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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Got off the phone with Unicell, makers of seamless, aerodynamic fiberglass cube van bodies, a bit ago.




The 17' body will be about a $7600 base price. Around $7400 for the 15'

Inside length is one foot shorter than outside (so the 17 foot body is 16 feet inside length), height is 86" with wheel boxes, and width is 87".


A side door with locks and stairs is another $1200




A full height, step van style walk through will not be possible with the Transit. There is a pass through to the cab that comes standard, but it's a shorty door like you see on box trucks.

Trailer towing package is undetermined.

They come in the 10,360 GVWR only

They're strong enough to support 3 people on the roof at once and come with a 5 year warranty. Repairs are made like any other fiberglass repair.

You order the chassis from the Ford dealer of your choice, they negotiate the body price and have your van shipped to Unicell in Buffalo NY, who fabricates and installs the body then ships it back to your dealer.

I priced out the van on ford.com at about $31,000. That's for the 3.7 v6, 178" wheelbase, motorhome prep package (cruise control, dual batteries, alternator, window tint, interior upgrades and more), long arm mirrors, propane gas prep, trailer wiring, and airbags. I'd guess the total price would be somewhere under $40,000.

For comparison, you can get an new E-350 with the 17' body and a side door for 35,000 at the Ford dealership here when just that chassis lists for 32,000 on the ford site (about the same as the Transit)...

I'm kinda excited about this! Wonder how much of a MPG hit it will take over the regular high roof van?

http://www.unicell.com/Portals/66/pdfs/UNICELL5%20Aerocell%20Transit%201%20proof3%20%281%29.pdf
 

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Discussion Starter #2
Forgot to mention, they have an order in with Ford for 29 diesels and 22 gassers. They haven't heard any ETA on shipping dates.

This thing could make a sweeeeet camper!
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Any idea if they are also going to do the Aerocell SWR with the Transit? I think would make a more efficient camper.

Fiberglass van bodies, van bodies
I asked and he told me no. Said with the way federal regulations work regarding GVWR vs frontal area, they'd have to make the SRW model the same size as the jumbo van, maybe slightlyyyy bigger, offering no significant benefit over just getting a van. He also said payload becomes an issue... even with the 10,360 gvwr you won't be able to load a 17' box up unless what you're carrying is light. SRW would cut another 800 pounds off of that payload.

But yea, I was a little bummed about that, too... Matter of fact, before I talked to him, the gas mileage was all by itself in my "list" of concerns... We're talking and I'm nodding my head, taking notes, liking this design more and more, UNTIL I asked him about GVWR options... I travel places where parking a vehicle over 10,000 is prohibited, so 9,999 has always been my limit when researching vehicles. That's the beauty of the big Sprinter type vans. 10,360 would make my life a lot harder, and possible more expensive if/when ticketed, during some parts of the year. I've read in numerous places online that an upfitter can certify a new vehicle with less (should be easy, right??) or more (more difficult, needs resprung and tested, etc) GVWR before it's titled, but unicell said that isn't the case and they would get in trouble. I'm also looking into just registering it as a lower GVWR since it's personal and not commercial, as most states have this option, but the door panel would still say 10,360 and I've read about people getting tickets. I would never SHOW a traffic cop my door sticker, so then it just depends if their computer pulls up my states registration info, OR if they use the VIN to pull up the MANUFACTURERS weight rating (terminology some cities purposefully use in the municipal code to close that license plate GVWR loophole ;P)

These are all pulled from their website. If you got to unicell.com and click on "aerocell" there are two drop down links labeled "Standard Equipment List" and "Optional Equipment List"... That's where they list features and have lots of photos.






And here is the ad for the E350

http://www.unicell.com/Portals/66/pdfs/Aerocell/Aerocell_Ford 12-11_Revisedv1.pdf

You won't see any Transit photos because they don't exist yet.
 

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I wonder we will see these in U-Haul fleets, i do know for sure truck rental companies will be buying these.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Hard to find a whole lot of info on these, which I THINK is a good thing! If they sucked, people would surely be ranting about em. I've read multiple accounts touting the longevity (One said his is 8 years old and could almost pass as new)

Here's one that's six years old... the fiberglass is looking better than the van itself!


And this is what the inside of a 17' box looks like. This is the flat floor version, you get an extra six inches of ceiling height if you get the wheel boxes



Beat up from being used to haul cargo, but you could imagine the possibilities....
 

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On that note, i do recall seeing MANY of them on the road which does say a lot, im sure if they were crap i wouldnt be seeing as many
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Agreed... These things are out there, and you can't find any complains. Anywhere. Not a peep.

Looks like a bargain for what would make a great platform, IMO... In my head I'm pretty set on one of these. Even been drawing up floor plans with room for 2 motorcycles, tools, and separate living quarters. >:D
 

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Agreed... These things are out there, and you can't find any complains. Anywhere. Not a peep.

Looks like a bargain for what would make a great platform, IMO... In my head I'm pretty set on one of these. Even been drawing up floor plans with room for 2 motorcycles, tools, and separate living quarters. >:D
sounds like my kinda plan :D ricky racer are we, or just like to tour? :D


although what will be the additional cost on converting the interior?
 

