Martin's 1969 Shorty Club Wagon Chateau

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MartinGTE
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Martin's 1969 Shorty Club Wagon Chateau

Postby MartinGTE » November 30th, 2015, 1:32 pm

Get Shorty!

Story of 'my' van as appeared in November 2015 Edition of Auto Motor Klassiek!

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Ford E230 Club Wagon Chateau

James Becker, the first owner of the beautiful Ford Club Wagon shown on these pages, takes delivery of the vehicle on April 28, 1969. A check of US$ 3,165.20 and the keys of an old AMC Rambler with a resale value of $ 996.50 are handed in. This is Becker’s first Ford and in the beginning, he is not so happy with his purchase…. In particular the lack of any kind of service from his dealer. Despite of this wrong start, he eventually becomes devoted to his luxury Club Wagon Chateau. A very particular car that you cherish and never want to part with….

This is clear from the extensive correspondence that Becker exchanges with the Ford Motor Company. For example, some options that were ordered and paid, are missing. Also the soundproofing is not complete. Several of the aluminium trims are mounted higgledy-piggledy and the car itself is askew too. At a later stage rust on the sills is subject of heated discussion. The dealer is not willing to meet Mr Becker. So he decides to work himself in order to remedy the shortcomings. Apparently it is impossible to match Ford Brittany Blue, forcing the E230 to go through life in modest two-tone. In a subsequent letter we read that Mr Becker is not just an "old nag": "The Chateau Club Wagon itself, appearance, visibility, room, comfort and riding characteristics (after wheel alignment) are very good!" We also know that in 1974 the vehicle is equipped with 4 new tires, because the tire stickers are neatly stuck in the log. These and many other papers are part of the impressive archive that has been built over the years and which now, like the car, are owned by Martin Wildeboer, Rotterdam.

The passenger versions of the Ford Econoline are already less common in their era. The scarcity is increasing more and more as we go from Standard to Custom to Chateau version. Logically, we find the 'top trim package' almost exclusively on the long (123.5 "wheelbase) 12-seater Club Wagon and not on the here displayed five to eight-person version (105.5" wheelbase). It makes this 'Shorty window van' so rare that even the specialists on the Econoline forum did not know of its existence. That, and the entire documented history, down to the smallest detail, really make this van extraordinary.

Autistic traits

Between 1987 and 2011, the odometer in the dashboard of the Club Wagon rises with only a few 1000 miles. Despite his age, James continues to maintain his van maximally. In 2009 he dies and in the two years that follow, the E230 just catches dust in an old barn. Eventually, 19-year-old cousin Ryan succeeds in buying the car for $ 2,000 from his old, mean and miserly aunt. The deal includes a large number of boxes full with NOS-parts that you can almost build a second Club Wagon Chateau with! Fuel tank, radiator, lighting, trim, window rubbers: all brand new! It is clear that uncle was hardly immune from slightly autistic traits. It takes Ryan barely a struggle to revive the still well-maintained E230. During a first visit to a local 'all Ford show' -to the frustration of the ubiquitous polishing extremists- the Club Wagon, unwashed, complete with parking dent, immediately wins a price!

"I will never sell this van '

Meanwhile, Martin is looking for an oldtimer car that can hold his large family of six! A friend shows him an advertisement on Dutch Marktplaats: a V8 E100 Econoline Van with side windows. It is a lot tougher and broader than a previously considered VW T2 Van. Martin decides to try and find out more about these vans and performs thorough research. On the aforementioned Econoline forum he finds a post from one Ryan stating "I will never sell this Van '. Martin is impressed, decides that this is the one he is looking for and sends the owner a private message. Response is not long: "I will never sell this van! '. The search for a comparable van starts, but with Ryan’s Club Wagon as a reference, sourcing a 'shorty window van' is equivalent to finding a needle in a haystack. In Germany, one turns up for sale. It is a bare Econoline 302 V8, but is equipped with the needed side windows. With blood, sweat and tears, this former fire brigade van could be turned into the ultimate camper and maybe you cannot be too picky in this situation... Unfortunately, the asking price combined with imperfections and dubious history is too high. And so Martin continues his search...

