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WillG80 GRM+ Memberand Reader
3/28/21 7:49 p.m.

I figured it's time to document my two newest project vehicles somewhere, and what better place than this. Even though both have nothing to do with motorsport, I like this place.


Meet Pumba. A 1996 Ford E350 C&C Ambulance with a 7.3 diesel engine and a slipping E4OD transmission. Pumba spent his life in a small town in Arizona which means there is no rust, and only minor sun damage. At the time of purchase Pumba was still sporting a full ambulance interior, PA system, sirens, and working emergency lights. 

The plan is to convert Pumba to a 4WD camper that I can take wherever the wind blows. I've got my work cut out on this one. 

WillG80 GRM+ Memberand Reader
3/28/21 7:57 p.m.

Meet Timon.

I drove 5 hours to Utah to pick up this mystery machine. Timon is a 1987 Mitsubishi Montero SWB with many unidentified mods. It's a bit of a project but I'm not planning anything major. The IFS was ripped out and replaced by a Toyota solid axle with a 3-link setup. I was told the engine, transmission and transfer case are also Toyota units but I have yet to confirm anything. Timon runs and drives but needs a lot of attention. This is only my second Japanese car of the 23 cars I've owned to date. It's all very new to me. 

WillG80 GRM+ Memberand Reader
3/28/21 8:12 p.m.

The first step was to de-ambulize Pumba. Driving around in a giant red ambulance isn't something I like, so the interior, exterior lights and red color has to go. 

First, I removed all the emergency lights and made some covers using .030" Aluminum sheet i had laying around. The two front fenders had light holes in them so I removed those too and replaced the fenders with some junkyard units.

WillG80 GRM+ Memberand Reader
3/28/21 8:24 p.m.

Next up was gutting the interior. There were miles and miles and miles and miles of wiring. And the wiring was integrated into everything. I wanted to get it all out and start fresh. I didn't want the camper wiring to be integrated into the truck wiring (besides a dc-dc charger) so it all had to go. It was a long tedious process to rip it all out and restore the e350 wiring to its former glory. 


Then it was time to hit the scales. I had to get a F/R weight because the 4WD kit has springs made for the weight of the vehicle. It was tough deciding on a weight since I had to guess the completed camper weight. 

With that done it was almost time to move her into the garage for the major surgery. First, one more thing to do. I planned to paint the roof with Monstaliner (rubberized coating) while it was in the garage so I had to sand the sun damaged paint before pulling it inside. 

WillG80 GRM+ Memberand Reader
3/28/21 8:31 p.m.

Painted the roof while it was inside. Here's a before and after:

Then it was time for the suspension teardown. The front I-beam suspension will get replaced by good ol leaf springs and a Dana 60 solid front axle from a 2003 F350.


Tore out the old E4OD along with all the trans cooler lines. After that was out it was time to R&R the rear main seal. 

jimbob_racing SuperDork
3/28/21 8:41 p.m.


WillG80 GRM+ Memberand Reader
3/28/21 8:48 p.m.

Dana 60 getting rebuilt before being installed

New upper shock mounts welded in. 


Getting help from these two


I had to do some minor modifications to the transmission crossmember since I was swapping in a ZF5 instead of another E4OD. The mount is offset by about an inch. 


Fabbing up the clutch pedal. This is something I got asked about a lot on the camper forums. I took out the complete brake pedal assembly and after some investigation i realized that I could mount another pedal on the rod next to the existing brake pedal if I cut the sleeves shorter. Here's a before and after.

The other issue with the conversion on the vans is that there is no room for a master cylinder in the  engine bay, so it has to be mounted in the non-existent space above the pedal assembly somewhere. I managed to make it fit, but I have to remove the gage cluster to fill the master cylinder reservoir. Far from ideal, but it works. 

A made a shift linkage for the transfer case and did a little cutting and bending on the shifter to get it in the right location


WillG80 GRM+ Memberand Reader
3/28/21 8:55 p.m.

Picked up some wheels and tires for cheap on FB. The bolt pattern is now 8x170 with the 2003 front axle so the old wheels and tires won't fit anymore. 

Drove the 2 hours to Grand Junction (where Flyin Miata is) to get some driveshafts made.

