Ford just unveiled the Transit Trail as a van with overlanding in mind, adding standard features like all-wheel drive, a raised ride height, and all-terrain tires. While this model is new, the idea is not. The 1970 Econoline Kilimanjaro concept was a complex interpretation of a rig for off-road adventures.
We asked the Ford Archives for more details on the Kilimanjaro van, and were able to get us an original press release (see gallery below). Dated November 11, 1969, the document described the vehicle as “a rugged and spacious four-wheel-drive vehicle designed to carry hunters, rifles, ammunition and two-way radios in swampy forests or desert sands.” Is.”
Strangely, the release doesn’t mention the van’s best feature. Large panels at the rear open to expose the sides and part of the roof. While it seems perfect for getting a good look at nature, the reference to carrying hunters, rifles and ammunition makes us wonder if the original intention was as a shooting platform.
At least there is a step in the body on the driver’s side. One person can use it to climb onto the vehicle to access the full-size spare tire on the roof.
The release describes the van’s color as “bush jacket beige.” In addition, a wide leopard print wraps around the entire body. Whether or not this combination looks good is subjective, but it certainly makes a statement.
A modified bumper houses a pair of gas cans, which doesn’t seem like the safest place for them in a front-end collision. There are also two spotlights.
This van runs on Firestone brand tires with a very chunky tread pattern.
Unfortunately, we know no more about the Kilimanjaro concept. Chicago Auto Show page Indicates the van was on display there, possibly in the 1970s.
The Ford Archives sent us a scanned article from the January-February 1974 issue of Ford Dealer Magazine (above). Jerome Duncan Ford in Sterling Heights, Michigan held a special event in September 1973 to promote RV sales. As part of the promotion, the Kilimanjaro concept was on display in the showroom. A Baja Bronco was also there.
Unfortunately, the article did not specify whether Jerome Duncan owned the Ford Kilimanjaro concept, borrowed it from Ford, or obtained the van from a third party. The story confirms the vehicle’s survival until at least 1973.
If you know any other details about the concept of Kilimanjaro, especially its fate today, let us know in the comments.