Vintage Lettering: 1962 Ford “Rudy’s Laundry” Van

The E-Series Ford van is the company’s second-longest-running nameplate, only outdone by the F-Series line of trucks. The Econoline (for cargo) and Club Wagon (for people) were introduced in 1961 as replacements for the F-Series van and the model line is now in its fourth generation, though the Ford Transit stole some of the thunder beginning in 2015. This ’62 Econoline was once used for delivering dry cleaned garments as per the graphics that have survived all these years. From Calgary, Alberta (Canada), this Ford is available here on eBay where the bidding has reached $3,150 and there is a reserve to be met.

Inspired by the rear-engine Chevy Corvair and VW Transporter vans, the first-generation Econoline’s would run through 1967. With a forward-control layout (i.e., engine between the front seats and behind the front axle), it would lead to other competitors to follow, such as Dodge with its A100. The Econoline was initially based on the Ford Falcon compact. In contrast to the Falcon, the Econoline was fitted with a solid front axle and a solid rear axle suspension with leaf springs for all four wheels.

As the story goes, the seller bought this van in Arizona and brought it to Canada. Its previous owner had found it on a farm, but it was painted blue with house paint at the time. After some scrubbing and sanding, graphics for Rudy’s Dry Cleaners were found below. At one time, someone had cut a hole in the driver’s side of the van for a small window which was later replaced by a piece of metal where the “Rudy’s” name is now. There is more to the story regarding this van and the seller says he’ll impart those details to the buyer.

Over the years that the seller has owned it, he’s done quite a bit of work to the van, though it’s been stored for the last two. The list of repairs includes:

  • Replacing both front and rear bumpers which were missing
  • Reworking some of the wiring and fixing non-working gauges
  • Redoing the brakes, including the master cylinder and cables
  • Other odds and ends so that the 170 cubic inch I-6 and 3-speed manual run okay now

The new owner will have to deal with some rust, rekey all the locks on the doors, tend to a recent oil leak that has developed, and replace the burlap sacks being used for seat covers. While far from perfect, the van is cool with its throwback patina and graphics and should draw attention wherever it goes. If it were mine, I’d do as little as possible to make it reliable and drive it.

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Comments

  1. Sam Shive

    Going to keep track of this one, Had a 68 Chevy and have been looking for a Ford for a long time.

  2. Steve Clinton

    Can somebody check and see if my laundry is in the back?

    Like 2
    • Rick

      No ticky, no washy.

      Like 5
    • stu

      Nope…full of tools and lumber…keep looking

  3. ERIK

    I want this! Too bad timing and location is not conducive to my pursuing it. But to be honest when is it ever the right time or located in one’s neighborhood?

    Like 2
  4. David Taylor

    I was stationed at Fort Wainwright AK and bought one for $50. It was dark blue. I spent a lot of time conditioning, repairing, etc. I even built a bed in back and custom upholstered the seats, dash, and door panels. Sanded the entire thing and painted the whole thing in red primer – never did put finish paint. Also installed a small oval window on diver side.
    Now for the BAD. Replaced the speedo several times cause it kept breaking. Location of the engine and radiator – between the seats – caused overheating all the time. Often had to stop and pour water ( room temp) over the rad. In the mountains of CA it really overheated. When I raised the engine cover to do the water thing, the rad cap exploded and I was scalded. Spent more than a month in SF hospital.
    Despite all that, I have very good memories of “happenings” in that van.

    Like 4
  5. Eric B

    “If it were mine, I’d do as little as possible to make it reliable and drive it.”

    Precisely.

    I’m a bit confused, though. Replaced both bumpers? They look original to the van, so are they new and were made to look old or they’re the originals and were just off of the van when purchased?

    Like 1
  6. Autoworker

    My brother owned one, it was green and Bondo. Three speed on the column, it had terrible bushings in the linkage that hung up all the time. Dad called it the “Sin Buggy”. LOL

    Like 1
  7. steve

    My grandfather had one of the 1st ones which was badged “Falcon” on the doors. I THINK it had the even SMALLER engine which was the 144(?). It was clean when he bought it as it had been the “ambulance” at the local dirt raceway. Made that underwhelming engine even more of a puzzle. Yes I would run hot on a hot day with a load and a hill. Its biggest trick was to catch on fire every once in a while. WE ended up with a 67 “Heavy Duty” super van which was the same body with extra length tacked on the back and beefed up suspension. Had the 150HP 240ci engine. Much better vehicle. We also learned that some of the overheating was caused by people removing the big panel from under the front floor which directed the air from the grille to the radiator. Folks removed to fix something and then found it too much trouble to put back with reasoning being “You don’t NEED that!” Fixed a few overheating issues on some by getting a panel to put back in place. Oh gee, you DO need that! Also saw one in the salvage yard where the dash and visors were festooned with Ford stickers warning that the vehicle was a FOUR SPEED on the column. The only one I’d even seen or heard of. A 4 speed would have improved the vehicle quite a bit

  8. David Taylor

    Eric B – – – read carefully. He obtained the bumpers off two such vans at a wrecking yard. Did nothing but clean them and bolt them on. Pleased that the “new” bumpers appeared to be a good match for the van.

