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Discussion Starter #1
Ok friends, I think I may go old school in my van adventure for now. I really like the Transit but with the looming 2020 refresh, I may just wait a couple years.

In the meantime, I am looking at 1997 or older Ford E350's with the 7.3L.

Why 1997 or older you may ask? Well, being a resident of the great Republic of California, diesel cars 1997 or older never ever and forever need to be smog checked!

I call that winning like Charlie Sheen. The problem is that I know this little fact and so does every other sophisticated diesel buyer out there, so these rigs are hard to come by.

But I have my monies at the ready. When one pops up, I will strike like the keyboard warrior that I am!
 

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... I really like the Transit but with the looming 2020 refresh, I may just wait a couple years. ...
I dunno 'bout that strategy... my experience is that 3-4 years into a "generation" is the sweet spot for a model. The major bugs have been worked out, you have the "fresh" look for a couple of years, and with every new iteration comes its own set of bugs to swat. But, then, you seem focused on having a diesel and I understand the 3.2 is end-of-life, so more power to you... so to speak.

Good luck with your search for a diesel E-van. I'm actually a little surprised CA didn't make resale illegal, similar to their outright ban of commercial diesels. I'm glad I wasn't a fleet owner.
 

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and also like Charlie sheen "Winning" means driving an unsafe , by comparison, highly inefficient and polluting. Funny how anyone who attempts to redefine a word is almost always the exact opposite of the original definition.
 

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I think it is up to you.

For me, I'd be much happier with a 2018 Transit and slowly build it up over in the next two years, and enjoy trouble-free road trips for some years to come

If I found a 1997 E350, I'd spend two years tearing everything apart and replacing wheel bearings, diff seals, transmission rebuild, etc. When I was done, I would have a new reliable vehicle for years to come. Then I'd start on the conversion process.

Regardless things are never complete, but more a state of progress.

There is a Chinese proverb "It is later than you think."
 

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Come on down to Texas and get one of those dry-free E-350s from one of our local salvage yards. Yes, that is where most of those diesel models end up as when they start having problems, they become body parts vehicles. You might find one of the chassis cab versions with the RV body that was used for a few years and now it is just sitting around and becoming a stationary trailer home.
 

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Get a 2018 Ford Transit on a 24 or 36 month lease and by the time the lease is up, the 2020 Transit information will be out and you can turn in the 2018 and lease or buy a 2020 model. You would enjoy the time with the 2018 and know for sure what you might want as far as model and equipment on the upgraded model. Word is it may come as a hybrid and/or a electric powered vehicle.
 

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and also like Charlie sheen "Winning" means driving an unsafe , by comparison, highly inefficient and polluting. Funny how anyone who attempts to redefine a word is almost always the exact opposite of the original definition.
Interesting philosophy. Are you aware that there are 5.6 MILLION diesel trucks (tractor trailers) registered in the USA? It's a safe assumption that at least half of them are pre emissions and most guys will pay big money to get one since it's the only way to make a living (without the DEF/DPF guvment regs eating up all their profits and keeping the trucks in the shop).

I wouldn't call a 7.3 all that inefficient or a polluter. I would call Charlie Sheen an idiot. Glad to take any opportunity to work that in. The rest of that great family must be so proud.

OP, I think the sweet spot would be 96 or 97. New enough to have OBDII. I'd really say 97 only, come to think of it. You certainly don't want to go older than 92 or you get really lousy everything (suspension, brakes, old square body, etc.) but 92-96 have some pretty severe suspension limitations too. I've had a few of them. They don't have nearly the turning radius or stability of the 97 up.

If looking for a later diesel why not a Chevy Duramax? Keep in mind I have no idea what inane antics it takes to keep a car rolling in Kalifornia, but I can tell you I would not live there.
 

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Go to a dealer or a auto auction and try to buy a good Ford truck with the 7.3L Diesel. Even the ones with over 250,000 miles and still running bring a premium price. At the auction, we have a specialty dealer who just buys the Ford vehicles with the 7.3L Diesel and strips them down to the frame and makes the custom lifted trucks...and SELLS THEM for BIG $$$$$.
 

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Yep, they are VERY hard to find nowadays in decent shape. You'll travel far and be surprised (with rust, etc.) even still.

