Thread Number: 63057  /  Tag: Other Home Products or Autos
1960s mid-engine vans...
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Post# 856358   12/12/2015 at 21:03 (1,045 days old) by cfz2882 (Belle Fourche,SD)        

...such as ford E100,dodge A100,etc.-compact forward control vans like the "mystery machine" in Scooby Doo :)Most seemed to have been consumed in DD commercial use decades ago,but some of the survivors have been restored and/or customized.The stark utilitarian simplicity of these vans is kinda cool-heater box between the footwells with blower motor sticking up,exposed wiring and pedal linkages,metal instrument cluster that pulls out after a few screws removed,and of course plenty of engine access once "doghouse"unclipped and removed :)I remember when the TV repairman came to fix our 1968 RCA console,~1976,he came in a red ~1965 E100 ford.

Post# 856379 , Reply# 1   12/12/2015 at 23:49 (1,045 days old) by dartman (Portland Oregon)        

My real dad was given a brand new 68 Dodge A100 van to drive when he worked for Hanna car wash back in the day. Rode in it many times, had a 318 in it and drove and ran quiet and smooth.
I have a 78 Dodge B200 I bought for 300 bucks with new tires and a bunch of new parts and drove it home. Not the same but pretty similar, still has most of the engine between the seats and you can adjust the timing and carb while driving it if you have a crazy buddy with you.
They were simple well built machines and are easy to work on.
The real collector item is the A100 pickup these days, cool trucks.

Post# 856427 , Reply# 2   12/13/2015 at 11:20 (1,044 days old) by sudsmaster (East of SF, West of Eden, California)        

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67 Chevy Van 108... with 283 stock V8... Great fun...





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Post# 856495 , Reply# 3   12/13/2015 at 21:08 (1,044 days old) by countryford (Phoenix, AZ)        

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In the cartoon Scooby Doo, the Mystery Machine actually had the engine in the rear. Only two vans that have had the engine in the rear. Either the Chevy Corvair van or the VW van.

I like the first generation Ford Econoline vans(the engine in between the seats and a flat nose), but I prefer the second generation (1969-1974 that had a slight nose and the engine was moved closer to the front.).

Post# 856509 , Reply# 4   12/14/2015 at 00:41 (1,044 days old) by sudsmaster (East of SF, West of Eden, California)        

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Actually it would be impossible for the original Scooby Doo van to be rear engine. That's because the rear doors are vertical, and extend from the roof to the floor bed of the van. No room there for a motor as well. The VW microbus had a horizontal half-liftgate to allow luggage to be loaded onto the shelf above the motor. Same for the Corvair "Greenbriar".


Here's a good discussion of the topic. Bearing in mind that we're discussing a cartoon car, the indications seem to be that the Mystery Machine was most based on the utility (no passenger windows) version of the late 60's Chevy Van.




Post# 856587 , Reply# 5   12/14/2015 at 16:59 (1,043 days old) by goatfarmer (South Bend, home of Champions)        

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My Dad had a 67 Chevy van, identical to that one, even the same color!

Post# 856616 , Reply# 6   12/14/2015 at 20:12 (1,043 days old) by countryford (Phoenix, AZ)        

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I've always associated the Mystery Machine with the Chevy Corvair van. Here are my reasons why. There was one episode where they actually showed the engine in the rear. That automatically disqualifies the Econoline, Dodge, and the Chevy Sportvan. Another thing is the front seat was a bench seat. Only the Corvair van and the VW van had both the rear engine and the bench seat in the front.

In the article he mentions " the Mystery Machine has a pair of vertical doors that extend to the floor of the van no room for a rear engine there." yet he fails to provide a picture to back up his claim.

Post# 856627 , Reply# 7   12/14/2015 at 21:21 (1,043 days old) by cfz2882 (Belle Fourche,SD)        
mystery machine engine

I kinda remember seeing the mystery machine engine in the rear in one episode(memory is ~35 years old)anyway,as I recall,engine was transverse and water cooled with radiator on pulley end of engine-just like the Detroit diesel in an old GMC transit bus :) once,on Youtube,watched an old(early '60s)chevy demonstration video showing advantages of the corvair rampside pickup VS the ford econoline van based pickup-mostly showing traction advantage of rear-heavy corvair and as I recall how the rear wheels of the ford would come off the ground during a panic stop with two hefty guys in the cab :) BTW nice van in reply 2 -original paint?

