Fifty years ago next model year, Ford began its domination of the full-size van segment with its much-loved E-Series. Original buyers immediately took a liking to the model's versatility and variant diverseness - distinct traits that have withstood the test of time.

In celebration of this milestone, Ford has announced a 50th anniversary edition van that's replete with embroidered seats, unique badging, and a series-specific blue metallic paintjob.

Like countless ambulance operators, social groups, outdoorsmen/women, we quickly took a liking to Ford's biggest van - it won our 1992 Truck of the Year competition and has solidified its standing as America's best-selling full-size van for 31 years straight.

Back in 1961, it debuted in three styles: pickup, delivery van, and station bus. A year later, the family-oriented Club Wagon arrived, and in 1965 the ultimate SuperVan revamped the segment with its massive interior space.

A second generation rolled off assembly lines in 1969 and came with an available V-8, air conditioning, power steering, and a parcel delivery version. A body-on-frame construction, more attractive interior packaging, and extensive engine range were included in 1975's third generation.

The latest fourth generation E-Series maintains its forefathers' usability, generous cargo capacity, and if so equipped, passenger room. Of course, it receives today's safety features, improved aerodynamics, Super Duty-like aesthetics, and revamped suspension and chassis calibrations for a suppler ride. There are also newer technologies such as Ford Work Solutions, SYNC, navigation, and HD Radio.

Here, a few highlights from E-Series' storied history:

1961: Econoline is introduced for commercial customers with three bodystyles: Delivery Van, Pickup and Station Bus

1962: Club Wagon introduced as passenger and load-carrying vehicle with light towing capabilities

1963: Seat belts introduced as an option

1965: SuperVan (extended, bustle-back model) introduced midyear

1968: Second-generation Econoline vans available in three series: E-100, E-200 and E-300 (air conditioning offered for the first time)

1971: Econoline Parcel Delivery Van added to lineup

1975: Third-generation Econoline debuts with body-on-frame construction, higher gross vehicle weight ratings, improved interior package and wider selection of engines. This design was offered in the same basic configuration for the next 17 years

1976: Factory-customized, youth-oriented Cruising Van debuts with mod paint schemes, carpeted interior and porthole panel windows

1978: Econoline chassis cab model debuts

1981: Higher payloads appear on most models

1983: Super Wagon reintroduced to lineup

1987: E-250 eight-passenger Club Wagon added



1992: Fourth-generation introduced – Van and Club Wagon; Chateau Wagon is MOTOR TREND Truck of the Year

1995: Econoline attained leadership in virtually every aspect of the full-size van market with 48 percent share of its segment, 33 percent of the van conversion market, 90 percent of the Class C motor home conversion market, 40 percent of the parcel delivery van market (Econoline chassis), 90 percent of the ambulance market (Econoline commercial cutaway chassis) and 39 percent of the passenger van market (Club Wagon)

1997: New standard V6 engine offered along with the 6.8-liter V10

2001: E-Series name debuts in Ford literature, along with the E-150 Traveler van targeted for families

2005: Powertrain options now include V8, 6.0-liter Power Stroke V-8 turbo diesel and V10

2006: Last E-Series model produced at Lorain Assembly Plant in Ohio

2007: First E-Series model produced at Ohio Assembly Plant in Avon Lake

2008: E-Series debuts as strictly a commercial vehicle; features best-in-class capability, an improved chassis for better durability and handling, cargo security technologies and the return of the diesel engine option

2011: E-Series, America’s best-selling van for 31 years, celebrates its 50th anniversary by offering premium Ford-exclusive technology like SYNC voice-activated communications and entertainment system and industry-exclusive Ford Work Solutions. E-Series vans are available in E-150, E-250 Super Duty and E-350 Super Duty regular and extended-length configurations. Wagons are available in E-150 and E-350 Super Duty regular and E-350 Super Duty extended-length configurations

Source: Ford