October 17, 2017 at 10:43 AM
The humble Ford Transit has been a favourite of van drivers, business owners, and fleet operators for more than 50 years. The iconic Transit which is built primarily as a cargo van, is also available as a minibus (known as the Ford Tourneo since 1995) and a chassis cab; making it an ever-popular choice for both large-scale delivery companies and solo operators. Over five decades, the Ford Transit has seen four major upgrades in both styling and technology, with each receiving significant cosmetic and equipment upgrades as the years went by, to match the changing needs of consumers and to introduce developing technology.
The story begins in 1965 with the arrival of the Mk1 Transit. Initially produced at Ford's Langley production facility in Berkshire to replace the smaller Ford Thames 400E, which lacked the capacity to compete with rival models; and to enter the developing market of fleet vehicles. It quickly gained popularity due to the many different styles offered, as well as some innovative design elements under the bonnet which were revolutionary at the time.
Above: Ford Transit Mk1 (Pre-facelift version)
The Mk2 Transit followed in 1978 with a modified design, including a new front section, modern interior, and a new engine. As with the earlier version, the mark 2 was available in a range of styles, and underwent a number of cosmetic facelifts to the exterior over the years. A major part of the vehicle’s success was the company’s ability to offer so many different versions and customisations, from base length, to interior design, to engine choice. Ford continued to design vehicles that were targetted towards specific industries.
Above: Ford Transit Mk2 (Facelift version)
In 1986, the van underwent a comprehensive re-design, resulting in a more aerodynamic, modern style vehicle. The Mk3 Transit proved popular throughout large parts of Britain and mainland Europe, and even as far as China. Modifications to the front suspension and rear wheels in 1992, with Ford increasing the payload capacity to create the Mk4 version. Two years later the van underwent a major transformation with the Mark 5 variant, increasing the aero-dynamic front, and modernising the dashboard, as luxury fittings such as central locking, electric windows, and air-bags were offered as additional extras.
Above: Ford Transit Mk3 (Pre-facelift version)
A brand new design was introduced in 2000 offering a choice of front or rear-wheel drive for the first time, with many of the previously available extras now fitted as standard. The “mark 6” version also benefited from increased performance ability over the previous version. It’s popularity continued, winning International Van of the Year in 2001, and the company reached 5 million in sales of the Ford Transit in 2005, cementing its place as the most popular van in British history.
Above: Ford Transit Mk6 (Pre-facelift version)
A year later, in 2006, the van received another facelift, re-designing the front end and introducing diesel engines as standard on the “mark 7.”
Above: Ford Transit Mk7 (Facelift version)
The current generation, the Mk8 Ford Transit was introduced in 2013, and for the first time was available in several different sizes to compete in different markets. Alongside the standard Transit, Ford also offered buyers smaller variations of the beloved van: Transit Courier, Transit Connect, and Transit Custom.
Above: Ford Transit Mk8
The van has continued to be at the forefront of modern vehicle design, and technological developments from its inception through to the current day, and shows no signs of slowing down. The many designs and customisable options available, make it the perfect choice for any industry.