|Manufacturer||Ford Motor Company|
Kocaeli, Marmara, Turkey
|Predecessor||Ford Thames 400E|
4-door Crew cab
Front-wheel drive / Rear-wheel drive / Four-wheel drive
The Transit has been the best-selling light commercial vehicle in Europe for 40 years, and in some countries the term "Transit" has passed into common usage as a generic term applying to any light commercial van in the Transit's size bracket.
Over 5,000,000 Transits have been produced since 1965 across three basic platforms with several "facelift" versions of each.
The first Ford Transit (1961–1965)
- Known in Germany as the "first generation" Transit
Unlike the British-built Transit "family", the first production Ford to wear the "Transit" badge was a van built in Ford's Köln (Cologne) plant in Germany. It was introduced in 1953 as FK 1000 (Ford Köln carrying 1,000 kg). From 1961, this vehicle was called the Ford Taunus Transit. Production of this model ceased in 1965.
The German vehicle was not widely exported, and the "Mark 1" tag has commonly been applied, retrospectively, to the 1965 to 1978 British model (see below). Whilst there have been three basic Transit platforms since 1965, the various facelifts and upgrades over the years have been referred to using a conflicting range of "Mark" numbers, with some sources counting a facelift as a new "Mark", some not. Ford's own historical look back at Transit production, published for the launch of the 1994 model, avoids the issue by referring to generations of Transit by years produced. Therefore this article attempts to correlate of all the common naming systems.
Ford Transit 1965–1978
- UK "Mark 1"; Germany "Second generation"
The first Ford Transit proper was introduced in October 1965, and has been in continuous production in three basic generations to the present day. The van was produced initially at Ford's Langley facility in Berkshire, England (a former Second World War aircraft factory which had produced Hawker Hurricane fighters), but as demand outstripped the capability of the plant, production was moved to Southampton, where it has remained ever since. Transits have also been produced in Ford's Genk factory in Belgium and also Turkey. The Transit is also produced in China for the Chinese domestic market.
The Transit was introduced to replace the Ford Thames 400E, a small mid-engined forward control van noted for its narrow track which was in competition with similar looking but larger vehicles from The BMC J4 and J2 vans and Rootes's Commer PB ranges. In a UK market segment then dominated by the Bedford CA, Ford's Thames competitor, because of its restricted load area, failed to win over company users in sufficient numbers: so Ford went back to the drawing board and switched to a front engined configuration, along the lines pioneered during the 1950s by Bedford with their well regarded CA series vans. Henry Ford II's revolutionary step was to combine the engineering effort of Ford of Britain, and Ford of Germany together to create a prototype for the Ford of Europe of today — previously the two subsidiaries had avoided competing in one another's domestic markets but been in direct competition with each other in other European markets.
The Transit was a departure from the European commercial vehicles of the day — its broad track and American-inspired styling gave it a huge advantage in carrying capacity over comparable vehicles of the day and revolutionised light goods transport. Most of the Transit's mechanical components were adapted from Ford's car range of the time. Another key to the Transit's success was the sheer number of different body styles: panel vans in long and short wheelbase forms, pick-up truck, minibuses, crew-cabs to name but a few. The engines used in the UK were the Essex V4 for the petrol engined version in 1.7 L and 2.0 L capacities, while a 43 bhp (32 kW) diesel engine sourced from Perkins was also offered. As the engine was too long to fit under the Transit's stubby nose section, the diesel version featured a restyled and longer bonnet. The underpowered Perkins proved unpopular, and was replaced by Ford's own "York" unit in 1974. For the mainland Europe the Transit had the German Ford Taunus V4 engine in 'Cologne' 1.7 or 'Essex' 2.0 litre versions.
The diesel version's long nose front was also used to accommodate the Ford 3.0 litre V6 engine in vans supplied to police and ambulance services.
Ford Transit 1978–1986
- UK "Mark 2"; Germany "Third generation"
In March 1978, a facelifted version – commonly known in some markets as the "Mark 2" model – debuted with a restyled nose section, new interior, and the introduction of the Pinto engine from the Cortina in place of the Essex V4. However many fleet owners had had bad experiences with premature camshaft wear problems in the early Pinto units in the Cortina and for two years the Transit 75 was available with the 1.6 L Ford Kent "Xflo" engine. High performance versions intended for police or ambulance use used the 3.0 L V6 version of the Essex engine. In 1984, the York diesel engine was redesigned into the 2.5 L "DI" (direct injection) unit.
