The very first models in 1961 had a small engine known as the 144 ci Inline 6 and it "theoretically" gets 30 to 32 miles per gallon. This same engine was available in economy passenger cars such as the Falcon, on which the Econoline is based, and some early Mustangs and can still be found in good working condition.
The engine is not a powerhouse at 80 hp. If you have a need for speed you will absolutely hate it but if you want to get to the beach on a budget or pick up some plywood at the hardware store on the weekend this engine will get the job done.
I'm going to explain, in a few instructable posts, how we pulled out the old broken engine and dropped in a rebuilt 144ci. Luckily I am a member of TechShop so even though I live in an apartment I have a public place with amazing tools, resources and great people where I can park and work on my van for a few days...so definitely "I made it at Tech Shop."
Lets get started.
Step 1: Workspace
First you need space and a place where you can leave the van for a couple days. It's possible to do it all in one day if everything goes perfectly, nothing breaks, you have all the parts that you will need to be replaced and you've done it all many times before but it will still be a challenge. You will need to have space on the passenger side of the van where you can roll the engine hoist into position. We took the engine out through the top of the engine bay and out the side doors. There are other ways such as dropping it out the bottom that I hear are just as good, especially if you have a rare van with no side doors.