FBI Surveillance Van: 1991 Ford Econoline E250 HD

If I had more time in my schedule, I would love to allocate a few minutes each week to scanning government auctions for vehicles like these. This is a very clean 1991 Ford E250 HD Econoline van that previously did duty as an official FBI surveillance vehicle. This is the stuff that dreams are made of for anyone who wants to create a Halloween maze this year complete with real-life props that depict movie scenes where innocent civilians were targeted by government agencies. The imagination runs wild with how you can use this, if not for actual surveillance activities. Find the Econoline with under 30,000 original miles listed here at Chicago Motors Inc. for $9,995.

So take away the history as an official FBI vehicle and you’re left with a very clean Econoline that can be used for the next few decades with just basic upkeep. No rust to speak of and it seems highly likely this one went into storage once retired and used very sparingly since. In fact, I can’t even really imagine it seeing much of any use at all over the last 10 years as it would have been incredibly noticeable to see a van like this parked on your street – I mean, if you’re the type of person to be under surveillance, wouldn’t you immediately know something was up if this was at the end of your driveway? If it were mine, I’d make sure the four wheels on the ground matched the steel wheel mounted as the spare – just looks way tougher.

The interior remains in excellent condition and is surprisingly well-appointed for a government vehicle. Apparently, if you’re going to be spending hours and days in a van, you should be comfortable. I’m just surprised to see what looks like a “deluxe”-style trim with the fake wood in the dash and the non-base model upholstery with armrests on the captain’s chairs. Whoever used this for detective work clearly took care of it, as it presents very well inside and out. Fun fact: if you Google the VIN number, you can see this dealer or someone prior to them nabbed this minty Econoline for just over $4,000 out of a GSA auction in Missouri – good on them for spotting this incredible survivor out of the pages of government excess.

The seller doesn’t include much information about how this Econoline is outfitted, but it’s clear that the surveillance requirements demanded that Ford construct this Econoline under very specific terms for the government. I can’t make heads or tails out of what I’m seeing in here, but again, you have to love the bench seat which I’m sure was used for hours of sitting with headphones on and a wand in the agent’s hand for transmission purposes. This is a great artifact of our country’s domestic intelligence efforts, and certainly the kind of vehicle that will draw a crowd at enthusiast gatherings and haunted houses alike. Would you pay $10K for a real deal FBI surveillance van? Thanks to Barn Finds reader Otto M. for the find.


  1. Bluetec320 Bluetec320 Member

    Definitely got the “Candy Van” theme going, lol. It is cool, but IMO, only worth the 4K they paid for it, and certainly not 10K. Those dang greedy flippers, hopefully they get stuck with it!

    Like 40
  2. Stevieg Member

    I agree, $4,000 is a fair price for this tin box. I would want to know what engine it has. I would hope for the inline 6 myself.
    If it were priced reasonably, I would be interested in it. Not at this price.

    Like 17
    • leiniedude leiniedude Member

      Happy to see you back! Take care, Mike.

      Like 3
      • Stevieg Member

        Thank you Mike! Great to be back! I really missed the camaraderie of this website. There are some great people here, along with one or two schmucks lol.

        Like 10
  3. Big_Fun Member

    I also ran thr VIN and found some pictures of the van during it’s working days…

    Like 87
    • jnard90 jnard90 Member

      Well done sir.

      Like 12
    • Dave

      I keep seeing “FBI Surveillance Van 13” on my WiFi list. It’s an open router, maybe I should connect to it?

      Like 10
  4. Big_Fun Member

    …and the other picture.

    Like 58
    • Howard A Member

      My 1st thought,,,good one.

      Like 9
    • jnard90 jnard90 Member

      Very well done…

      Like 5
  5. Hoss

    You’ll never get the coffee smell out !!!! lol

    Like 13
  6. That 80's Guy The Tower

    You could totally sell speakers out of that van!

    Like 11
  7. Jim in FL

    If you could have picked it up the 4K, it would have been a good candidate for the vanlife trend. It’s about the right size, low mileage and the interior probably is already sound and temperature insulated. Just tear out the surveillance and build a camp interior. Would make a cool build. I guess I need to start looking at auctions.

    Like 11
  8. Will

    I would like to see an hour meter on it. It must have at least a decade of idling.

    Like 18
    • Dan

      I bought a 2007 Chevy 2500 gasser with 50k miles for $12k back in 2015. I thought it was a steal, but didn’t do any vin checks or the like until a while after purchase. It was a fleet truck, and the hour meter read over 4k hours of runtime.

      It did not last much past 100k miles. I think I was at 115k when I traded in.

