How many high school auto shop projects have you seen come out looking like this cool two-tone green and black '65 Ford Econoline pickup?

Yes, the auto shop students of Mr. Dennis Stewart's class at Cornwall Collegiate and Vocational School in Cornwall, Ontario, Canada, completed this unique Econoline in only two years. People say that students in a class are a reflection of their teacher. Well then, Mr. Stewart deserves to be "Teacher of the Year", after getting his students involved in "Project 2B Different." Each of the students should receive outstanding achievement awards for their incredible effort. While returning from the Goodguys Show in Columbus in 2006, Mr. Henderson noticed two '65 Ford Econoline COE pickup rust buckets basking in the sun near Massena, New York. He stopped just for curiosity sake. The next thing he knew he was signing pink slips and handing over $400 for both.

When the students arrived in September of '06 Mr. Henderson presented them with a major challenge. He told them they were going to build an awesome Ford Econoline wheel-standing diesel-powered pickup that would be a one-of-a-kind vehicle. Of course none of Mr. Henderson's students were even born in 1965 and you can image some of the comments uttered under their breaths. But this project was to be taken seriously and class after class worked hard to create this nice ride.

The foundation of the Econoline is a 2x4-inch boxed frame that was C-notched in the rear to allow the lowered rear end housing to clear during negative suspension travel. The front suspension uses only one leaf spring per side and is raised and lowered by a pair of Contitech 2600 lb air springs and aided by a pair of Monroe gas shocks. The rear suspension was also lowered by removing some leaf springs and inserting a pair of 2600 lb Air Ride Technologies airbags. A 10-switch control box allows the operator to oscillate the pneumatic suspension eight ways. A Morrison ladder bar setup was installed creating stability for the rear end. A set of Wilwood disc brakes with four-piston calipers and 14-inch ball milled and cross-drilled rotors were installed. A set of American Racing polished aluminum Torque Thrust II wheels sized 17x8 inches up front and 20x10 inches in the rear are wrapped with P235/50R17 front and P295/45R20 rear tires.

The real twist is the Econoline's drivetrain. How about having an '06 Ford 6.0L Power Stroke diesel power plant that produces 400 hp and 850 lb-ft of torque with a stock '06 transmission located in the bed. A special thanks goes out to Richard Gautier from St. Lawrence College for his technical support with wiring the electronics that woke up the 6.0L Power Stroke and Torqueshift transmission. To improve weight distribution, Dennis located the engine in the bed, facing rearward and ran a stock powertrain from a 4WD truck including the transfer case directing the power to the rear wheels. Sounds simple, but the transfer case drives in the opposite direction. To solve that problem Dennis used a Dana 60 front differential from a Ford F-350 pickup, stripping it to bare bones. The Dana 60 differential was then flipped upside down and the inside of the case was reworked for proper oiling, as well as installing new axle tubes and 4.30:1 gears. New Currie axles were cut to the correct length with large Ford splines, which allowed for the large Wilwood Disc Brakes. The whole redesign and reconstruction worked out great.

It took two '65 Econoline E-100 pickup bodies to create one good one. The top was not chopped, but the body was sectioned 4 inches. All of the door and tailgate handles were removed and shaved smooth. The factory opening doors were transformed to open and close in a suicide manner. The center section of the tailgate inner and outer skin was removed and replaced with a louvered outer skin to continue the airflow through the bed. The stock grille and headlight bezels were rechromed. The rear taillights were borrowed from a '65 Ford Falcon then frenched into the rear. The fuel filler was located underneath the rear bed cover. All of the body seams were welded and then ground smooth. The side window wings were removed and replaced with one-piece windows. Because the front and rear bumpers would not be used, the body holes were patched, filled, welded, and ground smooth.

After the entire body surface was massaged, a couple of coats of DuPont sanding primer were laid down. The body was block-sanded over and over to eliminate any imperfections. The body was delivered to Gary's Auto Body in Finch, Ontario, Canada, where it was wiped down with a tack cloth and Eastwood Prep Solution to remove any grease or impurities from the surface. DuPont Waterborne base paints were mixed black and green. A climate controlled paint booth was used due to the sensitive waterborne paint. The individual green and black mixtures were poured into the pot of the gravity fed spray gun and carefully applied. After color sanding the entire painted surface, the paint was then buried in multiple coats of clear.

The interior was made a lot roomier by eliminating the factory engine doghouse. A custom bench seat replaced the factory bucket seats and were mounted over the front wheelwells. The bench seat was covered in a color matching green and black vinyl. Somehow a pair of green seatbelts were found and installed. To eliminate the majority of road and engine noise Dynamat was laid covering the floor, back cab wall, and inner doors. Black Mercedes carpet covers the entire cab floor with custom vinyl covers. Custom-made door panels were constructed from pressboard, and then covered with two-tone gray vinyl.

The tunes are produced by an Eclipse head unit that was imbedded in the dash and sends signals to a Kicker ZX Series amp. A huge custom fiberglass speaker enclosure was made by the students. It is located behind the bench seat and the enclosure houses two Kicker 10-inch Comp subwoofers and two Kicker KS series 6x9-inch mids. Mounted under the factory dash is a 17-inch Brada Prima flat screen that translates and displays the engines vital signs through Dakota Digital gauges displayed on the monitor.

We're still shaking our heads knowing that this ex-COE Ford pickup was created by shop students at Cornwall Collegiate and Vocational School, in Cornwall, Ontario, Canada. The craftsmanship is very professional. Each one of the students that contributed to the project should be commended for their efforts. Dennis Henderson should also be commended for his visionary mind, fabricating, teaching, and motivational skills to lead the students through the project.

  • «
  • |
  • 1
  • |
  • 2
  • |
  • 3
  • |
  • View Full Article