The sight of a white Ford Transit van trundling or sometimes speeding along is a very common on UK roads. And no wonder well over eight million of them have been sold since they were first brought out in 1965. This versatile Van has been used by builders from Inverness to plumbers in Aberystwyth or that Man and Van Slough, https://www.uk-tdl.com/man-van.html for more details. The van was first made in Langley and it has tirelessly worked its best throughout the decades. Perhaps we should look at this road warrior and see how it’s changed.
In 1965 it was time for Ford owners to say goodbye too the Thames 400E. It was being replaced by a new breed of Van designed to make the most of the UK’s road network following the end of the regional railways under Doctor Beeching. Its demand was so much that it had to have its production moved to Southampton. The Transit is the work of Ford of Britain and Ford of Germany. The companies were then merged forming Ford Europe. The Van brought together the two countries who previously had been careful not to step on each other’s toes in the market. Both recognised a need for a front engine vehicle so that more could be placed in the back. Also, it had a snazzy American design behind it making look a little special compared to it’s competitors such a Bedford and BMC.
It was adaptable in more ways than its competitors. There were alternative body styles, a pickup truck option and even a mini bus option which took it into a whole new market. It wasn’t uncommon to see many of them turn up as Ice cream vans. It also had a bad boy reputation as in the early seventies police stated that it was the van of choice for bank robbery and it’s certainly true that it pops up a lot on old cop shows like the Sweeney or as the mode of transport for some dodgy gang in the Professionals.
In 1978 the Van got a face lift. Basically, it had a better engine. named after a horse due to it’s work rate. The front got the most treatment. Rather than the rounded head lamps an oblong wrap around was used with square lights. The increased engine power and options up to 2.0 litres with differing axle options to take more load and more seats meant that the real versatility of the van came through to make it very successful Again whilst it’s main function was for the tradesman and delivery driver, there were other options open to it and it was available as a mini bus.
This lasted till 1986 when the box on wheels design was changed for a sloped front in an attempt at aerodynamics. The third generation began in 2000 basing some design on the residential transport vehicles Focus and KA. It was no longer the Transit but was now called the Tourneo, though the legacy remained.