s always a risk that more issues will be lurking that aren’t disclosed here. Still, I think it’s a worthwhile gamble at the current price if the repairs don’t go beyond what the seller has identified.



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  1. KSwheatfarmer

    I helped fix a Cougar a long time ago with what seemed like a minor under hood engine fire. Recall it being much more damage than what first appeared. Some of the little things proved hardest to source.

    • LAB3

      Finding a salvage yard with parts from this era is going to get tough, at least up my way. Those aforementioned dood-dads would add up quick! Probably would make more sense to get a donor vehicle.

  2. Nrg8

    Nope, these book at 2k low retail running. Yes looks well maintained, new parts and after market bolt on goodies. But whole harness. So will a 6 cyl, smaller V8 work, or painless kit, probably a parts van is best route. Windshield, paint, AC will have damage on lines/heater box, dash gauges, controls, assume any electrical component shorted. Had dual battery so may have affected rv cabin area accessories. It will need deep shampooing, it will always smell. Even steering wheel has lost shape from heat. If you miss something, will it burn down again? Nope, nope nope.

  3. Superdessucke

    Looks like a nice van but I would be really afraid of the damage the fire did. I’d plan on replacing all of the wiring behind the dash and under the hood.

  4. Beatnik Bedouin

    Jeff, see if you can find a limited slip differential unit that could be bolted into your Hiace. I could ask one of my grandsons, who drives one daily for his construction biz what he’s running in his Toymotor van.

    I’m with the others, there’s going to be a lot more to deal with than what’s seen in the pics. I’d pass…

  5. EarlT500

    Easy fix with Time
    Note book, Wallet.

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