A history of the Transit van, by Peter Lee
The first MK1 Transit for sale came off the line in October 9/19th 1965. Body shells were put together in the UK at the Southampton Plant with the production line at Fords Langley Plant near Heathrow airport.
The Transit has been updated for all of its life and by 1971 it had a facelift with a new grill and some internal engineering changes as well as a new dash pad. Transit were also produced in Genk Belgium from 1965 and Istanbul Turkey from 1967 as well as other countries.
The first MK2 came off the line at Southampton and Genk in March 1978, while the basic load compartment behind the drivers head did not change the cab seats, engine and all the engineering behind this new van was completely new.
October 1983 saw a new grill again this time in plastic and while the evolution of the Transit goes on week by week and month by month the visual ones are always remembered. Also incorporated at this time were some design changes to the cab again.
The First MK3/4 Transit arrived on December 2nd 1985 and this saw the largest sales program for a light commercial vehicle ever with Ford making sure it was impossible to watch TV/ cinema or read a newspaper without seeing the fact there was a new Transit on the road.
Once again in 1991 the Transit got a face lift but this time for some reason it was called the MK4 Transit by the public with all the changes to the cab, grill and engineering components at the same time.
The MK5 Transit By the 15th of August 1994 the press got their hands on the new van, and yet again was left unchanged from behind the drivers head with just two small vents added to the side panels at the rear of the van. The engine modifications however were huge; it was at this stage that Ford marketing came up with the idea of the Hallmark Transit. A campaign that linked the Transit to pop groups, Abbey Road and 30 years of history.
The MK6 Transit arrived in February 2000. Ford got this great new van on the roads for the new Millennium. A completely new vehicle, for a new century, and once again Ford nailed it. Every single item on the van worked perfectly, and people got just what they wanted - the perfect Transit.
The MK 7 Transit was on the roads across Europe in April 2006, although it was a facelift, no one would have known, with complete with new grill, new lights and a host of new items. It looked totally different. This facelift was also linked to lots of other changes, making the van more like a car than ever before. For example - the power train new engine line up.
The MK8 Transit brings us right up to date with the Full sized Transit, but as we know there are others to talk about. The full size van, or as it is known as - the Two-tonne Transit. The UK press were introduced to the new Transit in February 2014, and the results at the event were the best ever. The Ford Transit yet again proved it was the van to own, as the changes on this van were not just from an engineering point of view. The new high-tech cab environment is outstanding in every way. Also with Transit production at Kansas City Assembly Plant in the USA starting on April 30, the Transit is on sale in the USA for the first time. It will replace the Econoline.
The Transit Custom saw its first light of day at the NEC in Birmingham in April 2013, with press and test drive days having been held in 2012. This amazing vehicle took off with a big bang getting the International Van Of The Year "van of the year" award in 2013. Designed as the perfect van it handles well, looks good and sold at an amazing rate, out selling all its rivals in just a few months. It was designed at Dunton in Essex.
The Transit Connect Turn the clocks back to May 2002 if you want the history of the Connect. I think this vehicle deserves a book all to itself. This small Transit is in a class all of its own, never before has a small van looked so good and yet driven so well.It had a face lift in 2007 and was completely re-designed in 2014. The design of the new connect has taken the mid to small van market to a new level.
The Transit courier the baby of the Transit family is a great addition to the team. Built to last and drive like a car, fully loaded or empty. Having test driven this van at the commonwealth games for the first time I would have gladly driven one home instead of getting on the plane. A true Transit in every way.