Friday, May 5, 2017

Join the Club - It's as easy as 1, 2, 3!

I was a mere 2 blocks from my new digs recently when this drab little lunchbox took a stand:
Sweet but grumpy!
This is a 1969-1970 Ford Club Wagon 123 in some comprehensive overcast color. There was a '69 Ford color named Twilight Green Poly that was pretty close but I'm thinking this was the official hue of the camp this once belonged to. It needs a driver's side mirror stat. 
That front grill guard looks ready to push anything out of the way!
This generation of Ford van was introduced in 1969 and ran through 1974. You can whittle it down to '69-'70 here because the grill has 8 horizontal openings with FORD spelled out on the top one. The '71-'74 models had a larger, separate top opening with the Ford name in big letters and 4 smaller horizontal bars in segments underneath.
The previous generation had no front hood at all; you had to go into the cab to remove the "doghouse" engine cover for maintenance and repair. The generation after this one ran all the way from '75-1991 and had a more pronounced hood for even better access. These guys look a little stubby and the hood is good for checking fluids and maybe changing a belt but that's it.
The Club Wagon was the passenger version of the venerable Econoline series. This one is outfitted with the optional 12 passenger seating.
CAMP ALERT BLUEJACKETS GUARD U.S.A. with that sweet anchor intrigued me to no end. From their alumni Facebook page:
"The Bluejackets Guard USA Corps of Naval Cadets founded in 1936 by the late Captain Frank W. Rice, was a non profit, non sectarian naval youth organization serving boys and girls aged 9 to 18, from 1936 to 2000."
Their slogan was, or is: "Semper Vigilant".
These vans are basic boxes without too many frills. By the white painted bumper we know this was a stripper model not meant for luxury or flash. There isn't too much in the way of rust which is remarkable for a lifelong Northeast ride with original paint.
The words Club Wagon are perched on a rectangle containing three barely visible diamonds. If this were the high end trim version the word CHATEAU would be in this space.
*The Club Wagon had a longer 123.5" wheelbase, hence the 123 on the emblem.
The straightforward look of the rear of this ride would continue even after the next big design change. A 1991 Ford van is almost identical from the back with its vertical taillights framing the doors.
This beast took quite a knock but she's still standing after 48 years!
In the above pic you can see that this has one of those steps that emerges from under the floor when the doors are opened. Definitely the day camp edition van.
Did someone say day camp? How about the theme from Meatballs!
A radio! That's a big deal for a base model utility vehicle.
A three on the tree transmission is located on top of the steering column, and chances are it's mated to an inline 6 cylinder engine.
Love those basic dog dish or poverty hubcaps.
Well there we have it; the last of the Bluejackets ready for service!
My first memory of a van like this was in the Bad News Bears. Here's a clip of that awesome van in a slightly cringe-worthy scene that involves a woman running away. Oh you Bears!
I've had no less than 3 Ford Econolines but all were from 1986-1989. My favorite was the one pictured below:
This is a 1988 E-150 with an inline 6 cylinder mated to a 5 speed stick shift! The gearshift was about 4 feet long mounted to the floor. I bought it with old phone company decals on it and painted the stripes you see here. Then I loaded all my worldly possessions into it and moved cross country to California, getting an astonishing 20 miles to the gallon the whole time!
Don't let the difference in looks fool you; besides the fact that the Bluejackets van is for passengers and this has square headlights they are extremely similar. If I have the need (and parking) I will happily get another. In the meantime, stay vigilant BlueJackets Club Wagon 123!

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