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Ford Econoline Celebrates 50 Years

The evolution of an American workhorse.

by on Dec.13, 2010

Celebrating 50 years, the Ford Econoline.

You’d never know it today, when more than half the new vehicles sold are classified as trucks, and therefore command proper attention from both the media and the regulators, but half a century ago, the media and the general public paid little attention to the workhorses of the roadways.

In 1955, the big volume year of automotive production in the post-WWII decade, US factories produced 9,190,875 vehicles, of which 1,259,016 or 14 percent were trucks and buses.  (In case you wondered, in that year Japanese factories turned out a total 165,000 vehicles including those classified three-wheeled,” and West Germany, 847,097.)

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The big media attention in 1959 focused on the forthcoming compact cars from the Big Three, 1960-models Ford Falcon, Chevrolet Corvair and Plymouth Valiant.

But in the summer of 1960, on the eve of the 1961 model introduction, there was a sleeper: the introduction of box-like small trucks from both Ford and Chevrolet, based on the powertrains and chassis of their 1960 compact sedans.

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