What do You Call a Siren That's Fat and Ugly? Quadravan, Apparently

1978 ford quadravan 4x4 for sale
I have a problem with negative absolutes. “It’s impossible.” “It’s worthless.” “There’s no way you could…” My immediate response? “Is that a challenge?!“. Nothing makes me happier than rescuing something from the scrap bin to extract a bit more utility from it for free.
With all that background, you can imagine what this ’78 Quadravan that’s dropped to $295 is doing to me.

It’s got a sweet heavy-duty drivetrain consisting of a 460ci V8, C6 automatic, NP205, HP Dana 44 front and Dana 60 rear axle. Apparently it comes with a “full chassis donor vehicle” in addition to what’s here? All that’s worth the asking price as a drivetrain donor alone, let alone the scrap value of the remainder. Of course, you’ll need to trailer it home on a big-ass trailer behind a big-ass truck.
quadravan interior
Aside from the few hundred spent on renting/borrowing and fuel before it’s even in your driveway lowering property values, why so cheap? The reasons are numerous. Secondarily, it’s been sitting “since [the seller] drove it down from the Sierras” in an unspecified decade. The interior’s 1978 custom van grade shag and fake wood. The body’s rough and has unspecified amounts of rust. Lastly, California hates this rig: it’s got $1500 in back registration fees due and when you do register it, that 460 better have all the malaise-era emissions controls in place.
Rather than just whine about the government oppression, we find workarounds. Ford hasn’t significantly changed the Econoline chassis since 1975 and we’ve got no need for the current shaggy, rusty, purple-ish body. Instead, we’ll swap that running gear under a more modern example. Picking one from the endless supply of emissions-testing-exempt diesel E350s, Ambulances or short busses means no one’s the wiser when we swap the de-malaised 460 (or preferably, find a way to adapt the Powerstroke and 4R100 to a transfer case).

[take an intermission now while I plow through three dozen tabs of Craigslist searches, looking at Powerstroke-to-C6 adapters and Quadravan front suspension design]
So obviously this is the perfect siren of a project: a Too Cheap to Pass Up™ price, great potential to “just swap it over” to a platform-mate and an obvious target to try to equal for a fraction of the price. All those upsides to tempt into an endless hell of accommodating model year updates, weird aftermarket parts and possibly even needing to buy a hauler to support your hauler project.
Anyway, it’d be a bummer to see this thing in a junkyard, so maybe someone in NorCal has a small pile of bills a big yard?
1978 Ford Quadravan for $295 – SF Bay Craigslist

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  1. mad_science Avatar

    Can’t not comment to suggest grabbing this screaming bargain while we’re at it:

    1. Tanshanomi Avatar

      Because everything is better with HD 4×4 underpinnings.

  2. Batshitbox Avatar

    Pickup truck bed liner inside of a van… I’ll have to remember that trick. Shag carpeted gun racks? Why not, I say?

    1. mdharrell Avatar

      The seller is calling it shag but really it looks more like sculptured carpet. My guess is that it was upgraded in the ’80s.

  3. BigRedCaveTroll Avatar

    That price is worth it just for the rear axle and transfer case.

  4. JeffreyDuddles Avatar

    I recently picked up an old van. It’s a 1995 with a 5.8L gas engine and 56K miles. Bare metal in the back just waiting for my camper conversion. https://goo.gl/photos/JRKnsiHsatrit2ko6

    1. mad_science Avatar

      With 2 kids, I’d love to have a van that’s got windows on both sides in the middle, but all steel in the way-back for piling gear and/or racks to the roof.
      Also, nice use of Google Photos shared albums. They’re getting closer and closer to having a useful interface there.

      1. JeffreyDuddles Avatar

        I’ve decided to keep it a two seater. Mostly solo camping plus some times with my grandson or a buddy. First step will be insulation and paneling then some bunks and cabinets. Here are some Ideas I’ve collected from the web for inspiration: https://goo.gl/photos/oEeCs9M8UwePjhtb7

  5. dukeisduke Avatar

    “Lastly, California hates this rig: it’s got $1500 in back registration fees due and when you do register it, that 460 better have all the malaise-era emissions controls in place.”
    $1500 in back registration fees? LOL, what a scam.

    1. mad_science Avatar

      That’s about as high as they get before it ends up “out of the system”.
      Also, I’m curious what would happen if it were registered out of state for a few months, then brought back into CA with a “clean” Washington reg and title.

      1. OttoNobedder Avatar

        CA DMV is on to that trick..It stays in the Database as Delinquent Fees(and they never forget) .. Best to take it out of state. or…and Ive done this before: If you know a friendly Junkyard, they can Junk it out(turn in the papers/Notice of Acquisition/wait 30 days and sell it to you) Then you proceed with the “Revived Salvage” routine that involves Brake and Light inspection/Smog check/Verification of VIN by CHP. and. youre. done. It will forever have “salvage” on the Title, but no great loss on this vehicle.

  6. karonetwentyc Avatar

    Snag it for the axles – that high-pinion 44 alone is worth more than they’re asking for the entire van.

    1. Batshitbox Avatar

      Even without the axle shafts?

      1. karonetwentyc Avatar

        Yep. That’s not necessarily going to bother someone building a rig; chances are they would have swapped in chromoly (or similar) shafts anyway.
        A few years back I got a hell of a deal on an XJ Cherokee Dana 44 rear axle this way – it was basically just the diff and tubes. The plan had been to do a rear disc conversion and regear to suit larger tyres as part of the build, so getting it essentially empty was perfectly fine.

  7. Batshitbox Avatar

    I don’t think it includes a “full chassis donor vehicle”, I think it is being sold as a parts truck. “Full Chassis Parts Vehicle (no title!!)
    Things I love about the ad…
    “Only 118,770 Miles (works out to less than 4,000 miles a year)” No, it works out to 118,770 miles on a nearly 40 year old truck.
    “Ran when parked.”and, ” Bring a trailer.” are rapidly becoming internet catch phrases… I bet this seller is also a car blog commentator.
    “It’s Hard to Find a complete 4×4 Van this cheap” and, “No front Axle Shafts, someone borrowed and never returned.” Well, there’s something about missing front axles that exclude this truck from both the ‘complete’ and ‘4WD’ categories.

    1. mad_science Avatar

      Based on this:
      “Keys Missing, no, it’s not stolen. I never put van in my name. I have previous owners pink slip. I have paperwork from him saying he sold it to me. ”
      I think he has a title. I think the frame next to it in the shots is the “full chassis donor vehicle”.

  8. Van_Sarockin Avatar

    I had an itch for a 4×4 van for a while. But most of them have been used hard, till they’re used up. And all their drivetrain is expensive, heavy and rare. Not to mention the thirsty engine in this one. That chassis next to it looks like a trailer frame, and not a E. What I know for certain is that no sane or sober human wants to contemplate getting this vehicle registered and inspected in California.

  9. boxdin Avatar

    In 1978 any vehicle w a GVW over 6100 lbs had zero emissions equip from the factory. That limit went to 8500 in 1979.

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