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When I drove my 64 there was not much heat from the engine into the cab. During the winter it would of been nice. My truck then got 13 mile pergal with 2 cracks in the block. A friend owned one in the 70's and he got around 20 mpg with it.
Its not a whole lot of fun working on the engine, compared to a car or traditional pick-up. I have found that the extra time involved in removing the four engine hatch hinge bolts and getting the entire hatch out of the way, is time well spent! I spent some time re-plumbing some heater hoses, vacuum hoses and fuel lines and was able to get the engine looking pretty decent and practical to do those looming 5000 mile tune ups and air filter oil change.
I bought some radiant insulating shielding from Lowes and glued it around the inside of the engine box and that greatly reduced heat and noise radiation from the engine. I live in central florida and dont get any breaks in the summer! The insulation did wonders, it was like driving a different van as far as noise and heat radiation.
I'm in the process of putting a pusher fan in front of the radiator that will run when the key is on. I'll be able to remove the stock fan, which really doesnt move that much air. I think that will really reduce the heat buildup under the engine box. You really notice it when the van is off, after a long run. The heat really tends to build up under there, as it has nowhere to go.
As far as fuel consumption, my van is rated at 85 horsepower at 3600 rpm (1964 170 cid), with a stock rear end (3.5:1) at 3600 rpm I'm going 70 mph and should be getting around 16.5 mpg. I'm not getting quite that. I get about that at 2500 rpm, which is around 50 mph, and that's the vans sweet spot, it falls off fast after that speed. Its more of a parade van than a highway van!
What I love about the van is the uniqueness. Not sure that's a word, but stick with me. I've driven a black '67 mustang for 10 years and currently a '54 f100, and hands down, the '64 econoline gets more looks and attention than either of those. Its a fun van to drive too, with its easy steering and unique geometry, you'll never drive a vehicle that handles quite like an old econoline. Pull up on a curb or someones bumper at a stop light with a passenger and watch them defensively pull their feet up in their lap!!
Finally, there just aint many of these old gals around anymore. The uni-body construction and their willingness to rust out, has left many of them permanently out of commission, with their sad owners parting out the salvageable bits and pieces thru online auction shops.
Its a piece of history man, buy it, love it, keep it out of the junk yard, and when you pull up to a stop light, dont be suprised when some guy gets out of the car in front of you and comes back to tell you about all of the good times he had in his old van and how much he wishes he still had it (and all of the brain cells he killed while driving around in it).
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