"I Have Never Seen a Better Put Together Van"
There are vehicles that will arrive at the SEMA show after years of blood, sweat and tears, with knuckles and bank accounts both busted along the way. In the case of OPTIMA's 2014 Ford Econoline E-350 4x4 van, the timeframe was far shorter. Since the van was a new 2014 model, bought off the dealer lot, the process went better than many vehicles that have been ravaged by years of use on the road or years of neglect off the road. This project did not go off without it's hiccups along the way, but by and large, the process was fairly smooth as SEMA builds go.
The first stop was Ujoint Off-Road in Fletcher, North Carolina back in July. It was there, that a bulk of the heavy lifting on the mechanical end of things was accomplished, from the 4x4 conversion to a laundry list of accessories. The list of supporting partners includes:
- Front and Rear Springs from Atlas Suspension
- Complete Axle Assembly from Dynatrac
- 17x9 DRT Wheels from BMF
- Wildpeak AT Tires from Falken
- Shocks and Remote Reservoirs from Fox
- Exhaust from Magnaflow
- Intake Filter from KN
- Retractable Running Boards from AMP Research
- Running Board Adaptors from Specialized Applications
- Fender Flares from Bushwacker
- Soundproofing from Dynamat
- Roof Rack, Tool Box, Tire Rack, Ladder, Bumpers from Aluminess
- Lighting from Sierra LED
- Complete Tool Set from Snap-On
- Talon Series Winch from Superwinch
- Brake Lines from Crown Performance
- Paint by Mark Klos
- Brake lines from Crown Performance
- HID/LED Lighting from HID Projectors
- Tail lights backup lights from IPCW
- AC/DC Refrigerator from Norcold
- 2000-watt Inverter from Pro Mariner
- SP8100 8-switch system from Switch-Pros
- Dual battery system from IBS- Intelligent Battery System
- Ford radio interface by PAC
- Hardware for AMP steps by Specialized Applications
- Bike Rack by 1Up USA
- Motorized bikes by Motoped
- Batteries from OPTIMA Batteries
- Tuning Speedometer Correction by 5Star Tuning
- Mats, Wind Deflector Bumpstep from WeatherTech
- Head Unit from Pioneer
- Amplifier, Speakers, Woofers from JL Audio
- Train Horn Air Compressor System from Kleinn
From there, the Econoline was taken out West for a camper top conversion and a full Interior Super Duty Mirror Conversion by MG Metalworks. The results have been nothing less than stunning and the van's owner, Cam Douglass, Director of Product Development and Marketing for OPTIMA Batteries had nothing but rave reviews on his trek south-
Not a squeak or rattle and I'm over 500 miles into my trip. It's eerily quiet, like an S-class Mercedes. I made a bunch of unnecessary stops already just so I could get out and open and shut the doors a few times. They shut better than Mercedes. Many thanks Dynamat and attention to detail on the install by MG Metalworks!
I can't stop looking over my shoulder or in the rear view mirror at the incredible work from Michael. It's like car guy jewelry. Some of the little details that were hand-made by his father, Frank, are so cool. Custom trailblazing projects like this always have hiccups and this one tried everyone's patience including our families. There was plenty of stress to go around but Michael at MG Metalworks always kept his cool and never compromised on his commitment to high quality. He doesn't know any other way.
There is still a list of things to be done, but for now this is its maiden voyage to work out any big driveability bugs and get a feel for a van that has undergone a complete transformation. So far it has exceeded my expectations. Chris at Ujoint puts together a proven package that just works. His work, combined with the tune from Mike at 5 Star Performance and the highway driveability took a few major leaps forward.
If anyone is going to SEMA please come by the OPTIMA booth, say hi and check out this rig. Both Michael and Chris should be there.
You can see a full interior build thread, including photos of the incredible details now completed at Expedition Portal. The E-350 is making it's way down the California coastline and will be at Magnaflow world headquarters this week for a custom manifold-back exhaust system. From there, it will head over to Aluminess for installation of the roof rack and ladder. Once the transformation is completed and the Econoline E350 debuts at the 2015 SEMA Show in Las Vegas, it will hit the road in 2016. OPTIMA plans to run dozens of Livestream broadcasts in 2016 and this van will serve as our mobile headquarters for those broadcasts.
Be sure to follow OPTIMA Batteries on Facebook, to find out where you can see this van after the 2015 SEMA Show.