Rare Beast? - Ford E-350 Cabriolet for 5th Wheel - Diesel Forum - TheDieselStop.com
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E-Series Vans Technical discussion of topics related to vans powered by any of the Navistar engines. This covers a broad number of years, but there isn't enough demand to split it any further.

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Old 01-27-2003, 04:39 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Rare Beast? - Ford E-350 Cabriolet for 5th Wheel

I thought I would share with the board a not-so-common beast. The link below is a picture of my father's 1986 Ford E-350 6.9L Cabriolet. The front is a standard Ford Van, the middle is like an RV with a seat that can sit SIX adults across or make into a bed and the back is like a dully pickup truck that has a 5th Wheel that can be removed.

It drives well but needed some more kick, so we added a Turbo. We are thinking about joining the three fuel tanks into one system instead of the two switches to select the between the tanks. (I should have fully closed the front hood for the picture, dern it.)

Question, would this vehicle be of interest at a diesel gathering or is it fairly common sight?

-Charley
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Old 01-27-2003, 06:07 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Re: Rare Beast? - Ford E-350 Cabriolet for 5th Wheel

cwhite,
Thats a very interesting ride your father got there [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/eek.gif[/img]!.I've only have seen two other vans like that so far in my lifetime.It looks like a very rare speciman.Did your father special order it or is it a custom job?IMHO yes yes yes yes to your question no doubt about it!!!!
It looks like your father has the best of both worlds.

TONY
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Old 01-29-2003, 10:23 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Re: Rare Beast? - Ford E-350 Cabriolet for 5th Wheel

Hey Tony,

I was made by a company in Constantine MI. On a road trip through Illinois my father saw it for sale in the front yard of a large farm. After returning to California he "HAD TO HAVE IT" syndrome and made a trip back there to get it. We picked it up and with a car carrier brought towed the car back to California. It did ok, but going up the grade out of Denver is when we got our first exposure to going slow, and that was only with a car in tow. As "gas heads" we were a bit upset. So we started looking at the turbo option. It has made it better, but it is still hard to get into the "slow down" mind set.

-Charley
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Old 01-29-2003, 04:19 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Re: Rare Beast? - Ford E-350 Cabriolet for 5th Wheel

It is a very odd beast, i have seen one or two around at one time or another. It would be pretty sweet if they made one like that with the new body style, but dang.. california to illinois twice! That's alotta traveling in a short amount of time. I drove up to illinois once to see a friend and that was basically the farthest i have ever traveled.
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Old 01-30-2003, 01:26 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Re: Rare Beast? - Ford E-350 Cabriolet for 5th Wheel

i know 2 people that have had them, and they both really liked them, but are both now in new rigs now. they were both bought used in southern california, and both were used to pull horse trailers. i haven't seen any newer ones but there in a lot in Banning that usually has a few, both were bought there.
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Old 02-04-2003, 12:26 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Re: Rare Beast? - Ford E-350 Cabriolet for 5th Wheel

I seen one for the first time last summer also but it had the 460 gasser and he was haulin' about a 30' 5'ver. It looked in great shape and belonged to a fiddle player, Ivan Hicks from the Maritimes and he was doing a cross Canada tour. I believe they do a tour every other year and they are on the road for a couple months. The band practiced at the rec hall of a campground, it brought back memories of my grandfather who loved all those fiddle reels and jigs. I'm sure your dad's would garner a lot of attention at any get-together.
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Old 02-05-2003, 08:38 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Re: Rare Beast? - Ford E-350 Cabriolet for 5th Wheel

That would be a very welcoming vehicle at a diesel gathering. In fact you can park next to me since we both have unusual vehicles. Mine is unusual in the sense that even though there seen every day it is not common to see one that is owned by a private person as his daily driver.

Now if it only had stainless steel wheel liners. [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/biggrin.gif[/img] [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smokin.gif[/img]
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Old 03-26-2003, 09:36 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Re: Rare Beast? - Ford E-350 Cabriolet for 5th Wheel

Charley

Cabriolet did quite a few of these units in their day. They ended up switching to buiding extended cab & 4 door Freightliner & Top Kick tow vehicles with 5th wheel beds. The company was owned by Elmer Gingrich & family, who also owned Medtec ambulance. Most of this is trivia, but thought you may enjoy it. Cabriolet also did alot of customization work on Hummers. The bed on the truck was made next door to Cabriolet by a sister company called Custom Fabrications. AM General worked with them quite closely in the early 90's for custom projects.

Also, the family owned a company that did fibergalss work, such as 1 piece front & back ends for motorhomes. They also did the molds & roof tops for the van type ambulances Medtec made. That is where the extension on the body was done.

Cabriolet & Custom fab did quite alot of work, to the tune of $60K I believe on Arnold Scwartzeneggers first Hummer.

Several years ago, Osh Kosh Truck, and one of their divisions Pierce Fire trucks bought out the Gingrich family. As far as I know, Cabriolet closed doors at that time as the new owners were not interested in continuing that business. PM me if you need any more useless facts !!!!
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Old 06-30-2003, 10:16 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Re: Rare Beast? - Ford E-350 Cabriolet for 5th Wheel

I got real lucky and bought one of these last week. Its a 85 conversion by Centurion. All steel van body with 2 swinging side doors and a fiberglass rear cab cap. The bed is standard Ford steel one ton with fiberglass fenders. Its a 6.9 w Banks Turbo kit and I'll try to post some pics within a couple of days.
Thanks
Rick
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Old 07-01-2003, 02:28 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Re: Rare Beast? - Ford E-350 Cabriolet for 5th Wheel

Awesome information. Have always wanted one of the conversion but what I got was in second place (close enough [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/laugh.gif[/img] ) (see my sig). I would still love to have a real one, did find one nearby a couple months back but it was a gasser. Figured the conversion (to diesel of course) wasn't worth it and it was rusty anyways.
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