Forward Controls: Ford or Dodge?

Forward Control Comparo

These “forward control” pickups were produced in the early to mid 1960’s as alternatives to the traditional body-on-frame pickups. I’m not sure I’d want to be in one in a head-on collision but I’m guessing the visibility is terrific! The Ford is located in San Bernardino, California, and is offered for sale here on eBay where the buy-it-now is $3,750 but offers are being accepted. The Dodge is in Pampa, Texas and is also listed on eBay with a starting bid of $3,000 without a reserve, so both trucks are comparable price-wise. Taking a look as to which one is the better buy, the first thing I noticed was that the Dodge runs, albeit not terribly well. On the other hand, the Dodge is said to be rusty, while the Ford has one small rust-through spot, although the A100’s description is far more thorough and seems more realistic. The seller is also willing to send more pictures along of the problem areas beneath the truck. Overall, I guess this comes down to marque preference and proximity – unless one of you is familiar with both types of truck and can share that expertise? I’ve never driven one; what are they like to drive, and is there a reason to prefer one over the other?

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Comments

  1. Dennis Whittington

    The fords were so front heavy they would do “stoppies” under heavy braking. There was a recall which consisted of a weight bolted to frame near rear bumper.

  2. David Frank david Member

    In any case, you need to remember that these were vans cut down to be pickups, like the rear engined Corvair and Volkswagen. Parts are easy to find but their utility with their front engine configuration limits their utility. And remember how much fun they could be with a bit more power?

  3. Rufus

    I had a 63 Ford window van with the 6 cyl engine and 3 on the tree, back in the early 70’s. I traded a Sportster basket case heads up for it ’cause I needed a truck to haul my new race car, a RHD Mini Cooper. Worked great, OK to drive (never occurred to me I would be the first one to any head on collisions) and real EZ to maintain, to the point that I did no maintenance. We were hauling down to the AquaFestival in Austin in 75, and the truck simply quit running. My buddy started yelling at me for driving a raggedy-a$$ed hippy truck and we lifted the engine cover, opened the distributor cap, and the points had simply closed. I crawled into the back, opened my tool box and retrieved the new points, condenser and rotor that I had intended to install before we left, and completed my road-side tune up. The only reason anyone got out of the truck was for my buddy to take a leak.
    These ole trucks were a great alternative to the basic pick up truck, and offered a place to sleep out of the weather at the track.
    Have fun
    Rufus

  4. JW

    I had a 61 I believe Econoline pickup in the early 80’s my youngest son and I were going to make a wheel stander out of it but family things got in the way and it never happened, wish I had it now. The only thing I remember was the kingpins were dry when I got it and you had to be a body builder to steer it which I wasn’t, we threw some heat to them to get them to take grease and then it was fine otherwise it was trouble free. Head on collisions and no seatbelts didn’t faze us back then a bit but it was a simpler time and OH how I miss it. IMO they are both over priced in their condition because they are not heavy duty haulers they are more of a soccer mom’s garage sale hauler.

    Like 1
  5. Moparmann Member

    I would prefer the Dodge, I like the looks better…but then I am biased, as I have a Sportsman van!! Also, drivetrain swaps are easy, to drop the v-8 into mine, all that was necessary to do, was to just flip the mounting brackets; everything else was fairly simple to bolt up. :-)

  6. JW454

    My only exprience with these was a good friend had a 64′ Ford van that was called a Falcon. Yep, a van called Falcon. It was an I6 3 speed on the column. It seemd to run good but it did nose dive somewhat when you got on the brakes hard. I guess I’d take the Ford but it was a really close race.

  7. MacVaugh

    The Ford had better designed window glass, wrap around front and corners on the rear that make it much easier to back into a loading dock or a parking spot.

    • acptulsa

      Those corner windows were optional. You could get them on either the Ford or the Dodge.

  8. pontiactivist

    I myself love these. Never owned one but would like to. Have a 69 Chevy van like these in my garage now (not mine though). Had a chance to buy a dodge truck like these a few years ago. Unfortunately these rusted out really bad in the erie area thanx to road salt.

  9. shiro1303 Member

    I would take either though I’d lean towards the less rusty of the 2 my current truck is a 77 Toyota cab over with drop side bed and a 4 on the tree.

  10. phoneman91

    I drove the van version of this–a 1963 Ford Econoline van with the 170 six and three speed on the tree. I drove it for the telephone company in 1970. Easy to do a U turn in an urban environment. Easy to see forward from the driver’s seat. The engine “doghouse” made for a built in desk to allow me to complete my service orders. And it was possible to check engine oil level out of the weather–even in rain! Very short overall length. Made for a highly maneuverable truck–though somewhat under powered.

    It is a weird feeling to seat on the front wheels!

  11. Joe Howell

    Worked the summer of 1970 on the B&O railroad on a track gang. The truck we had was a Ford Econoline fitted with drop down railwheels. It was fitted with a simple latch to hold the steering wheel straight when on the tracks and a dashboard mounted hand throttle. Our section of track was a little weed line that ran through a beautiful farming valley. The tracks went thru small villages and in some places thru people’s front or back yards only spitting distance from their doors. It was really cool to cruise along on the rails at 25 mph taking in the world. One bridge was close to 1/4 mile long and 90 couple of feet above the creek valley below, driving over that bridge and looking out to the sides gave the feeling of flying. I wish I had taken pictures but I was young and it was just a job then. Now it’s a great memory along with my 68 Chevy “hippie” van :)

  12. roger

    You are missing one .The Chevy G10 van had forward engine at seats and side steer front axles just like ford econolines.
    All 3 are great vehicles and their front axles work Great in Street rods.
    Used to be a local junkyard that had these.I bought all the econolines then were buying the g10`s when I needed one,but yard suddenly closed without notice and everything was crushed.
    What a waste!!!!!
    It had cars and trucks from 1940`s-80`s

  13. Ralph Terhune

    My grandfather had a 1961 Econoline Travelwagon 200 camper with the fold up roof. I remember riding on the engine cover as a child whenever he and my dad went somewhere together and I was allowed to tag along. My dad inherited it when my grandfather passed away and I painted it when I was taking auto body classes at vocational school during my junior and senior years in high school. Color was a light beige. Dad sold it not long after that.

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