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How Ford Changed The Game: A History Of The Transit Van

May 24th, 2023

Among the most recognisable automobile brands worldwide, Ford have been setting the tone with adaptable vans and thoroughly-equipped automobiles for well over 100 years. Originally at the forefront of innovation, and releasing their flagship Ford Transit Van in the early 1950s, this groundbreaking vehicle debut was ultimately the dawn of a new era. Interested in exploring the very best features and historic variations of a worldwide favourite? Let Van Sales UK take you through from generation to generation of Ford Transit, from the earliest versions of this commercial champion, to modern EV variants with sustainability in mind.

Why Invest In A Van?

There are an assortment of reasons why you may be considering the purchase of a van – be it a lack of space in your current car, inadequate payload for your regular workplace tasks or simply the need for a formal and functional automobile to get you from A to B. A presentable and well-maintained van may well be the difference between a customer choosing your services or opting for someone else altogether – and as you most likely know – your vehicle is a reflection of your professionalism.

Traditionally larger than cars, bulkier and possessing more storage room for parcels, materials, utilities and optional seating, whether your daily routine includes parcel delivery or travel from site to site, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a mode of transport better suited to the task than a van.

Ford Foundations

Founded by Henry Ford and recognised as being formed on June 16th 1903, Ford are famed for introducing innovative methods for the large-scale manufacturing of cars – and remain the second-largest US-based producer of vehicles, just behind General Motors. A notable name throughout the 20th Century, Ford haven’t always been the global powerhouse company they’re seen as today. One of the world’s largest and most profitable companies, Ford originally specialised in the output of domestic automobiles, including Models A, B, C, F, K, N, R, and S for their formative years as an organisation, going on to supply the mass-produced Model T through the 1920s.

Other recognisable releases include the Ford Mercury, Mustang, Capri and Escort – all of which are synonymous in their own right. Panel vans only rose to significance during the 1960s, at which point the Volkswagen Bus was a contender for those seeking a bulkier and less streamlined automobile for the roads. Though identified by some as the true predecessor of the British and German-built Ford Transit, the production of the Ford FK 1000 began in 1953, and would develop to become the vehicle we all know and love.

Early Iterations

The first generation of Ford Transit (also known as The Transit Mark I in the United Kingdom) was introduced in October 1965, Boasting a premium of spaces as one of its main advantages, alongside much more cargo room than competitors. Such was the monumental success that this generation had the longest production run of any Transit to date, staying mostly unaltered and unchanged for up to 12 years until the major facelift of 1977. Manufactured in Berkshire, the demand for the vehicle from UK buyers began to increase, until a new plant was opened in Southampton. Throughout this run, a wide variety of configurations were also released, including minibuses, pickup trucks, panel vans and even crew vans.

Ford’s trademark consideration for comfort would become increasingly evident upon the release of the 1977 Transit Mark II – which debuted with a restyled nose section and number of desirable details. Ford’s optional custom plan also  contributed to success, allowing buyers to alter their vehicle in a number of ways depending on their profession or intended use, be it cab features, safety options or storage sections. Engineering updates also made for incredible improvements in reliability & safety alongside internal comfort

Features And Development

The proceeding years saw numerous changes not only in the way vehicles were manufactured, but also in terms of the changes implemented from generation to generation. The front suspension was changed to a fully independent configuration, further increasing payload, while a major facelift in 1994 gave the Transit a new dashboard, air conditioning, electric windows, central locking, electric mirrors and airbags.

Furthermore allowing buyers to focus on the features which matter to them, this was the period in which the Sport Van was first introduced. A sporty body kit, racing stripes and large alloys made the van a force to be reckoned with, and Ford’s experience in the car market meant that the new millennium’s Transit was more like a traditional Ford automobile in performance, drive and comfort.

The Generation Game

Offered in three different roof lengths and three different roof heights, the fourth-generation Transit was the first version to be offered for sale in the United States and Canada. Ford created a double cab Transit model for this generation, with its main purpose being to carry up to seven people, while boasting up to 10.6 cubic metres of flexible load space. Arriving soon after these alterations was the E-Transit, a versatile fully-electric van which What Car? Named as ‘Van of the Year’ in 2022.

In Europe, the Ford Transit has been the best-selling light commercial vehicle for over 40 years, and in 2020 Ford marked this success with the announcement of the sustainable and clean air compliant e-Transit Van. This all-electric vehicle has already taken the world by storm, and with free fast delivery nationwide and free breakdown cover, Van Sales UK is the ideal option when shopping for a new electric van for you or your business. With part exchange welcome, competitive finance rates and leasing options, you can get your van the way you want to pay.

The Future Of Vans

Affordable to maintain and capable of being charged at home for minimal cost, up until the 2010s, electric vans were seen as an unlikely development – although they certainly excel, and are only likely to improve as further updates occur. Batteries were once not powerful enough, being far too big and cumbersome to allow for proper cargo transportation in previous years – an issue which seems scarcely believable considering the hefty payloads of current Ford Transit options. The future promises new technology, even more affordable and speedy charging, as well as design revamps to keep pace with the various generations of the non-electric Transit.

Van Sales UK: Permanently Acquire A Ford Transit Connect Or Explore Transit Van Hire

At Van Sales UK, we’re proud suppliers of many leading van brands – from the ever-reliable Ford Transit to the innovative and versatile Maxus Deliver 9, you can explore a range of manufacturers. If you’re looking for a road-ready van, perfect for removals, deliveries and goods transport, we allow customers nationwide to equip themselves with brand new or used vehicles, whereas finance options are just as desirable. With an abundance of storage options and in-cab comfort features, you’re sure to find a payment plan or specific arrangement that suits your needs.

Both online and offline, with head offices based in Bristol, customer satisfaction is at the forefront of everything we do at Van Sales UK. We have a dedicated account management team that will even make sure you’re kept up to date throughout the sales process, from order to delivery.  Our service doesn’t stop when we deliver your van, and we are here to help throughout the life of the vehicle. If you have any questions regarding a long term van lease or would like assistance, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us to discuss your requirements. Call us now on 0117 428 7721 or send an email to


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