Ford Transit: Backbone of Britain for over 50 years

Added: 27 February 2017

“Iconic” and “legendary”... two words which have been used to describe the instantly recognisable Ford Transit. But how can a humble van conjure such emotive language from the automotive world?

Since the very first Ford Transit rolled off the production line, there has been one sold every three minutes. It’s a bold statement, but it’s difficult to argue with its accuracy when you take into account just how many are on the road. One look out onto the street and it’s unlikely to be long before you see one!

MkI Transit… The Legend Begins

1965 was an eventful year. It was the year in which the The Beatles’ last live UK tour concluded, the year the Rolling Stones released “(I can’t get no) Satisfaction”, the year in which Mary Quant introduced the mini skirt and the year when Sir Winston Churchill died. It was also the year in which the Ford Transit was launched.

The first Ford Transits would set you back £542. They were produced at Ford’s Langley factory in Berkshire until 1972, when demand outstripped the capacity for the site and production was moved to Southampton.

Growing Popularity
The second generation of Transit arrived in 1978 and with it came its first automatic gearbox. In 1985, the MkII Transit took the brand past the point of 2 million being built. In 1986, the Transit MkIII arrived, sporting a more aerodynamic design, which increased fuel efficiency and also improved crash protection.

In 1994, the three million mark was passed. And in 2000, the four million mark coincided with the fourth generation Transit launching. It was the first light commercial vehicle with front- and rear-wheel drive configurations on the same platform. Then in 2007, all-wheel drive joined the range, making all three configurations available on the same chassis, and in 2010. The Transit’s 45th anniversary was celebrated by hitting a total production mark of 6 million.

Now, if all of the Transits produced to date were lined up end to end, they would circle the world.

Unparalleled Success

The Transit isn’t just popular with the public. Automotive writers are fans too! Having received numerous awards previously, the Ford Transit won the automotive equivalent of a knighthood in 2016, when it was allowed entry to the What Van? Hall of Fame.

At the time, What Van? summarised, “
There aren’t many people in the UK who are untouched by the icon of the British LCV market on a daily basis. Half a century of unbridled and peerless success make the Transit a worthy addition to our Hall of Fame.”

Then and Now

The Ford Transit was was a van which had an immediate impact - in the sixties, it provided practical support for the booming economies of Europe. Over time, it has intertwined itself with British history and culture - ever popular, yet never standing still. 

Since its launch in 1965, the Ford Transit has grown from a single model to an entire family. Adapting to the demands of the public, Ford has introduced the Ford Transit Connect, Ford Transit Custom and the Ford Transit Courier - all of which are excellent in their own ways.

At Day’s Transit Centre, we have no doubt that the Transit will remain at the forefront of the commercial vehicle offering in this country - we can’t wait to find out what Ford decides to do next with the van that makes up the backbone of Britain!

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