Post# 856717 , Reply# 8   12/15/2015 at 12:07 (1,042 days old) by nurdlinger (Tucson AZ)        
Summer of 1968...

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I worked as a flunky on a survey crew for the Wayne County (MI) Road Commission. Crews had '65 or '66 Ford Econolines of the mentioned configuration with the engine between the two front seats. Ours had an overheat problem. One day we took off the engine lid, and removed the radiator cap. Coolant gushed out in a geyser, and hit the ceiling. Cool as it was to drive, after that experience I did not think that I wanted one.

Post# 856723 , Reply# 9   12/15/2015 at 12:46 (1,042 days old) by sudsmaster (East of SF, West of Eden, California)        

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There's no mention on any web site I can find that there was an episode of Scooby Doo with a rear-engine van.


I have two authorized models of the Scooby Doo Mystery Machine van, and both show rear barn doors, not half hatch doors. No room for a rear engine with those kinds of doors. Also, there are no air slots that a rear engine design would require.


But seriously folks, we're talking about an imaginary vehicle created by cartoonists who may or may not have had a specific real world van in mind. The general consensus seems to be the Chevy Van (not the Sportvan, which has passenger windows) is the closest. But the Mystery Van mixes cues from different makers: One piece windshield, spare tire up front, vertical split full height rear doors, apparent center seating (I know several people who as kids used to sit on the dog house), squared off wheel wells, small round rear tail lights, no front or rear grills, etc etc etc.


The live action series also featured vans of different makes, such as from Chevy and Ford. But no VW's or Corvair/Greebriars.

Post# 856724 , Reply# 10   12/15/2015 at 12:53 (1,042 days old) by sudsmaster (East of SF, West of Eden, California)        
Van in Reply #2

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No, it's not the original color. Close, though. As far as I can tell, the original color was a slightly darker semi-metallic green. It shows up in various spots if you know where to look, but the repaint was pretty thorough, interior and exterior.


It's fun to drive but kind of punishing. Solid front axle with leaf springs... you're sitting right over the wheels, so there's no leveraging of the impacts. Previous owner had the stock springs flattened and replaced the stock front seats with Recaro brand, which probably have less cushion/bounce than the originals. Cést la vie. I use the van for home improvement runs, and also have taken it to a few car shows/meets. Eventually when I get around to taking a real vacation I'd like to use it for camping.

Post# 856847 , Reply# 11   12/16/2015 at 02:06 (1,042 days old) by tolivac (greenville nc)        

The moral is here----maybe cartoonists should design cars-esp trucks???Seen them design flexible planes and outboard motors!

Post# 856918 , Reply# 12   12/16/2015 at 12:39 (1,041 days old) by countryford (Phoenix, AZ)        

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I'll start watching my DVD of Scooby Doo and find the episode I was talking about. Also it shows a full bench seat. Not an engine cover in between the seats.

Post# 856927 , Reply# 13   12/16/2015 at 14:23 (1,041 days old) by sudsmaster (East of SF, West of Eden, California)        

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I have a pretty full set of Scooby Doo DVD's. I can't stand the show, but it came in a nice model of the van, that's why I got it. Please let me know the Season/Episode with the van you describe.


I've heard about the bench seat observation... I suppose you could claim a thin seat could be put over the dog house. But again, there's really no proof that the cartoon van is supposed to be any particular brand/make/model. It seems to be a unique design that combines features from different models. Later on, I understand the live action movies had vans with hood noses and motors in the front. Sacrilege! LOL...



Post# 856984 , Reply# 14   12/16/2015 at 21:18 (1,041 days old) by cfz2882 (Belle Fourche,SD)        
cartoon/fantasy vehicle powertrain

I remember a futuristic toy pickup I had as a kid in the '70s-possibly made by Tonka~late '60s,it was kind of a cab-over style and there was no space for an engine which disappointed me some as I was interested in engines by then :)
Looked under one of those Kei class Japanese micro trucks once and it had a tiny inline four laid over on it's side under the bed,right behind the cab :)

Post# 857757 , Reply# 15   12/21/2015 at 18:26 (1,036 days old) by sudsmaster (East of SF, West of Eden, California)        

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I think the Smart cars also have their engines under the floor.