If you want a 7.3 diesel for camper/van duty your best bet is a late model ambulance. They are still plentiful and cheap. Pool small cities that have traded them for a Sprinter or 6.0l rig. :(
 

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I've been seeing a short schoolbus with the 7.3 on SF craigslist for the last few months, seems like a steal at $2500. Not a pre-97 I don't think.

Ways around CA smog: live in one of the many counties where smog is not required. Only the Bay Area, LA area, and Tahoe require smog test. A lot of people in the Bay Area buy a "vacation" property in Lake county and register their vehicles there, because there is no smog requirement.

And don't count on the "for ever and ever" of smog exemption. I bought my 03 Sprinter because diesels were immune to smog tests, and I assumed if they were ever added it would be that model year forward. NOPE, they went retroactive. Also, some States require that even classic cars from the 50's be smog tested. CA wouldn't want to be left behind on THAT regulation.

It's true, pre-smog commercial vehicles are in high demand, even heavy equipment. The new emission-equipped Caterpillar heavy equipment is ALWAYS broke down, and rebuilt older equipment from the 80's is often sold at a premium, more than used equipment that's only 5 years old.
 

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The 7.3 is a great motor if it's been cared for. It's freakin sweet too. But it's a lot... i mean the injectors and glow plugs are so difficult to get to. The oil pans like to rust a lot- you either have to cut the crossmember to drop that pan, and then reweld the crossmember, or remove the body and pull the motor just to swap the oil pan. A lot of the fleet 7.3s have tons and tons of idle time. Hard on deisels, they say. I had a 2000 F250 with that motor for a while. It was a major POS but Ford's take a lot of maintenance and this one didnt' get loved that much.

I looked a durmax chevy van. it was a 2008 with like 80,000 miles. it was pretty sweet! Listed for around $10k. blank slate. government vehicle.

Later that same day I drove a transit 250 twin turbo with 50k on it and bought that instead.

What you should do for sure, is make plans to ensure your financial success. Which means not leasing or making payments on a vehicle. Buy a used one cash. Best of luck in your search!!
 

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Discussion Starter #12
I like the "financial success" part. I actually told the Ford dealership a few days ago I wanted to do an all cash deal but they weren't offering any incentives for that.

Instead, the underling and his higher up in the chain of command kept steering me towards a 60 month payment plan. Plus pushed for an extended warranty at like $6K extra. And I think they outright lied to me when they said the standard for warranty is 35K. Isn't it 60K?

Anyways, after the "boss" said here's the figure we can do for you and you have 30 minutes to think about it, I checked out and left the room keys by the dresser.

I've never bought a new car and if that means not having to do with vultures and people of ill repute for the rest of my life, so be it!

2018 is gonna be a financial success year!

Good luck Y'all.
 

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I owned a 7.3 diesel van that I converted about 6 years ago and now my son owns it. I also own a 7.3 pickup truck. My van was a 98 which has the round turbo pipe rather than the flat one the 97 down has. Also has more power. When I got it, it had 117k on it and now has about 170k. In that time, I replaced the entire a/c system, water pump, various pulleys, crank sensor and so on. The cruise control quit and I'm told by a shop and the dealer, it not repairable. They are a bitch to work on. They are extremely noisy. I spent a lot to insulate it for sound, including MLV to line the doghouse and still you had to practically yell to converse over the engine noise. The handling and ride were pretty piss poor. After three trips to Mexico in it, my wife refused to ride in it any more because of the toll it took on her back. I had a set of leather power seats in it out of a suburban, but it was still pretty rough. It did go good, I had a programmer in it, (have to be careful with those because the vans don't have an inter-cooler) and towed well. Could get about 17 or 18 on the highway with a high roof, racks and surfboards on top but I would never want another one. I'd get a used 3.5 med roof and you'd have a much better version of that sized van. I have diesel transit, HR extended and love it.
 

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One purchasing "trick" from the past was to agree to be financed if they gave you discounts or free stuff (dealer-installed stuff like hitch, floor mats, radio upgrade, etc) that you couldn't get with a cash purchase, and then when the first bill comes pay it off entirely. Of course you have to make sure the contract doesn't have an "early payoff penalty". The dealership itself doesn't care if you do this, because they are not involved once you leave the lot.

