This van actually started out as a compact van, competing with the likes of the Chevy Corvair van and the VW Type 2. It was based on the Falcon. Companies like Bell Telephone started to use the van for commercial purposes, and by 1968 the van was made much larger and more targeted for cargo use.
The newly remodeled Econoline became the first to put the engine all the way in the front under a short hood.
The modern version of these vans can hold up to 15 passengers, but are usually used by construction and utilities companies. These vehicles are not particularly safe when loaded with 15 passengers. All that extra weight makes for a very high center of gravity, increasing the chances of a rollover crash. In addition, these vans are not as safe in a side impact collision as other larger vehicles, such as buses.
If you are looking to buy one of these used, watch out for high mileage. You can probably save a lot of money if you buy on eBay. Look for someone in your area selling one there to save on pickup expenses. You can also find plenty of parts on the auction website.