Wednesday 26 April 2017

Ten things to know about Ford’s iconic Transit van as it celebrates 50 years on the road

Eddie Cunningham

Eddie Cunningham

Everywhere you go you will see a Ford Transit in some guise or other – small, medium or large. That’s hardly surprising – the iconic workhorse has been around for 50 years and is going stronger than ever.

Nowadays it’s family of vehicles that has as many roles as owners.

But here are 10 things you mightn’t know about it.

*A well-minded classic Transit from the Sixties could be worth as much as €60,000 today. Not a bad return.

*Back in the Fifties, Henry Ford Junior wanted ‘one van for Europe’.

*Planning for the new van started as far back as 1957. The man charged with revolutionising the whole area was Arthur Molyneux. As part of his research he spent two months watching milkmen loading and unloading to see how they were using vehicles. He repeated the exercise in a builder’s merchants in London.

Motoring Editor Eddie Cunningham with Lotto Winner Gerry Murphy. A Transit van was one of the first purchases he bought with his €6.3m fortune this year.
Motoring Editor Eddie Cunningham with Lotto Winner Gerry Murphy. A Transit van was one of the first purchases he bought with his €6.3m fortune this year.

*Average mileage nowadays is 40,000km – that’s a lot when you consider stop-start deliveries in urban areas. There is one with 999,000kms still going strong in Germany.

*Among the Transit’s ‘firsts’ were: a 5,000-mile service interval, driver/passengers airbag and ESP as standard.

*They made a small number, initially, in Ireland at Ford Cork’s plant.

*Transits have come in all guises for loads of companies: from P&T to eircom, Garda, ambulances, schools buses and thousands of one-man operations.

*The life of some components is now extended to 400,000km.

*“We started with a wheelbarrow (the old Thames) and now we’ve got a spaceship.” That’s Transit historian Peter Lee talking about the mega strides in half a century.

*One-in-four new vans on Irish roads is a Transit – be it the small Courier, mid-size Connect, larger Custom and 2-tonne Transit.

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