Late in its life this generation received a minor facelift including a black rubberised front grille with integrated headlamp surrounds, which had previously been body-coloured. This facelift did not commonly result in a new "Mark" number being applied.
Ford Transit 1986–1991 & minor facelift 1991–1994 (VE6 & VE64 after facelift)
- UK "Mark 3" and "Mark 4" after facelift; Germany "Fourth generation"
What proved to be the second generation Transit platform appeared in January 1986 and was notable for its all-new bodyshell which was of "one-box" design (i.e. the windscreen and bonnet are at the same angle), and the front suspension was changed to a fully independent configuration on all but chassis cab and LWB versions. The engine range was carried over largely unchanged from the last of the 1978-85 generation models, although in 1989 the high performance 3.0 V6 petrol was replaced by the Cologne 2.9 EFI V6. A subtle facelift in 1992 saw the fully independent front suspension rolled out across the range, whilst a redesigned floorpan allowed the use of single rear wheels on the LWB derivative, further increasing payload — these models are identifiable by the slightly more rounded front headlamps.
This generation of Transit was used by Jeremy Clarkson in Top Gear's Man With Van Challenge, finishing second (vs a tiny Suzuki Super Carry and huge LDV Convoy). This involved buying a van for under £1000, and several tests representing (stereo)typical van use: a quarter-mile drag race (cross-city speed); loading, carrying, and disgorging a load of furniture (space, access); tailgating (visibility, control); replacing a "damaged" door (maintenance); a police chase (handling), etc. The Transit upheld its reputation for agility by performing particularly well in the final chase, "resisting arrest" much longer than the slow LDV and unstable Suzuki, which overturned at the first curve.
Ford Transit 1994–2000 (VE83)
- UK "Mark 5"; Germany "Fifth generation"
A major facelift to the Transit in 1994/5 gave the Transit a new nose and dashboard, along with the 2.0 L DOHC 8-valve engine as found in the 1994 to 1998 Ford Scorpio. It is similar to the earlier Sierra DOHC unit but without the distributor and uses the updated OBD II-compliant EEC-V level engine control unit. Some of Ford's 16-valve engines, such as those found in the Scorpio, Escort RS2000 and Galaxy were also based on this block. At the same time air conditioning, electric windows, central locking, electric mirrors and airbags were all made available as optional extras.
The turbo diesel version came in 85 PS (63 kW), 100 PS (74 kW) and 115 PS (85 kW) version with an electronic fuel pump.
For the 30th anniversary of the Transit in 1995 Ford released a limited edition model called the Transit Hallmark. Six hundred were made and were available in three colours with 200 being made in each.
Ford Transit 2000–2006 (V184/5)
- UK "Mark 6"; Germany "Sixth generation"
The next Transit, introduced in July 2000, was the third all-new design, and borrowed styling cues from Ford's "New Edge" designs like the Focus, and Ka. Developed by Ford in the United States, the main innovation is that it is available in either front or rear-wheel drive. Ford nomenclature makes this the V184 (rear wheel drive) or V185 (front wheel drive) model. This model features the "Puma"-type Duratorq turbo diesel engine also used in the 2000 Mondeo and Jaguar X-Type, with the petrol versions moving up to the 2.3 L 16-Valve edition of the straight-4 engine. With this engine, the Transit can reach 60nph in 21 seconds and reach a top speed of 93mph, returning it to car-like performance as claimed for the earliest models. A demonstration of this model's speed was shown on Top Gear in 2005, where German race driver Sabine Schmitz attempted to drive it around the Nürburgring in under ten minutes, matching Jeremy Clarkson's time in a turbodiesel Jaguar S-type; she was unsuccessful, but only by a few seconds.
This version won the International Van of the Year 2001.
The Durashift EST automatic transmission (optional on all rear-wheel drive models) features controls mounted on the dashboard, a specially adapted manual mode, tow-haul mode, economy mode and winter mode.
