Crazy Dually Van Conversion

1983 Ford E350 Dually

Centurion was known for finding niches that the manufacturers didn’t think about and filling them. They took new trucks, cut them up, and combined them to created things like four-door Broncos and, apparently, even dually van/truck creations like the one seen here. They were good at adding more utility to utility vehicles and I bet after some work, this old van could be quite the work horse. It’s located in East Bridgewater, Massachusetts and is listed here on craigslist for $1,900.

Cab Area

The interior needs to be cleaned up, but the 460 V8 and automatic transmission have been replaced recently. The unique headliner piece is included and it shouldn’t be too hard to find the replacement parts since most everything came from the Ford parts bin. Not sure what the lamp shade is doing back there, but I suppose the rear cab area might have been setup as a sleeper since it’s big enough back there to stretch out and catch some shut-eye.

Ready To Tow

Then again, why would you want to do that when there’s a fifth wheel camper out back? This dually was likely used to drag around a big RV, but it could be used for just about any task that requires some heavy lifting. There’s a little damage out front, but the Centurion specific fiberglass bed appears to be in good shape.

Fender Bender

There are some cosmetic needs here, but the price seems right for such a capable and unique hauler. It would be interesting to know what becomes of it. Hopefully the next owner has the resources to get it all cleaned up and put back into duty though because this isn’t a rig you see very often. What do you think would be a good use for it?

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Comments

  1. Rabbit

    These things were all the rage with car dealers in the 80’s. They’d use them to tow up to a 5-car trailer. I believe they were called Tow Lounges. And…..that’s no lamp shade, it’s a “Cone of Shame’.

  2. Leo

    Most were listed as “Centurions”. Done right they are incredible tow vehicles with very luxurios interiors. Most had wild graphic packages.

  3. AMCFAN

    These also catered primarily to the show horse crowd. These really don’t have much of a use today and are more of an oddity. Body from the doors back is exclusive. Hope you don’t need anything.

    The 460 will only achieve about 7-8 mpg. The leg room from the Econoline which is better then the Chevy and Dodge counterparts of the era is still minimal compared to a conventional pick up.

    This rig looks pretty rough and looks to have had a hard last few years. Have seen nicer examples sell for a little more than the ask needing no work (just gas!)

  4. Dolphin Member

    Well, if this vehicle floats your boat….or tows your trailer, I’m glad. Maybe there really is a bum for every seat. It does have the advantage of being cheap.

    But I have a strict policy that I don’t drive butt-ugly vehicles like this one and the preceding vehicle here on BF. And if I were going to tow something heavy I would be doing it with a Cummins and getting the usual 19/20 mpg, loaded.

  5. racer99

    Rear of frame where trailer hitch is located is pushed up under the truck. Probably will need to find something similar and splice a new frame section into it.

  6. JagManBill

    racer99, these were not intended as bumper pull units. Strictly 5th wheel for campers. Problem was, as the 5th wheel unit got old/sold and replacement tow units came about these quickly got separated from they’re original trailers and became orphan pickups. A friend of ours had one of these with its original 30ft camper which was blown off the 5th wheel in Wyoming. They bought a new 5th wheel horse trailer with LQ and after another year or so sold the van/truck for a new F350 dually. It still ran fine, but they did not age well cosmetically. The (as noted above) 7-8 mpg was replaced by a 22mpg diesel. I rode with them once in both units. Even with a 460 the van felt like it was laboring with the 4 horse slant/LQ, the F350 you didn’t even know it was back there…

    • Alan (Michigan)

      Yes regarding the normal intended use… but racer99 has a valid observation. There IS a class 3 or 4 receiver under the truck, and is has been pushed in, a LOT.

      I look at this posting and see what was once a VERY expensive vehicle, now in a terrible state. Ugly, abused, and poorly cared for don’t even cover what is left of it.

      There are markings in the back window which to me indicate that it was auctioned last November. Maybe the current seller decided that he bit off more than he could chew….?

  7. Danny

    I just spent a considerable time writing a comment. I clicked Post Comment and it was rejected because I forgot to put my user name and email address. I fixed that and clicked Post Comment and I got rejected due to no comment?? I never had this problem before?
    Read more at http://barnfinds.com/crazy-dually-van-conversion/#Cz6xyHB1AbE7CG6e.99

  8. whippeteer

    I don’t think the graft between the front end and the back of the van sheet metal has fared well. The repair looks bodged.

