The Ford Transit van has been a mainstay of the UK van market for more than half a century. Leasewell looks at the history of the Transit van and its phenomenal evolution through the years.
Taunus Transit van (1953-1965)
You think of the Transit label and you think of a British institution, however the first Ford vans to wear the Transit badge were surprisingly built in Cologne, Germany. Ahead of its time, European drivers were huge lovers of the Taunus Transit at the time, with it boasting excellent storage space. This model was not exported in mass with production ceasing twelve years after its inception, but it played a significant part in the Ford Transit van that everyone loves to this day.
Ford Transit Mark 1 (1965-1977)
The longest production run of any Transit van to date, the first-generation Transit was largely unaltered during its impressive twelve-year lifespan. Initially the Transit van was built in Ford’s facility in Berkshire, however massive demand meant that facilities were surplus to requirements and production moved to Southampton where it continued until 2013.
Ford Transit Mark II (1978-1985)
The Ford Transit Mark II was a heavily facelifted version if its predecessor, with notable cosmetic and engineering improvements. The Mark II van offered more reliability and comfort than the previous model, with popularity of the Transit van surging.
Ford Transit Second Generation (1986-1994)
The Ford Transit van did not receive a massive change for more than two decades, with this showing its consistent appeal during this period. The second generation built upon all the strengths of the previous model including durability, versatility, and value for money, but with a modified interior and new bodyshell which changed the shape of the bonnet.
Ford Transit facelift and Hallmark model (1994-1999)
1994 saw the second generation Transit receive a significant facelift with a new dashboard and nose, a number of features introduced are taken for granted in today’s models, but were very much ahead of their time, including air bags, central locking, electric windows and air conditioning. 1995 Ford vans celebrated the thirtieth anniversary of the Transit van with the Transit Hallmark model. Limited to 600 models, you would be very lucky to get your hands on the incredibly rare Transit Hallmark.
Ford Transit Third Generation (2000-2005)
Advances in technology came with the third-generation model launched in 2000, with a new car-like feel behind the wheel being the most significant advancement on previous models. The new model was still excellent at carrying heavy loads; however it was now more efficient and easier to control, claiming the prestigious International Van of the Year crown in 2001.
Ford Transit Fourth Generation (2006-2012)
The body received a facelift as well as a new front and rear lights, a new interior was also introduced which featured the gearstick on the dashboard of the van and a new corporate radio design. There were also revised powertrains, with a Sport model also joining the range in 2006.
Ford Transit Fifth Generation (2013-2018)
There were now two distinct Transit body forms available, with the introduction of the medium-sized front-wheel drive Ford Transit Custom van to the market, alongside the full-size Ford Transit van designed with New Edge styling and an interior inspired by the Ford Focus.
Ford Transit facelift (2019-2020)
The model which was first seen at the 2018 IAA Commercial Vehicle Show in Hannover is now established in the large van market, with adaptations including the introduction of mild hybrid technology for the first time.
The Ford Transit van range as we know it today has something for everyone’s requirements including Ford Transit Courier and Ford Transit Connect small vans, to the UK’s best-selling Ford Transit Custom van and full-size Transit.