      Like 5
  9. qmmq

    10k is way high, even in this market. I only got 6k for a 1993 Chevy G20 Rockport Convesion 2yrs ago. My van had a 350, no rust, no interior stains, dual coil AC, and 56k on the odometer. It was a low top version also.
    Daughter got her driver’s license, so….Van went and honda accord appears. Blasted

    Like 2
  10. qmmq

    Correction, Rockwood. Blasted auto type.

  11. bill tebbutt

    Too spendy, and sunburnt paint. But, straight, well cared for otherwise. It would make a great race car hauler with that 5.8 litre V8, as long as the trailer wasn’t too heavy. I actually really like this.


    Like 3
  12. Dave

    Same instrument cluster as the 1977 F150 I had.

    Like 5
    • nlpnt

      Indeed and the woodgrain isn’t surprising if it’s a late-build ’91, the last year before a full reskin, and they were using up parts on hand. If there were woodtone but no non-woodtone dashes they would NOT order more from the supplier, Uncle Sam would get free fake wood. Same with the side moldings but not the wheelarch trim that usually went with them.

      Like 2
  13. Bill D

    “4chan Party Van”

    Like 3
  14. Russell

    Reminds me of the van they wisked me away in under witness protection. Still can’t get used to my new name.

    Like 6
    • Steveo

      Hey, hi Mike. Fancy meeting you here. We were all wondering where you went off to.

      Like 1
  15. MarveH

    I spent many hours in the back of vans exactly like this watching other people have a good time. I know these things inside and out and the smell is burnt In my brain.
    There were only two main companies that made these and the conversion plus van cost very close to $100K in 1990’s money. They had an ice system to cool the interior that only reminded you of cooler days, and a heating system that exhausted out the side rendering it useless unless you want your cover blown. Also had a periscope on the top for photography that almost no one used.
    Most of the time we had magnetic signs and ladder racks we put on them to make them blend in a little.
    Good days and some harrowing times.

    Like 7
    • Steveo

      Mine had little video cameras in the roof rack uprights and an extension with the port-a-potty behind a curtain. The separate interior locking door was a comfort.

      Like 1
    • Carlos

      Been there done that. I also had my own when I went private.

  16. Steve Clinton

    Binoculars and walkie-talkies are optional.

  17. cmarv

    I’m a licensed used car dealer . As far as I know any vehicle that was used for any Federal Law Enforcement cannot be sold to the public . I attend a GTB sale once a month at a local dealer only auto auction . GTB is the agency that sells vehicles used in Fed. Law Enforcement , you sign a paper stating the vehicle purchased was a L.E. vehicle , it’s as-is and may have frame damage or an altered frame . I have purchased many interesting vehicles there . I have bought B4C Camaro’s , SSP Mustangs , 9C1 Caprices , several black 3/4 ton Suburban’s and 2 similar low mile surveillance vans and a gutted pusher Tiffin motorhome that was a mobile command unit , there are many run of the mill cars too. I would say a dealer bought it for $4k . Sorry for the long post .

    Like 3
  18. RichardinMaine

    Are those hatches in the floor to storage compartments or are they man ways?

    Like 2
    • Bill McCoskey Bill McCoskey Member

      Small hatch is where you load it with ice, and the ice is used to cool down the back area when you can’t run the engine for A/C. As someone mentioned earlier, it was better than nothing.

      The large hatch is for a set of deep cycle 12 volt batteries to operate various electronic equipment.

      Like 1
  19. ErnieSC

    At Cmarv.

    Sorry, but that’s incorrect about needing to be a Dealer to buy a Vehicle formerly used by any LE Agency.

    Like 1
    • cmarv

      I didn’t say “any” I said federal as in FBI , CIA , Secret Service etc. sold through The Department of Homeland Security .

  20. Frank

    We had a late 80s conversation van and I think what you’re seeing here is Ford’s standard conversion van order. Woodgrain dash, power front windows, automatic transmission and cruise control. This is the way Ford sold vans to conversion companies, be it to turn it into a motor home, a party van, or what this one was used for.

  21. WayneS

    Go to to the site listed. Lot more stuff equipment than one would think. But $10K nah! $6k would be closer. Would make a great camper with the 4 house batteries and some solar panels on top of a full roof rack.

    Like 2
  22. Farmerdude1

    More like a 1981!

  23. Bhowe Member

    While growing up my dad was a serviceman for our local gas utility company and every few years he was issued one just like this. For the early years they were orange but after the mid 80s tan exactly like this one then white.

    My father just passed away a few weeks ago and seeing this find sure brings back memories.

  24. Don Leblanc

    I had a very similar beige E250, and I remember it got lousy gas mileage due to the fact it had no overdrive. The interior was trimmed out exactly the same but no captains chairs. It Was fun to drive and haul stuff for your friends
    but, in the end I traded it in on a more economical car.

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