Then I cleaned out the back and installed some laminate flooring. I wanted something that was light weight, thin (for headroom) and scratch resistant for the dogs. 

WillG80 GRM+ Memberand Reader
3/28/21 8:59 p.m.

Naturally after sitting for so long (the above took about 5 months) the batteries were dead. I tried to bring them back but they were toast. Oddly enough the two batteries squeezed in the engine bay are not both the same size. One is an odd size that seemed hard to find so I decided to relocate the batteries to the frame rails underneath the ambulance box to accomplish two things. First, I get to use whatever size batteries I want. Second, I free up space in the incredibly tight engine bay. 

Next step, remake all the battery cables. The cables run from the battery directly to the starter, but everything else runs through a cutoff switch that is mounted in the cab. 

Brett_Murphy (Ex-Patrón)
Brett_Murphy (Ex-Patrón) GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
3/28/21 9:04 p.m.

This is already EPIC.

mdshaw GRM+ Memberand Reader
3/28/21 9:43 p.m.

I was going to recommend a great shop to rebuild your E4OD -never mind. 

Recon1342 Dork
3/28/21 10:35 p.m.

Yup. You're gonna fit right in around here...

03Panther SuperDork
3/28/21 11:01 p.m.

Love the support team. Great to have friends along. 

Both of your projects are things I’ve thought about doing, but never got to; and I may be project-ed out.  So living vicariously through you, now. I expect more great things from ya! (No pressure, or anythingsmiley)

I seem to be having deja vue , I’d swear I’ve seen this build on some other forum, a couple years ago. But you mentioned the van sitting about 5 months. Is that current, and my mind is just tricking me?

Great looking work  


preach (fs)
preach (fs) GRM+ Memberand HalfDork
3/28/21 11:11 p.m.

Golly. This escalated...

bgkast (Forum Supporter)
bgkast (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand PowerDork
3/28/21 11:30 p.m.
WillG80 said:

Bad ass

WillG80 GRM+ Memberand Reader
3/29/21 8:04 p.m.

This might sound a little ridiculous, but does anybody know what the engine in the Montero is? Is it the OE Montero engine that someone slapped a turbo on, or is it an 80s Toyota engine? Here's a few more pictures. 

GCrites80s HalfDork
3/29/21 8:16 p.m.

I would say shame on you for buying something with an unknown engine but I don't know what it is either.

mjrj (Forum Supporter)
mjrj (Forum Supporter) Reader
3/29/21 8:29 p.m.

I think its the Mitsubishi 2.6L 4G54.


Dusterbd13-michael (Forum Supporter)
Dusterbd13-michael (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
3/29/21 8:43 p.m.

4x4 box van....


Im in lust.


Carry on. 

I have thoughts about doing the 4wd conversion to my E450 bus. Then I remember how many other projects I have plans for. 

Looks like a fun project. Looking forward to seeing how it progresses. 



bonylad Reader
3/30/21 7:47 a.m.

Not a Toyota engine............

WillG80 GRM+ Memberand Reader
3/30/21 8:56 a.m.
mjrj (Forum Supporter) said:

I think its the Mitsubishi 2.6L 4G54.


Thanks, that looks familiar. I did some research on the engine and saw it pop up on several "10 worst engines" lists. Which explains why it's absolutely gutless, even running 8psi of boost. I'm not a fan of a turbo engine in an off-road vehicle so I might look at one of the V6 swaps out there. 

WillG80 GRM+ Memberand Reader
3/30/21 8:58 a.m.

In reply to 03Panther :

Nope, it's all current. I've been at it for about 6 months with the ambulance, and the Montero is brand new to me. 

irish44j (Forum Supporter)
irish44j (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
3/30/21 4:31 p.m.

I don't know Jack about ambulances but I do know quite a bit about SWB gen1 montys. I have a very extensive build thread on mine in this forum in case you are looking for anything about them :)

In any case interested to see where both projects go!


irish44j (Forum Supporter)
irish44j (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
3/30/21 4:33 p.m.

Also that could be a starion/conquest engine since it has the turbo. to my knowledge of the Montero never came with a turbo 4-cylinder other than the diesels. 


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