Indianapolis 500 Legend: 1967 Ford Falcon Van

Some stories in automotive history are heartwarming and pull on your heart strings just a little bit. That is exactly the kind of story that is wrapped around this 1967 Ford Falcon Van. Originally given to “Mr. First in line” Lawrence “Larry” Bisceglia by Ford, this Falcon Van was first in line to every single Indy race from 1967 to 1985. In running and driving condition, this awesome piece of Indy race history is currently bid up to $2,650 with the reserve not met. Check out this cool van here on ebay out of Yuma, Arizona. A big shout out to reader “Rick” for the historic submission!

There is no real detail or information given about this van other than the fact that it runs and drives. But the history associated with this van and Larry Bisceglia is what is so fascinating. Larry first went to the Indy 500 in 1926, but it wasn’t until 1948 that he made his mind up to be first in line. He did not succeed in to be first in line until 1950. At that time he drove a 1933 Desoto to the track every year until 1954. He then bought a 1951 Chevrolet Panel truck that he eventually covered in race stickers. In 1958, after 8 years of being first in line, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway awarded Larry with a lifetime pass to the Indy 500 as well as a key to speedway gates. In 1967 17 years had passed of Larry be first in line. At the 1967 race he was called to the starting line where he was awarded this 1967 Ford Falcon Van. He then donated his old Chevy to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of Fame. After making it into Guinness book of records, and into Ripley’s Believe it or not, Larry continued his first in line achievement until 1986. In 1986 he fell ill and broke his 37 year first in line streak. Having been greatly missed by all who knew him so well at Indy, many offered to fly Larry to the race. Larry made it to the brickyard one last time in 1987 where he saw his last race. Mr. First in line passed December 7, 1988. Having truly loved racing and the Brickyard, Lawrence Bisceglia must have had gasoline running through his veins like all of us car enthusiasts do. One part of the story that would be fascinating to know is what happened to this van after Larry passed away? Hopefully the winner will get to find that out.

Larry’s van is still pleasantly original and shows much like it did all those years ago. The van is in Arizona, and it would appear the dry Arizona air has been good to this old van. The paint may be sun bleached, but the charm and history of this van is way to cool to paint over. If you look at both front doors you can see where each year Larry changed the years for his first in line streak. I think this would be an excellent addition to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway museum right beside his ’51 Chevy panel truck. Or it would be great to see this historic machine go to the Henry Ford Museum as Ford donated the car to begin with. What do you think should be the fate of this historic van?

 

 

Fast Finds

Comments

  1. Gunner

    This historical piece of automotive history should be next to the Chevy Panel for everyone to see, to enjoy, and to reflect on the amazing accomplishment of one man’s passion and love for everything that drinks fuel. Great story Barnfinds!

  2. Howard A Member

    Well, seems to me, if the folks at the Indy 500 ( which I don’t really care for, or the van, for that matter) had a shred of compassion, they’d buy this thing and restore it, maybe only cosmetically, and put it out front with a chain around it. I never understood the logic, of being 1st in line or attending every Cubs game, but it sure meant something to Larry. Too bad nobody in his family feels the same way. Terrible. Wonderful story, sad, typical ending.

    • Dan

      Howard, I am not sure I agree with you on the ending. This was larry’s thing, not his family’s. My dad did not foist his stuff off on me and expect me to spend my life preserving it, and I will not be doing that to my kids. Actually, it sounds like Larry had an blast while it lasted!

    • ulm210

      Howard, I am a season ticket holder for an NFL team that plays 8 home games (not counting pre-season) and you have to have a parking pass for particular lots around the stadium. This pass does not guarantee you a particular spot, just access to the lot. There are people that arrive two hours before the parking lots open just so they can have the opportunity at, what they consider, the best parking / tailgating spot. Maybe that was Larry’s logic and it just snowballed into this PR thing…

    • Jeff Staff

      I come from a long line of guilt-layers, and that’s without an emphasis on material possessions (just the normal emotional, Catholic guilt stuff). My cars are going to be the Mount Rushmore of guilt trips on my offspring. When they read my will, they won’t even care about any monetary windfall (good luck with that anyway)- the stipulations will involve a continued lifetime of care for the automobiles!

      • Dave Wright

        The problem is, you can’t save everything……they (the family or any organization) might have more important items to concentrate on. We had the same problem when my folks died last year. Had to make choices.

      • John vreeland

        If you have more cars than children, I’m Catholic, and available to do my share.

  3. CrazyGeorge CrazyGeorge

    My question would be, does the IMS or FORD even know the van is available ?
    How does one go about telling them ? If I was wealthy I’d purchase the Van and donate it but that is way beyond my means ! Do any of you have any juice with Indy or Ford ? It would be a shame to put this piece of history in a garage to sleep. The Falcon Van’s story needs to be updated and continued … Sorry to say It won’t be by me ….