American style breakfast

Martin sends another message to Ryan, who is now convinced that this is a classic Internet scam. But… Ryan decides to play along. The 'swindler' from Holland is persistent and multiple emails go back and forth. When asked for detailed pictures, Ryan dumps 190 close-up views from virtually all angles of the van, along with a very spicy asking price. Here in Rotterdam Martin is very happy with all the footage and the enthusiasm rises photo after photo. Even the price does not fall far outside the budget. Ryan in Syracuse New York thinks the fuss will stop here. Martin on the other side of the ocean books his flight to the US! Equipped with a big jetlag Martin sits in his hotel waiting for the seller. But Ryan does not turn up and at first does not answer his phone. Martin starts sweating… will the trip be for nothing? But in the end, he gets a very surprised Ryan on the phone, who still is not intending to really sell his Club Wagon. Martin is picked up by Ryan and his father in a Chevy Chevelle SS396 from 1970. , As it is still very early, the first stop is Stella's Diner for a full American style breakfast. It turns out to be the right environment and while enjoying pancakes with bacon and weak coffee they get acquainted. There’s chemistry between the car enthusiasts. Senior knows how to convince junior about the more than reasonable bid that Martin puts on the table. Then it's time for a test drive, with Ryan pointing out cons instead of pros in order to change Martin's mind. In vain, because after a couple of meters, Martin is not intending to hand over the wheel again... The two tonner features a whisper-quiet 302 V8 with automatic transmission and has no power brakes or power steering. Nevertheless it is a great experience which fully meets the high expectations. Ultimately, the deal is closed, Ryan literally has to blink away a tear. But he realizes that the Club Wagon is in good hands and he can use the money for the down payment on his first house.

Happy as a kid, the next morning Martin U-Haules his new property to New York harbour. There it will be loaded into a container bound for Rotterdam. A few weeks later the car lands on Dutch soil. After a few adjustments to the lights the van passes the test at the DMV with flying colors. After some preventive maintenance, including the distribution gear and water pump, in May of this year the family travels by bus to Blåvand in Denmark. Followed by another holiday trip in the summer back and forth to Switzerland. Both trips go smoothly and after the first 5000 km's the whole family is crazy about daddies new toy: "We will never sell this van!"

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Last edited by MartinGTE on October 8th, 2017, 5:36 am, edited 6 times in total.
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1969 Shorty Club Wagon Chateau

yogreasygramma
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Re: 1969 Shorty Club Wagon Chateau

Postby yogreasygramma » November 30th, 2015, 3:18 pm

Show-off!!! :lol:

Awesome near-perfect original shorty Chateau! Congrats, my friend!

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Re: 1969 Shorty Club Wagon Chateau

Postby MartinGTE » November 30th, 2015, 4:29 pm

Haha: absolutely Mike!! Time you translate that Polish article for us too!! :mrgreen:

yogreasygramma wrote:Show-off!!! :lol:
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Re: 1969 Shorty Club Wagon Chateau

Postby MartinGTE » January 17th, 2016, 8:30 am

Well... here's a description of another 'learning curve':

Already on the way back from Switserland, I noticed sometimes a little 'hesitation' while accelerating. But pushing the throttle down a bit more, it would vanish & it got us home safely. In the weeks after that, it would do that same 'thing' when the engine was cold, but it would disappear almost completely when warm.

Then, somewhere in November, while taking the youngest 2 kids out for a drive to the supermarket, it became more & more difficult to rev it at all & when I pulled over, the engine stalled. Took a few tries to get it running again & the would start but die pretty soon after that. Turned around & about 800metres/half a mile from home, it would not move at all. Engine would start, but stop when try to rev it or put it in gear. So walked the kids home & towed the van home in the evening.

It looked that the carb would get enough petrol, the float-chamber being full & when pressing down the accelerator pedal, petrol could be seen in the carb. And it would start, difficult, run for a few seconds, then die.

Tom hinted to either a problem with the ignition, or the main-jets in the carb being blocked. As I had renewed about everything on the ignition side before the trip to Switserland (sparks, cables, complete new distributor with rotor/cap/points, cables, coil), I put my attention to the carb. Took it apart completely this time & one of the main jets underneath the float chamber seemed a bit dirty. Also put in a new 'valve' that sits underneath there too. And... same result!! Grrrrrr.

So yesterday, I decided to check the ignition again. In an earlier stage, I had already checked for spark-ignition on 2 sparks. Seemed OK then, although I seemed to remember from -long time ago- a larger spark from one of my Opels [and not holding them well; being sparked myself! :) ].