Two years later, Ford introduced the Transit Connect, a smaller panel van based on the C170 (Focus) platform and aimed at replacing the older Escort and Fiesta based models. It shares very little with the full-size Transit in terms of engineering, although is produced alongside the larger van in a new purpose built facility in Turkey.
2002 saw the introduction of the first High Pressure Common Rail diesel engine in the Transit, with the launch of the 125PS HPCR 2.0 litre in the FWD.
2004 saw the launch of the first RWD HPCR, the 135PS 2.4 litre variant that also introduced the 6-speed MT-82 RWD gearbox.
The five-millionth Transit rolled off the Southampton line on Monday, [8 July 2005 and was donated to an English charity.
Ford Transit 2006–present (V347/8)
2.2L Duratorq TDCi I4|
2.4L Duratorq TDCi I4
3.2L Duratorq TDCi I5
2.3L Duratec I4 
(2.2L Duratorq, medium wheelbase, medium roof, panel van)
- UK "Mark 7"; Germany "Seventh generation"
In August 2006, the Transit received a facelift to the body, including new front and rear lights, a new front end and a new interior featuring the gearstick on the dashboard as well as incorporating Ford's new corporate radio design. Besides the styling changes, the powertrains were all revised. The old petrol engine was replaced with one from the Ford Ranger, the front wheel drive diesel went from 2.0 to 2.2 litres capacity, and all diesel engines gained high-pressure common rail (TDCi) systems. The powertrains were changed to meet new emissions legislation. The new version (Ford nomenclature V347 for front wheel drive and V348 for rear wheel drive) won International Van of the Year for 2007 despite tough competition from several all-new rivals.
Mid 2006 saw the launch of the "Sport Van", a limited production Van featuring the 130 PS (96 kW) engine with additional styling parts, "Le Mans" stripes and 18 inch alloy wheels.
Late 2007 saw the launch of the 140PS engine for front wheel drives (replacing the 130 PS) complete with the VMT6 6-speed transaxle to cope with the extra power.
The 6-speed transaxle was introduced on the mid-power FWD in late 2008 when the 110PS engine was upped to 115PS.
Also, in late 2008, the "coated Diesel Particulate Filter" (cDPF) – designed to meet higher emission standards than the current Euro IV requirement – was introduced as an option on all diesel engines.
Specialist Body builder conversions
Ford Transit XXL
To celebrate the Transit's status as International Van of the Year 2007, Ford built this stretch limo style van – the Transit XXL. It is a one-off special that is among the most expensive Transits ever.
Ford County 4-WD
A special version for use by the Unities and emergency services with improved ground clearance and 4-WD was developed by County Commercial Cars with Ford of Britain. The early versions were converted by County but latter ones were built by Ford using a kit supplied by County.
A Monster truck version was built by a local radio DJ in the early 1980's in the UK that attended local shows and charity events. It was a standard transit body fitted with industrial axles and terra tyres in the style of the American Big Foot trucks.
A number of body builders built Camper van models on the Transit chassis, either as van conversions utilising the std van body or as chassis cabs with a bigger custom built body fitted.
The Ford Transit made its début in the American continent in Mexico on September 10, 2007 and over nine different models are offered. This is the only country in the American continent in which it is currently on sale. Ford's CEO Alan Mulally has recently determined that the rest of North America will be getting the Ford Transit.
Due to its four cylinder diesel engines, manual transmission, lower weight and more aerodynamic design, the Transit is considerably more fuel efficient than its North American counterpart the E-Series, which is a mainstay with a V8 and automatic transmission.
Examples of early Transit models in the UK can be seen at Classic vehicle shows in the UK and other events for historic vehicles.
- Preservation related
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 "Series 06, Episode 07". Top Gear. BBC. 10 July 2005. No. 7, series 6.
- ↑ "Van World" marketing periodical; in article "1965-1995: 30 years and 3,000,000 Transits later"; pub. Ford Motor Company Ltd., Brentwood, UK; Autumn 1994
- ↑ Ford Transit Powertrain
- ↑ Ford Panel Vans specifications brochure
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