Very Rare Early RV: Ford Econoline Travel Wagon

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While the seller thinks this is a TurtleTop conversion, it’s actually something different. This beautiful restovivor RV based on a 1966 Ford Econoline bus is officially called a Ford Econoline Travel Wagon, and was converted by the Travel Equipment Corporation of Elkhart, Indiana. This particular one is located in North Royalton, Ohio and is up for sale here on eBay, where the buy it now is $24,900 but lower offers are encouraged.

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Look closely at the top of the van in this picture–this is the travel mode, where the top is retracted for driving. This is really a cool design! And while I’m sure this is a repaint, if you look at it in the video loaded by the seller the RV has both very shiny and straight body.

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image courtesy curbsideclassic.com

There’s a great article about these conversions here at curbsideclassic.com where they are characterized as the “American Westfalia”. What’s even more special about this one is that it’s on the extended version of the Econoline that was intended for bus use, so there’s even more length for the sleeping portion than the one in the brochure above.

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As you can see, the interior is completely beautiful. It’s obvious that a lot of time and effort have been spent on making the inside of this RV spotless and beautiful. I don’t know how comfortable those seats will actually be, but they look nice, don’t they? Currently, the transmission is a three speed, but someone planned higher cruising speeds and a rebuilt three speed plus overdrive transmission is included with the sale if you want to install it.

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And here is the stove, refrigerator and sink–vintage 60’s decor. We’re told everything works great!

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Moving to the rear, we have the seating, dining, and when folded flat the sleeping arrangements. Again, so 1960’s!

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Finally, under the “hood” between the seats, we have the inline 6 powerplant. Take a look at the end of the video to see how smooth an engine can actually be–if you didn’t realize the fan was turning you wouldn’t even know it was running!

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Finally, I couldn’t let this post end without showing you the underside. Yes, I’m sure it wasn’t originally black. But look at the condition everything is in. Here’s one that sold in 2007 on the smaller wheelbase that wasn’t as nice that still brought $18,700! With this having been a California vehicle and as rust free as it is, I can’t imagine a better trip than to fly in after winning this auction and driving it home! How about you?

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Comments

  1. George

    My 66 Turtle Top Sat out too many years and the rust was winning. Nobody wanted it so I sold it to a pick-a-part junk yard last year for $350.

    Like 1
    • Bobsmyuncle

      Wow… That is hard to believe. You must be remotely located?

    • Chebby

      What a bummer. I think everyone with a van is trying to ride the VW bubble now, but yours looked pretty nice.

  2. Matt

    Wow. I had an identical one to yours. I searched for replacement turtle top emblems and the cool “turtle tail” extension. Funky Junk Farms bought mine for 7000. They rent to the movie industry so hope to see it someday on the silver screen.

  3. boxdin

    I think this is the first converted camper van sold thru any dealer network. Here’s another brochure. I first saw one of these at my local Ford dealer in 1963 and I remember it was odd in that it had 4 speed on the tree !! Soon after this time Open Road began selling the chassis mount camper on GMC and some Ford chassis thru authorized dealers. Open Road and Travel Wagon were real trend setters.

    • Matt Tritt

      Nope. VW holds that distiction and was the driving force (so to speak) for the development of similar models in the US and eslewhere. 1952 is the year that the first V-Dub campers were sold. I had the oldest in the US, a 52 with knee-action schocks.

      Like 1
      • George

        Knee action should, now there is a terminology I haven’t heard in many moons.
        Having grown up in SoCal the Vdub busses were the joke of the mountain roads. If you came upon one you found the first place to pull over and eat lunch. If you were lucky it’d made it to the top by the time you got there.

        Like 1
  4. FordSon

    This was NOT a trend setter but, it was a FoMoCo version response. This Econoline version was Ford’s attempt to compete with VW’s numerous Type II versions which were extremely popular at the time. The Ford COEconoline (Cab Over Engine Econoline), in panel and wagon versions were a staple in the U.S. as service vehicles within the U.S.G. and the Bell Telephone System, etc.

  5. Steve

    Seems well worth it for a part of ford cab over history. Very rare indeed

  6. Matt Tritt

    George – Quite. My 52 was so slow on steep grades even model A’s would leave us in the dust. My 58 was faster, but not much. My Diesel 109 Land Rover was also pretty irritating for anyone behind us – even with the overdrive optimal gear ranges – not to mention the locomotive-like black cloud it produced. Not sure why I gravitate to slow and boxy vehicles when there were some very quick cars in my dad’s fleet!

  7. Ralph Terhune

    My maternal grandfather had one of these in the 60’s. He traded a 1959 Ford Galaxie 4 door sedan in on it. His was a 1961 model. Had the 170 6 cylinder engine with the 3 on the tree. I remember that the name on the door said ‘ Econoline Travel Wagon 200’. Color was a light tan. I always sat on the engine cover anytime my dad and grandpa went anywhere together. When we went camping, I slept in the turtle top. When my grandfather passed away in 1970, dad inherited it as my grandmother didn’t drive. When I went to vocational school to learn the auto body trade, I took the van with me to refurbish the body. I painted it the original color and dad ended up removing the original 13 inch wheels and tires and installed 14’s and ’65 Mustang wheel covers. We kept it another couple of years and dad sold it around 1975. Wonderful memories!!!

  8. Dennis Kimbrell

    I had a 1961 model, An old Sears repair van…..Just painted over the Sears logo and drove the heck out of it…Pure HIPPY VAN only one seat in front with a cast out love seat given to me by my friends mother, she called it my pu##% wagon… and it was….every Sunday would drive it down to the local park where the kids hung out and partied to live music and or radio’s Frisbies fountains to jump in and a lot of p## Smoking, and Tripping away a sunny afternoon… VOLKER PARK KANSAS,CITY, MISSOURI…..

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