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This would be great as a bike van, All the motocrossers used "boxVans" to tour, before sponsors picked up the bill for a giant semi. It was the next step up from vans
The box is matched very well to the Transit cut-awaycab, looks aero

Privateer racer, "Team Transit MX"
I like the totaly flat floor, the wood in that one picture looks better than some homes
A+
what kind of bikes? (KTMs?)
I used to joke with my dirt racer buddy to buy me a boxvan for xmas

VanMan
 

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Discussion Starter #14 (Edited)
Further down the rabbit hole we go!

As I mulled over it this past week, a few things were still bugging me about the Transit. One was no full height pass through from the box to the cab.... Available on the current GM and Ford 3500 vans, but the engineers said it wouldn't be possible for the Transit. A bit of a bummer, but I could get over it.

Second:

3.7 gas motor - purportedly get's terrible fuel economy in the F150 when towing a load. The box truck would have huge frontal area and would most likely be running at gross, 100% of the time. F150 reviews also call the motor doggy with a load... Saw a lot of "absolutely LOVE the truck but hate the motor, wish I wouldn't have bought it". I'd suspect poor performance in a loaded box truck and <10 mpg.

3.2 diesel - like many others, I was looking to get rid of my Sprinter/modern diesel engines. The 3.2 option is a big upgrade $$$ and would probably do just fine pulling a 10,000+ pound truck, but still... That's not a lot of motor for alot of frontal area + weight + dual rear wheels... 14 mpg if we're lucky?

------

So I get thinking, making calls, craigslisting.... and I'm flashing back to 2003. Here are the facts:

1) Unicell will rebody an old van if they still have the designs. 2003 is modern enough they'll do them all day, and into the foreseeable future. I asked very specifically. This also opens up the full height cab-box pass through (a $1000 option)

2) You can find diesel 2003 E450's with old metal cube bodies on the back for $5000-$10000. Just from what I saw, it looked like $8,000 would buy a nice one.

3) That old cube body would find a new home in my back yard. From what I gather, there is a market for these things and you could probably recoup some money from it. If not? I can't build a 16x8 metal shed for less than scrap value... Keep it. Then pop taillights on the chassis and road trip to NY state for the body install. 5 weeks, door to door, they say. I'd probably run up to Canada, then go to Maine or something... Mini vacation while they build my truck.

4, and perhaps most importantly) My F350 (crew cab, long bed, 4x4... BIG truck) gets a legit 20 miles per gallon behind the world renowned 7.3. Towing 6K it drops to 14 MPG going 75 mph... That's 14,000 pounds (more than the box truck) but a bit less frontal area.

With a few mods for fuel economy, I'd figure a good 13 MPG average for the 7.3 in a loaded cube van. Maybe slightly more - I try to be cautious

And I want to be optimistic, but I struggle to imagine 13 MPG in a 10,000 pound + cube van with the little 3.2. Maybe it will surprise us? Maybe it could get 15? But in all likelyhood, the 7.3 powerstroke may get the same gas mileage.......... or better.

That brings us to more math:

$8,000 - Low mileage 2003 box truck
$2,000 - fixing it up a bit... lil more "like new"
$11,000 - Aerocell body with all the options

E450 $27,000 and we're rollin! In a van that I personally went over, behind my favorite motor, with a brand spankin new 1 piece fiberglass box. A similar Transit diesel would run you around $44,000 (and that's assuming an 8% discount from MSRP)

$17,000 dollar difference.... which for me is the difference between getting a loan and having $400/mo payments +full coverage insurance etc for 5 years, or paying cash and owning my van out right.

Econoline:

  • 17K savings
  • Much less refined/Less comfort.
  • Much more road noise (pro and con.. love the 7.3 chatter!)
  • Step van style pass through from cab to box, big plus.
  • Easier maintenance
  • 7.3 won't even notice you're hauling a 10K+ brick
  • Towing will still be an option
  • Cheap: millions of donor vans. Regearing to 3.73 will be easy
  • Likely same MPG as smaller diesel, but with more drivability.
  • Comparable MPG
  • Figure in 6K for a reman motor installed, 4K for the tranny, if/when needed. Used box trucks will be WORKED, you can believe that... Some of this can be alleviated by doing a proper test drive and inspection, and figuring the need for a rebuild isn't really a CON considering the 3.2 could die at 100K just the same, and it'll likely cost a LOT more than 6K to replace. Either way, lots of savings to make up for these eventualities, should they present themselves..
  • The late 7.3 is arguably the *best* diesel motor ever sold in the US. Wanna argue? I've got two. Have a 12v cummins as well, so don't EVEN come at me with that!
>:D


Transit Diesel:

  • Will hands down be more comfortable than an old diesel Econoline, on EVERY front except for power/drivablity. I'm pretty confident in that entire statement.
  • New vehicle... new stuff... warranty. Ford builds the best trucks in the US and the Transit will most likely be a VERY nice ride.
  • Untested motor. Modern emissions. Don't tell me it's been tested all over the world... We aren't getting a south american 3.2, we're getting a USA 3.2 that is known to cause cancer in the state of california! I have high hopes that the 3.2 is a huge success and the beginning of a new era in US light truck diesel sales, but a lot can go wrong.... 3.2 is proven in South America? 7.3 is proven RIGHTCHEAAA!
  • Small motor, will almost certainly struggle at gross in a big cube van. Add in regular traverses of continental divides and highway cruising? They wouldn't even answer me IF they're willing to put a hitch on the Aerocell Transit... Sounds like towing will be out of the question. Regardless of any of that, it won't have the power of the 7.3. Period.
  • $400 a month for 5 years
  • Comparable MPG
  • $400 a month for 5 years
  • New van comfort
  • $17,000 premium
  • $400 a month for 5 years
  • $400 a month for 5 years



oi

Hope I don't offend the anti-econoline people with this post! :x I'm mostly posting to provoke thought and share with members/googlers my conversations with Unicell, maybe save someone a few phone calls! I'm pro-whateverworksbest, simple as that!
 

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Discussion Starter #15
To answer another question, this is roughly what I figure:

$1400 - spray foam to do all walls and ceiling to about 2" thick

$2000 - 2x3 lumber to frame walls/ceiling, foam boards insulation for floors, wall paneling, non toxic paint, plywood subfloor and bamboo hardwood flooring. + whatever hardware. This number could/would probably be lower, in my experience.

$1200 diesel furnace

$2000 custom all plywood cabinets and countertops in kitchen

So $6600 on the conversion... the rest I already have.. 12v fridge, deep cycle batteries, battery monitor, inverter, bed, lighting, blah blah blah. Add another few grand for that junk if you don't have it.

Yawwwwwn. Off to work.
 

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You have me thinking that a econoline BOXvan would be best for your needs, Known towing cap. Frame, room.Towing with big diesel
Its not to late to buy a new one? is that an option?

VanMan
 

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Discussion Starter #18
so what do you think you are personally going to do? what are you leaning towards?
You have me thinking that a econoline BOXvan would be best for your needs, Known towing cap. Frame, room.Towing with big diesel
Its not to late to buy a new one? is that an option?
Kinda leaning towards a used E350/450... Probably an 02 or 03.

New isn't so much an option... They haven't offered diesel vans in a number of years. After 2003 smog laws went into effect, Ford trucks and vans went to the diesel 6 liter, a motor you'll often hear people refer to as a disaster... They quit putting those in the vans in 2009, and that was the end of the diesel econoline. I'd much rather have a 2003 7.3 than a 2009 6.0, even if it is 6 years newer. And I don't much care for their V10 or 5.4 offerings on the 2014s.

2003 ford E 450 cutaway box truck

:D
 

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Kinda leaning towards a used E350/450... Probably an 02 or 03.

New isn't so much an option... They haven't offered diesel vans in a number of years. After 2003 smog laws went into effect, Ford trucks and vans went to the diesel 6 liter, a motor you'll often hear people refer to as a disaster... They quit putting those in the vans in 2009, and that was the end of the diesel econoline. I'd much rather have a 2003 7.3 than a 2009 6.0, even if it is 6 years newer. And I don't much care for their V10 or 5.4 offerings on the 2014s.

2003 ford E 450 cutaway box truck

:D
I have followed Econo's for a while,but never paid that much attention to the diesels.
I am starting to see why people go crazy over the 7.3 diesel super vans. Did not know when the cut date was. The used one is nice, racer friends sleep over the cab

VanMan
 

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Discussion Starter #20
I have followed Econo's for a while,but never paid that much attention to the diesels.
I am starting to see why people go crazy over the 7.3 diesel super vans. Did not know when the cut date was. The used one is nice, racer friends sleep over the cab

VanMan
They're pretty doggy compared to modern diesels, but if you value simplicity, good fuel economy, cheapness, less computers and sensors and proven longevity, and can give up a littttttle bit of power, that's the way to go.

And I only say give up a "littttttle bit" of power because that's exactly what it is... People will call them dogs because they're not as fast as the new trucks, but still no problem towing a 16,000 pound trailer... Not underpowered by any means.

I'm still not making any decision until I test drive all the Transits, but I'm fairly certain a diesel 02/03 E450 would put me out ahead - with 14,500 GVWR and an extra 4000 pounds of wiggleroom, towing capacity, similar MPG, and a bunch of money left over.

AND a 55 gallon fuel tank! That's 600 miles between fill ups with a 100 mile reserve!

PS I only ride for fun, although getting competitive has been on my mind lately... Maybe do some desert races. WR250. And just sold an old Yamaha RD400... may replace it with another RD or an RZ350 or something, or get a 70s 2 stroke dirt bike and make it street legalish... Looked at a nice MX360 a few days ago that woulda fit the bill. Or an Aprilia RS250 ;) Something that burns oil, rips dicks, and has a license plate... Will keep both with me when I'm on the road >:D
 
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