I still have pertronix electronic ignition 'lying around', so I took the new coil & tried that: same result... Hmmm.
Then I decided to put in another new set of rotor + cap. The ones I put in that came with the distributor were brand new about 5 months ago. (I seemed to have forgotten to distrust new parts....) and when I took the rotor/cap out of my 'sparebox', I also noticed a brandnew condenser.... Ahaaaaaaaa; biggest 'issue' with Fiat 500 engines too, was my first thought.

So I went to unscrew to 'old' brandnew condenser to realize.... the nut of its cable being LOOOOOOOOSE!!!! Must admit... felt a bit stupid!
Put in the new one anyway & finally did first 2016 drive! YES!!

Happy again!
Martin
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1969 Shorty Club Wagon Chateau

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Re: Martin's 1969 Shorty Club Wagon Chateau

Postby MartinGTE » April 8th, 2016, 8:25 am

In order to create another backlink to our forum (for better Google ranking), I 'google sited' my van:

https://sites.google.com/site/1969short ... clubwagon/

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Re: Martin's 1969 Shorty Club Wagon Chateau

Postby MartinGTE » May 20th, 2016, 7:49 am

Another Story From the Road...


So last year was the first trip to Denmark 'with the van' & for our May holiday we decided to do that again!

2 Weeks before leaving, I still had 'an issue' with the ignition. Decided to put back in the original one & indeed, the van drove GOOD again. But... leaving very early Saturday-morning, the van started shaking on the highway. It would accelerate fine, but keeping it steady at 60mph/100kmh was NO fun.

So at one of the nearest exits, we left the motorway, pulled the enginecover & tried to alter the timing a bit, but with no succes. So we already kind of decided to drive back home & drive 2 cars to Denmark (820km one way...), but while we were re-installing the cover, Yvon -sitting on the passenger seat- noticed 'something sparking'... It was the ignition lead to spark nr 1! :? Before re-installing the distributor, I had torn the lead of the metal part that sits on the plug. Was pretty sure I had it repaired well. NOT.
Van drove a LOT better, so we decided to continue. At the next stop, still early morning, just before the German border, we got 1 new ignition lead (... all are < 1 year old) and with that, mileage even went up further!

VERY happy to have the interval-wiper-switch-upgrade installed (THANKS again Marlon!), as it drizzled quite a bit while driving through Germany. Traffic jams in Hamburg again (allways...) and another delay at the Danish border. Quite a long drive and kids got some extra sleep! Arriving in Blaavand, the sun already came out & it stayed like that the whole week!

One week later, on the way back while Yvon was driving, we heard a LOUD noice hitting the underside of the van. Couldn't see anything lying on the road, as we were just overtaking another car. Van drove well, so decided to continue to the next exit & combine check with quick meal @ Macdo. While inspecting the front/side/underside, I finally looked at the tire... and it was missing quite some rubber! :shock: Putting on the (inflated before we left...) sparetire only took the time that the others ordered our meals.

Always nice to arrive back home safely!!

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Last edited by MartinGTE on May 21st, 2016, 12:44 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Martin's 1969 Shorty Club Wagon Chateau

Postby yogreasygramma » May 20th, 2016, 3:23 pm

Thanks for another wonderful story, Martin!! I'm glad that everything went well despite some mishaps. :) It's so excellent seeing that these fine old relics are quite capable of driving long distances reliably. This sort of brings me back to my youth as a teenage passenger in our family's E100 all over Europe.

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Re: Martin's 1969 Shorty Club Wagon Chateau

Postby Tom S » May 23rd, 2016, 6:04 pm

yogreasygramma wrote:Thanks for another wonderful story, Martin!!
But did he post this sad story? Nooo!
Martins model 5.jpg


Martins model 8.jpg

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Re: Martin's 1969 Shorty Club Wagon Chateau

Postby MartinGTE » May 24th, 2016, 4:05 am

Tom S wrote:
yogreasygramma wrote:Thanks for another wonderful story, Martin!!
But did he post this sad story? Nooo!


Haha, the kids are doing just fine Tom! But our neighbour wishes they were a bit less loud... :mrgreen:

The cut up van is still waiting for another long winter though...

From here....
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.... still in the same state:
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Re: Martin's 1969 Shorty Club Wagon Chateau

Postby MartinGTE » May 25th, 2016, 8:08 am

Tom S wrote:
yogreasygramma wrote:Thanks for another wonderful story, Martin!!
But did he post this sad story? Nooo!


And what about your story on that secret GF Tom? You never got around telling us that either... Google came up with some history!

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