I have seen those little micro pickups in Japan. They are real slugs.


Post# 857765 , Reply# 16   12/21/2015 at 19:21 (1,036 days old) by cfz2882 (Belle Fourche,SD)        
japanese micro trucks

there are quite a few Japanese micro trucks in use locally-registered as ATVs,they are not supposed to be used on the highway,though I have seen them on side roads moving at~60 mph-tiny engine sounded like it was at 7000 rpm or more.some of these trucks are quite fancy-even having AC :)On the other end of the size scale of under floor engines,was a ~1950 bus I examined once:forget the Mfg.of the bus,but it had a quite large gasoline inline six on it's side under the floor about in the middle of the bus-through a grille on the side of the bus two big finned ignition coils could be seen along with a pair of oilbath air cleaners and a long belt to the fan pulling air through side-mounted radiator.A spec plate on the dash had a rating of 200hp(probably developed at ~2500 RPM :)the Twin carbs no doubt really sucked the gas to move this~10-12 ton vintage bus along at speed...

Post# 857779 , Reply# 17   12/21/2015 at 21:57 (1,036 days old) by sudsmaster (East of SF, West of Eden, California)        

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When I traveled to rural Japan on business I was warned by a departing co-worker that a common sight would be one of those micro trucks stopped in the middle of the highway, with the driver and his passenger (usually a farm wife) getting out and looking basically lost. I did see one like that once, but going in the opposite direction. I didn't stop to ask (wouldn't have been able to communicate too well, anyway). Most of the time I'd see them tooling along at a rather sedate speed.


Today I went to a local Costco and saw a pickup in the parking lot of similar dimensions, but it was an all-electric three wheel "Zap!" car. They are kind of cute.


Post# 857894 , Reply# 18   12/22/2015 at 16:15 (1,035 days old) by nurdlinger (Tucson AZ)        

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Could this be the bus you described? "Fageol Twin Coach"

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Post# 857908 , Reply# 19   12/22/2015 at 18:28 (1,035 days old) by cfz2882 (Belle Fourche,SD)        

possibly,but the twin coach bus does seem longer-after writing reply 16,I looked around online and closest bus to description Was Gillig buses:factory in Hayward,CA.,they were in business 1940-82 and in earlier years,made buses with a 590 cubic inch Hall Scott six on it's side under the floor.

Post# 857936 , Reply# 20   12/22/2015 at 20:49 (1,035 days old) by cfz2882 (Belle Fourche,SD)        
hall scott engines

poking around further,discovered Hall Scott also made a monster 779 cubic inch gasoline inline six for mounting on side under buses-rated for 240 HP at 2500 RPM.Hall Scott engines were made in Berkely,CA.1910-1960,so both engine and body of the earlier Gillig buses were made in California :)

Post# 858138 , Reply# 21   12/24/2015 at 09:17 (1,033 days old) by sudsmaster (East of SF, West of Eden, California)        

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Gillig is still in business in Hayward, CA, making buses at this very moment... but probably none with the motors stashed under the passenger floor...


Post# 858182 , Reply# 22   12/24/2015 at 15:01 (1,033 days old) by cfz2882 (Belle Fourche,SD)        

cool that Gillig is still making buses-I thought they had stopped after 1982,but that was just the mid-engine versions that were discontinued I discovered after closer investigation :)Glad there is a company still making transit buses in the U.S. in 2015...

Post# 859526 , Reply# 23   1/1/2016 at 20:25 (1,025 days old) by sudsmaster (East of SF, West of Eden, California)        

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According to my web searches, Gillig is one of two North American bus companies that account for the vast majority of transit buses sold today in the USA. The other one is a Canadian firm the name of which escapes me. New Flyer something.



This post was last edited 01/02/2016 at 05:42
Post# 863130 , Reply# 24   1/20/2016 at 18:57 (1,006 days old) by cfz2882 (Belle Fourche,SD)        
Supervan up for auction

Seen George Barris "Supervan"is going to auction soon-based on a dodge A100,was built in 1966 as a futuristic people mover,then dusted off and updated a little once the custom van craze kicked in ~mid-'70s and was featured in a couple movies.I have a 1976 custom van magazine that has a small article on this van :)

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