The warranty has different layers. The bumper to bumper is 3 year/36k miles, the powertrain is 60k.

There is a misconception that domestic car dealerships are not high-pressure, and that foreign dealerships are. I read an article done by an investigative journalist a few years ago and he found that domestic car dealerships are greedy feeding frenzy sharks compared to Japanese and European car dealerships. It's best to know the "street price", what everyone else is paying, before you make an offer. Often there are discounts they aren't telling you about, they apply them to the sale without you knowing, and pocket it themselves. If you not paying at least 10% less than sticker price, you're getting ripped off; or at least not getting the best deal they can offer or that another dealership would offer.

I paid about $26k for a new 148 medium roof cargo with full windows, limited slip and 3.7
 

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...the "boss" said here's the figure we can do for you and you have 30 minutes to think about it...
A classic sign of a bad deal (in any arena) is that it has a short time limit, it indicates that they know if you spend more than 30 minutes (or a day, or whatever) to think about it you will realize it is not a good deal. >:D
 

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Ways around CA smog: live in one of the many counties where smog is not required. Only the Bay Area, LA area, and Tahoe require smog test. A lot of people in the Bay Area buy a "vacation" property in Lake county and register their vehicles there, because there is no smog requirement.
I live in Ca. and have not had to smog a vehicle in last 20 years. Smog requirements are based on ZIP codes. Bought a undeveloped 5 acres and registered the vehicles in that area. Later built the house on the property. The Bay Area Smog district border is on our fence line so we are physically inside the district but our ZIP code is outside the district.

Before the property purchase I had a 67 Alfa Romeo that always failed the smog test so had to go to a referee every two years. The smog tester refused to put his sensor in the tail pipe because he was afraid of damaging the test machine. Problem solved with the change in ZIP code.
 

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... Before the property purchase I had a 67 Alfa Romeo that always failed the smog test so had to go to a referee every two years. ...
Alfa used Webers like most of the Italians, right? A slight re-jetting would make 'em pass without screwing-up performance. I got pretty adept at Webers on some exotics, including one setup with four sync'ed 2V carbs on a V8, which I would tune by ear. I pulled off all the add-on pollution crap and still got it to pass with the sniffer. Unfortunately they changed the rules and required the inspectors to verify presence of original equipment state-wide, so I had to get rid of it. Very sad day.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Yes, I know about the counties in California that don't require smogging. Problem is my work ties my physically to the more urban areas, hence the lookout for a pre-1998 diesel rig. That way, I only have to deal with the DMV registration once a year and be done with it.

It's never a pleasant experience taking my car to have smogged. It's up there with a visit to the post office or DMV.

They quoted me $35K out the door price for a short wheelbase, low roof with the 3.5 Ecoboost. Bare care, no windows, not any other add ons I could see. And they've been calling me everyday. From different departments. I can expect another call tomorrow.
 

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If you decide you want to order a 2018 Transit, Matt Ford can help you with the order and give you a price quote upfront. No pressure...just help you build a Transit that will work for your needs.
 

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Alfa used Webers like most of the Italians, right? A slight re-jetting would make 'em pass without screwing-up performance. I got pretty adept at Webers on some exotics, including one setup with four sync'ed 2V carbs on a V8, which I would tune by ear. I pulled off all the add-on pollution crap and still got it to pass with the sniffer. Unfortunately they changed the rules and required the inspectors to verify presence of original equipment state-wide, so I had to get rid of it. Very sad day.
I have owned 6 Alfa's. The 67 Duetto and the 65 Super 4 door had Webers and the earlier ones I think had two barrel Solex's. Sold last Alfa which was the Duetto in 2002. Best Alfa was a 63 Sprint coupe which I sure wish I had now.

First Alfa was a 59 Sprint coupe that had a carburetor housing made in two parts. Unfortunately the joint was below the butterfly valve so when screws would loosen from vibration it let air in so mixture became lean and the valves would burn. Fixed that with a hammer to the screw threads before reassembling the carburetor halves. Before Lock Tight was available or I did not know its existence.

All of this was in the days when engines were simple and could be repaired by an inept DIY mechanic.
 
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