  9. Clinton

    Just stumbled across one of these pretty close to where I am working in Tennessee. It’s in decent looking shape but obviously hasn’t moved in years. Told my wife I wanted to buy the Vandullaytruck. I am half tempted to leave a note on it.

  10. Clinton

    Here is the one I am talking about above. We saw it 2 days ago. It’s so ugly and not logical to own that I feel I have to have it.

    • Alan (Michigan)

      Certainly looks to be in better shape than the subject vehicle! Go for it, Clinton.

      Like 1
  11. tbenvie
    • Alan (Michigan )

      Prediction:
      No bids at the starting amount, unless by a brother, uncle, cousin, etc.

      • Alan (Michigan)

        Yep, NONE, with 2 hours left. looking at the photos again, I’m really curious about the screw clamps on the driveshaft!

  12. Daniel

    Balancin weights
    Put 2 clamps on one in each direction,
    180 degrees apart.
    In this postion they do not effect the
    balance. Put one set near the front of the
    shaft and one set at the other end.
    Start moving the clamps away from each
    other an see which set works to reduce
    your vibration. Then you can leave the
    clamps on or tack some small pieces
    of steel on.

    • Alan (Michigan)

      Great concept!

      Thanks for posting, it would have taken me a while to think of that.

  13. Bus Plunge

    These two door trucks were prone to rust really bad where the fiberglass met the van front. The 3 door Centurians were much better and more aesthetic looking in my opinion Centurian also made pickups. I owned one. It looked good but quality issues on the conversion were rampant…. The memory of owning this truck is so much better than the reality. The little girl in the picture is now 35 and the boy is 38. Picture was taken at truck stop in Joplin MO in 1984 or so

    • Danny

      In the background is a GMC Astro cab over engine tractor. I have stopped at this truck stop many times during 1976-1981 when I ran 48 states and Canada for Johns-Manville.

  14. chad Member

    Bus Plunge,
    Now that I like best (has a p/u front, NOT van).
    Just wish the top was higher…

    They seem pretty rare?

    Thanks for any comment – if ur still around.
    chrlsful@aol.com

  15. Danny

    DO NOT READ THIS if you are not ready to read a way too long post! -)) I have had a 1981 Ford E150 for 33 years and 203,000 miles. I like the E series better than the F series because the seat height is more like chair height. The floor to ceiling height in the van is much more than in the F series. The F series pickups have a longer hood but the engine is not any easier to reach than the E series. But in the van we could walk between the seats and fix food or take a nap in the full size bed I had put in the back on a wooden platform. In 1984? Ford put the 6.9 diesel in the van but it only came with a C-6. The F series came with the 6.9 and 5 speed T-34 transmission. A few years ago Ford discontinued the manual shift transmission on all pickups. The F series is a completely different frame and body, there are no compatible parts other than the engine and C-6. In 2009 I bought a 1987 E-350 former ambulance with a high top. I was working on converting it to a camper. With the high top I can stand up which is much better than standard height van. Now Ford vans, Fiat, who makes the Dodge vans and Sprinter vans, come with 3 different roof heights, no more cutting off the roof and putting an aftermarket fiberglass roof on it. I might just buy a new Ford 350, medium height roof, long body, unfinished interior and convert it into a sleuth camper which can be parked in a driveway or W-M without anyone knowing it is a live in camper. A new completed class B motor home costs $30,000.00 to $50,000.00 over the price of the basic van itself. For that money I can hire a cabinet maker to complete the interior, add a generator or solar panels and a couple of holding tanks and just drive between the kids and grand kids homes, visit until unwelcome and come and go as I please.
    So why a van rather then a pickup, walk through between the front seats, stand up height roof, porta pottie, cooler and bed accessible without getting out of the van at a rest area or a camp ground during a rain event. Why a pickup rather than a van, more car like seating but you could pull a 5th wheel trailer with little modifications. Engine and mechanical systems are just as easy or hard to access with either a van or a pickup. Too do any maintenance on a Ford F series pickup you have to pull the entire cab off the frame. In a van you pull the engine cover. Sorry for the rant.
    Danny

    Like 3

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