The E-series was Ford's claim to fame in the van industry, as it made a splash with hefty vehicles that provided power and reliability. This series offered a distinct look and overall versatility when it was introduced back in 1961. It was based on its own platform, but used many parts from the F-series pickup truck line. The E-series has gone through numerous changes and has developed such outstanding rides as the Ford E-350 Super Duty. Here's a rundown of its ever growing popularity, as it maintains the core features that have made the E-series what it is today.
1961-1967: The birth of a compact van
The first Ford E-series van was released in 1961 based on the compact Ford Falcon. It was seized to compete with Chevrolet's Corvair 95 and Volkswagen's Type 2. It was initially marketed as an 8-passenger cargo van with three rows of seats. This vehicle sported a flat nose with its engine between and behind the front seats. A 144 CID six-cylinder engine and three-speed manual transmission came with the earlier models of the E-series, but the later models came with 170 CID or 240 CID engines with either manual or automatic transmission.
1968: Second generation put on hold
The introduction of the second gen vans was delayed until the late spring of 1968. This was caused by the United Auto Workers strike. Because of this, the second generation models were marketed as 1960 models rather than 1968.
1969-1974: Breaking boundaries
Finally the second gen Ford E-series was born, and it was out to revolutionize a new van design by moving the engine to the very front of the automobile, beneath a short hood. In addition to that, this series offered a V8 engine and a "Twin I-Beam" front suspension design. In 1971, the grille was redesigned. The following year, a new model of E-series was introduced, and sliding rear doors became optional.
1975-1991: Major facelift
With a ground-up redesign and new platform, the 1975 E-series went through a number of aesthetic improvements. For one, the nose came with a proper hood, which was very similar to the nose length of today's E-series vehicles. Even the interior was redesigned as the driver's compartment was given more ergonomic controls. With its full frame, the E-series chassis could be used as cutaway vans, which provide the base for buses, ambulances, and trucks. Few changes were seen since then; but in 1979, a new front grille and square headlights were added. In 1983, the "blue oval" logo of Ford was integrated into the grille.
1992-Present: A coming of age
In 1992, the E-series was redesigned with a more aerodynamic structure. Inside the vehicle, the driver's compartment was designed to provide improved room and ergonomics. An upgrade in engine power and capabilities were other changes that the E-series went through, aside from grille, hood, and headlight changes in 2003, 2008, and 2009.