    Like 1
  9. Guggie 13

    My Dad had several of these Ford Econoline vans for his Heating / plumbing business everyone had 6cyl 3 speed , very dependable vehicles most went way over 100k, the one i had had the 240 6 cyl, that one had 180k on it when we sold it ,and some guy drove it for 3 years after that . rust and shift linkage biggest problems that I recall.

  10. Bill Hall

    Back in the day my Dad was a U Haul dealer. There was one we made a huge effort to keep for ourselves. A short Econoline with a 240 six. With no weight this was quite a fast piece. Manual trans of course. It even made a Boy Scout camping trip.

    Like 1
  11. chrlsful

    like this 1st gen when under nice paint & interior w/240 (i6 big block). I guess the 300 would B alright too (the gasser thats a diesel) as its a mil mi motor. B g r e a t w/’8dor’ or ‘no dor’, just for the finite factor (or specialized use). No bumper up frnt, step’n tow in back? Cagers or steelies w/beaut rings, 31X16 BFG AT KO (not KO2)?
    Chebby hada nicer 1 earlier (’64/6) that they made same time as greenbriar (mid engine rear van – 61/5) for 2 yrs. Imagine dat ! Neato ! If U think so look @ my write up 4 red ’68 galaxie…

  12. vintagehotrods

    Here’s a pic of the original business in Sierra Vista, AZ, which is just south of Huachuca City and east of Tombstone, which is just north of the US-Mexico border. In the picture Rudy’s Dry Cleaning, the last rock house and Garden Canyon Service Station in the late 1950’s. The railroad is in the background.

    https://s3.amazonaws.com/pastperfectonline/images/museum_595/013/20093348.jpg

    Rudy’s Cleaners was located on North Garden Avenue just north of Fry Boulevard was owned and operated by Rudy Steffen, who became the first Mayor of Sierra Vista. Huachuca Shuttle & Taxi is in business there now. The stone building seen to the left of the cleaners is the last remaining rock building from that era and is currently the home of Sierra Vista’s Buddhist Temple.

    My Dad had an Econoline and a Dodge A-100 van in the 60’s. I was always kind of unnerved sitting in the front seat and I don’t remember wearing seat belts in it either. If anything happened you knew you would be the first one at the scene of the accident when you went through that big windshield!

    Like 4
  13. angliagt angliagt Member

    Anyone remember the Pacific Bell Phone vans?
    They were a Pea Green color with Black/Yellow reflective
    chevrons on the back doors.
    A friend of mine bought one of those in the early ’70’s
    when they were sold as surplus equipment for cheap.He painted
    it a deep Red,& added custom wheels.When he got married,a few
    of us filled the back with helium-filled balloons.
    He wasn’t too happy with us,as they were headed to Tahoe
    on their Honeymoon,They higher up in elevation,the more balloons
    kept popping.
    FUN TIMES!

    Like 1
  14. Sam61

    Ok, the “fake/retro” patina/business stuff is a bit overdone. I like the van, they are cool.

    I, if it were mine, would re-letter a Tydee-Dydee Diaper Service with a load of stinky diapers hanging from a storkes beak.

    Another over used phrase…first on the scene at your own accident. I remember my dad renting a Ford U-haul like the subject van.

    • vintagehotrods

      There is nothing that’s “fake/retro” about this one, If you read any of the story you’ll see it’s the real deal. The picture I posted shows that the business was real and that’s where it came from.

  15. TBAU Member

    🎶 Bruce Berry was a working man he used to load that Econoline van.🎶
    🎶A sparkle was in his eye but his life was in his hands.🎶

  16. vintagehotrods

    Wow! It was bid up to $7100 and still didn’t meet the reserve. The seller should have taken it!

  17. FordFixer Member

    I worked for the Navajo Tribe Headstart program in Nazalini, Arizona in 1968-9. We had one, a windows and long wheelbase for a school bus. It worked ok ( ditto the bad shift linkage ) but muddy roads were hard to navigate. We even did a road trip with preschoolers to Flagstaff and the Grand Canyon. Tough old trucks.

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