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.
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