Postal Project: 1963 Studebaker Zip Van

I can still remember our mailman (pre-“letter carrier” era) driving a van like this 1963 Studebaker Zip Van while we were growing up. I don’t know exactly what make or model it was, but it looked exactly like this one – other than looking like new. This patina-heavy postal project can be found here on eBay in Ottawa, Kansas with an unmet opening bid of $2,600 and no reserve after that.

I’m not sure what a person would use a restored postal van for unless they were a “letter carrier” for years or belonged to a Studebaker club and wanted something different to show up to club events with. The cool and/or cute factor went out the window when the Postal Service/USPS went with the Jeep Dispatcher in the early-1970s and then it went way out the window with the Grumman LLV. Ok, I admit to really liking the Jeep Dispatcher but there’s nothing like a Zip Van, in my opinion.

This is a project as you can tell, you aren’t driving this one home. The seller says that this van is mostly original and it rolls and steers easily but shipping a non-running vehicle can be quite an upcharge if the next owner is thinking about hiring out the shipping. I think this would be a great motorcycle/scooter hauler. There’s plenty of room in the back and it would be more convenient and probably more secure than hauling them in the back of a pickup, especially if an overnight stop is involved.  Or, a camping van? There are quite a few uses but first, a person has to get it running again.

The engine should be Studebaker’s 112-hp 170 cubic-inch Skybolt-six. The engine turns over by hand but they haven’t gone any further than that in getting it running. I’m assuming that most Barn Finds readers could have it running again in no time. How would you use this cool Zip Van?

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Comments

  1. JerryDeeWrench Member

    Turn into a portable dog house. It is really cool

    4
  2. Ken Carney

    What about a really cool wheelchair van?
    As many of you may recall, I was looking
    for a wheelchair van to transport Mom’s
    scooter from store to store so that she
    could enjoy life with the rest of us. If
    memory serves, these things sat low
    enough to the ground to make loading
    a scooter quite easy. Seeing this van
    reminds me of a friend of mine whose
    family converted one for just that purpose in the mid ’70’s. Just add a lift
    or ramp at the rear door, some nice rims
    with fat grippy tires, an automatic tranny,
    and presto! instant wheelchair van! Just
    think of the fun you’ll have on cruise nights! I certainly am. Too bad I don’t have the cash or space to do it!

    8
  3. Bob C.

    Not to change the subject, but a friend of mine once had an old Jeep Dispatcher, and he used it as a hunting vehicle. He said it was ideal for that until he rolled it.

    1
  4. Mattman

    I love it. As an 80’s kid, never seen one. Curiosity factor would draw people as an ice cream truck. It’s rough but has the “find another one” factor. Wish I had the time or money!

    3
  5. Mercman

    Rolling photobooth for events and outdoor weddings. Wouldn’t even have to get it running if you have a trailer, just show up early and unload it

    2
  6. Chasman358 Member

    Too cool. Lots of potential uses for this old girl.

    5
  7. Mark in VA Beach

    How about for a step daughter that works in a rural area of Virginia for the Post Office and uses her own car?

  8. John B.

    I would like to have it but I am sure the expense to get it transported would be cost prohibitive. I purchased a 1964 Chevy school bus in 1991; it cost me over 4 times what I paid for it to get it home. I still have the bus-no one wants to buy it because it is a pain to move something this large. NEVER AGAIN!!!

    5
  9. Jon G

    What about the bicycles!?

    2
    • Rich

      I’m thinking pretty cool food truck.

  10. bigdoc Member

    It would make a great camper and be fun to drive. I’d love to have it.

    1
  11. Rube Goldberg

    If I’m not mistaken, it was these vans that helped keep Studebaker afloat in the early 60’s, because it sure wasn’t their cars. The gubment ordered thousands of these, and they were great trucks. Over the years, only a few vehicles could take the punishment of letter carriers, Jeeps, of course, AMC Eagles, Subaru Legacy’s, and these. I think before these, letter carriers used station wagons. these revolutionized the mail biz.

    1
    • Jim

      These were the LAST vehicles made by Studebaker! The government made them make these vans in a distressed area in a factory that used to make vending machines. There are stories of the lights in the factory hanging from a wire from the ceiling

      2
  12. stillrunners

    Dang the stories you guys tell – y’all should be writing fiction novels….

    • WayneC Member

      Just Google “Studebaker zip van” and it will take you to a couple of good articles, one from Old Cars Weekly” and “Concept Cars”. They are however a kick to drive, as I have driven several. Basically Studebaker half ton pickup parts and the rest flat sheet metal.

      1
  13. BronzeGiant Member

    I’d restore it bone stock in the Post Office livery of the period. Fill it full of empty envelopes in the little baskets like they used to use.

  14. Jim

    There’s a guy in Connecticut that belongs to the studebaker club that has one completely done.

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