The Ford Transit is now over half a century old and undoubtedly one of the most iconic vans to grace the highways and byways of Britain.
A van which has helped countless businesses to transport people and goods all over the world, the Ford Transit is a design classic which, incredibly, has sold around 8 million vehicles worldwide. It’s such a popular vehicle that it’s estimated a new Transit van is sold every 3 minutes!
Launched in 1965, the Mark I Transit was initially built at a former Hawker Hurricane aeroplane factory in Berkshire, but demand for the new vehicle proved so high that production was moved to Southampton in 1972.
The Transit was made in Southampton right up until 2013 when, after 100 years in the UK, production of Ford vehicles was moved to Turkey. During the 40 years that Ford was based in Southampton, an incredible 2 million Transit vans were produced at the company’s factory there.
The Transit has of course greatly evolved over the years. From the Mark II Transit released in 1978, through the ‘second generation’ of vans in the late 1980s which saw the vehicle’s exterior modified to the standard shape we recognise today, to the ‘fourth generation’ and the launch of the Transit Custom in 2013, the van’s history has been one of constant development and improvement.
As well as helping countless tradespeople, during its long history the Transit van has been used in many unusual situations and for many unexpected purposes. Did you know that:
• In 1965 a Transit van was used to transport two baby elephants at London Zoo?
• In the same year students from Barking College broke the world record for the number of people who could fit into a Transit minibus? Almost unbelievably, 48 people managed to squash themselves into the vehicle!
• The van hasn’t always been used for innocent purposes? In the 1970s the police described the Transit as a “perfect getaway vehicle” due to the frequency with which it was used in bank robberies. A Scotland Yard spokesman observed that “Ford Transits are used in 95 per cent of bank raids.”
• In 1972 two Transits were raced around the high speed Monza race circuit in Italy for an entire week? They reached a top speed of 73.684 mph and clocked up an incredible 10,000 miles, breaking three world endurance records in the process.
• Roles have reversed since the 1970s and it’s now the police, rather than bank robbers, who are using the van? Transits – incorporating a cage to hold those under arrest - are widely used by police forces across the UK.
• A Transit has appeared on screen many times over the years? The van has featured in TV shows including The Bill, Neighbours, Dempsey and Makepeace and Top Gear (in which Jeremy Clarkson drove a Transit hover van up the river Avon) as well as in films Strangers On A Train and the spy thriller Fourth Protocol, in which Michael Caine drove one in a car chase.
With such a variety of uses and as one of Britain’s best loved vehicles, the future is clearly bright for the Ford Transit!
Did you know that you can rent a Transit for very competitive rates from Mayday Vehicle Rentals? Contact the team today on 01582 545454 to find out more.