  4. JW

    I wouldn’t mind owning it for the cool factor of the story BUT I’m sure the reserve is more than I would pay.

  5. DAN

    he made it to 90!

  6. Nova Scotian

    …interesting….don’t really get the first in line thing…(why?). it is an interesting piece of history I suppose. I like hearing about history and personal stories on barn finds.

  7. Pleiku Pete

    I thought that Ford called these vans Econolines…

    • Howard A Member

      Hi PP, early on, ( ’61-’63?) Ford called this the “Falcon Econoline” The Falcon part was dropped, but people still referred to them as Falcons.(See right rear door)
      http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-v5zEbjcoJZE/U4gXijii55I/AAAAAAAAKQs/P0dq-3Jno2Q/s1600/1963-Ford-Falcon-Econoline-Club-Wagon-2.JPG

      • Bill McCoskey

        The Falcon Econoline is one of the vehicles I used for my trick questions. Those questions I love to ask the guys who claim to know everything about American cars & trucks:

        In what version did the Ford Falcon come standard with a solid front axle and leaf springs all around?

        The answer is the Falcon Econoline Van.

        In 30+ years of asking this question, only a couple of people knew the answer was related to the Econoline.

        Like 1
      • Mike Warden

        My Falcon van was a 67, I think the final year for that body type. “Was called a Falcon Club Wagon.”

  8. MattD

    Check out the white-walls and the Cragars in the black and white! That brings back memories from the 70’s, we considered the white-walls with the mag wheels a sin.

  9. Jeff Day

    I have passed this along to my employer whose name is synonymous with IMS. Hopefully he will have an interest and want to do something with this piece of history.

    • Ohio Rick

      Keep us posted please.

    • Brian Staff

      This is excellent to hear. Thank you Jeff Day!

  10. BronzeGiant

    This is one vehicle that I believe should be left as found. And it should be displayed right beside his Panel truck at the IMS Museum. What a great exhibit that would be.

  11. jim k

    I sure hope this goes to the track. I would love to show up at the track in it. :)

  12. RT

    I’d love to see the writers use spell check and review their posts for grammar and content. The posts would read so much better.

  13. Plmbrdon

    Great story, has history and patina. Take care of the mechanicals and leave the rest unchanged. Restoring the body would be a sin!!

  14. glenn merithew

    I agree with some of you as to weather ford or indy know about this vehicle is any ones guess. I think it should be cleaned up and displayed at indy next to larrys panel van. you have to remember that in the 60s ford gave away a lot of vehicals so they probably don’t know that it is still around. i agree that you cant save everything but this is one that should be saved.

  15. Mike_B_SVT

    eBay listing was ended because the item is no longer available!

    Hopefully it will turn up at either Indy or Ford.

  16. Bryan Cohn

    The van has been floating around for a couple years. IMS passed on it at least two years ago. They cannot take every car offered and you’d be surprised at what they are both offered and accept.

    I’ve read about Larry, google him and you can too. He was a life long bachelor if memory serves me, a railroad worker who always wore his railroad hat. There are some amazing photos out on the web if Larry and the greats of Indy through the years.

    The van was found in a junk yard I recall by a Indy 500 fan who knew what it was upon sight. I think it sold on eBay a year ago or at least was for sale.

    Please excuse any errors, the above is from memory of reading, photos etc from the last couple years.

  17. Bruce Fischer

    My 1st car was a 1966 ford extended van like that. It sat for sale back in the late 70s for sale for over a year because it had a 100,000 miles on it and back then that was too many mile for a lot of people. I bought it for $100.I lived in N.J. back then and had it for many years. I even drove it down to Key West and back. Good times .Bruce.

  18. Jaygryph

    Odd, I don’t see anyone crying about the patina on this one…

  19. Mike Warden

    Had this exact same van, a 67 Falcon window van with the extra long body! Loved it! Drove it all over the USA in the 80’s. Scheib-painted metallic turquoise and it was a beauty with white letter tires. Wish I appreciated its rarity before I got rid of it! If it’s still out there…it has a “Super Van” logo on the passenger side because the Falcon logo was missing and I found a Supervan logo that fit. And zebra painted sun visors. Hey it was the 80’s! White vinyl interior all around, 2 white vinyl bench seats, white steering wheel with a chrome horn ring that said Falcon. Original color was probably that famous Ford metallic copper color…paint was dry and dusty and falling off when I bought it but very little rust. Sold it in the Cincinnati area about 1988 or so to Kroner Towing. Would LOVE to see it again! Mike Warden

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