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A complete guide to Ford Custom and Transit Vans

A complete guide to Ford Custom and Transit Vans
December 19th, 2022

In any discussion of vans and trade vehicles, it is likely that the name Ford will crop up more than once. There is no denying that the Detroit-born motor company has established itself as a giant in the automotive world, and for good reason. Ford has been responsible for a number of innovations and technological advancements that are now commonplace in vans all over the world.

The Transit and Transit Custom are two of Ford’s most popular models. They are loved by workers, tradespeople and van enthusiasts alike, and used in a range of industries. For almost 60 years, the transit range has dominated the market across the UK, strengthening its reputation for reliability and performance year after year. Eight generations since the Transit first left the production line, it is still one of the most popular models on the market, and it shows no signs of slowing down.

So, what makes the transit and its custom variant so popular? Aside from years of engineering, unparalleled attention to detail and a reputation for excellence, these vans offer numerous intuitive features, practical potential and a brilliant driving experience.

Of course, with an overwhelming number of vehicles available today, all boasting a wealth of amazing features, it can be difficult to decide which is right for you. If the Ford Transit has caught your eye, it’s worth reading up on all that these vehicles have to offer.

Fortunately, we’ve put together a guide to help you get to grips with the basics of this reliable vehicle. Read on to discover the complete guide to the history of the Transit and Transit Custom, courtesy of Van Sales UK.

The History Of The Ford Transit

Before we dive into the modern versions of the Transit, it is worth understanding the history of this great vehicle.

The First Transit

The first official version of the Ford Transit was launched in 1965, hailing from a converted aircraft base in Berkshire, England, that had previously been used in the second world war. The transit was an instant success in the UK, revolutionising the vehicle market with its abundance of space. The added cargo room that appeared in the first Transit was a game-changer, placing ford ahead of the competition and taking the concept of practical vehicles beyond its current state.

The great success of the first Transit may be attributed to its spacious design; the wide body shape, high roofline and squared-off panelling made it extremely popular among the UK market. Tradespeople from all walks of life welcomed the Transit with open arms, laying the groundwork for what is now an iconic vehicle.

Second Generation Transit

Just over two decades later, in 1986, Ford introduced the second generation of Transit vans. With this new generation came a major facelift and some significant improvements to the van’s technology and engineering.

Ford worked on the overall look of the Transit, introducing a slanted windscreen and bonnet to improve aerodynamics, visibility and aesthetic appeal. The simple box-style design remained, of course, but adopted a more refined appearance. Regarding the drivability of the transit, the handling was improved via the introduction of independent front suspension on short-wheelbase models.

As is common with Ford models, the second-generation Transit experienced a mid-life makeover, with improvements added during the later years of its life in 1994. This upgrade saw the introduction of electric windows, air-conditioning, airbags and central locking, all of which were pretty much unheard of in other vans.  In doing so, Ford became known for a level of comfort that was otherwise alien to commercial vehicles.

With the second-generation’s improved space and comfort, the Transit range proved they could be far more than a work vehicle; Ford blurred the lines between practicality and personal use.

Third Generation

After releasing two incredible models of Transit in the late 20th century, Ford had set the bar pretty high in relation to practicality, comfort and performance. But, as always, the brand outdid itself; the third generation of Transit was a real leap, introducing a number of design elements that remain in modern versions.

This generation of Transit first hit the roads in 2000, boasting improved comfort and truly car-like performance. Alongside the two height options was the choice of front or rear-wheel drive, giving buyers more choice than ever before.

Below the bonnet, Ford swapped out the old engine for their Mondeo diesel model. This gave the third-generation Transit some serious power in comparison to its predecessor, facilitating heavier loads and a top speed of 90mph.

Fourth Generation & Transit Custom

Fast forward just over a decade and the Transit entered its most advanced stage yet. The fourth generation of Transit was focused primarily on providing customers with the choice they deserved. With much larger loading areas, the choice between 3 different wheelbase lengths and a number of height options, it is no wonder that this generation Transit was a huge success.

However, this generation of Transit wasn’t the only van released by Ford at the time. The Ford Transit Custom was introduced as a slightly smaller, 1-tonne version of the legendary large Transit. This van presented yet another practical and industry-friendly option to Ford’s customer base, incorporating everything the manufacturer had worked on in previous years and packaging it into one incredibly well-designed vehicle.

The Transit Custom really does epitomise the balance between comfort, practicality and appearance. It is no wonder it is the UK’s best-selling van.

Ford Transit 2022

Today, the Ford Transit and Transit Custom are better than ever, available in a host of different sizes to suit the needs of every customer. From short wheelbases and 3-seaters to extended cargo areas and crew cabs, there are seemingly endless options.

The Ford E-Transit

No complete guide to Ford’s incredible Transit range would be complete without mentioning the newest developments in electric vehicle technology. In 2022, the E-Transit was driven off the production line. This is Ford’s first fully-electric large van, boasting all the amazing features of the diesel counterpart, with an all-electric engine.

Not only is the E-Transit incredibly powerful, performing impeccably in all conditions and with any payload, but it is also aesthetically stunning, comfortable and cheaper than its competitors.

Finding The Right Transit For You

If the evolution of Ford’s powerful Transit range hasn’t convinced you of its excellence, we’re not sure what will. If you can see yourself behind the wheel of this great vehicle, though, you might be wondering which model is right for you.

Finding a model that suits the needs of you and your business depends on a number of factors. Here are three things to consider when choosing a Transit van.

  • Size Requirements What will need to fit and be stored in the van? Consider equipment, tools, materials etc.
  • Payload Capacity – For work involving the transportation of heavier materials and equipment, opting for a model with a higher payload is a must.
  • Comfort – Though all of Ford’s recent models feature a number of features for added comfort, if you’ll be spending extended periods of time at the wheel, it may be worth opting for some additional features.

Van Sales UK: Transit & Transit Custom Deals

Here at Van Sales UK, we are proud to supply a huge range of Transit and Transit customs to professionals, tradies, adventurers, Van-lovers and businesses across the UK. If you’re looking for a van, then you’ve come to the right place.

Our friendly and knowledgeable team are always more than happy to discuss your requirements and point you in the right direction. Don’t hesitate to get in touch with us today.

Call 0117 428 7721 or send an email to


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