The Ford Transit

The “Backbone of Britain” is a Super Van

The Ford Transit was born out of a partnership between Germany and the United Kingdom’s branches of Ford Motor Company. Originally named Project Redcap, the Transit van became the first Ford product to be developed for all of Europe. These two companies combined their insights and observations from the German Taunus Transit and the British 400E to create a van that has reached far beyond Europe in influence and use.

Launched in Britain in 1965 the Ford Transit would burst onto the automobile market and take on roads across the world. Both the long and short wheelbase versions were available to consumers from the start, along with a variety of rear door and cab door options. At the time of its British launch, the most expensive Transit available was a 15 seat Custom bus model priced at 997 British pounds. By 1966 the Transit’s popularity was so far reaching it could be found at an elevation of 14,000 feet on bus routes in the Andes Mountains.

In 1972 The Transit “Supervan” was introduced at the Brands Hatch Circuit racetrack in England. The Supervan was based on one of Ford’s record setting race cars, the GT40. This newly designed van had a 5.0-liter V8 engine and could reach a top speed of 150 miles per hour. The Supervan would continue to be modified and rereleased in successive generations throughout the decades to come with the Supervan 2 in 1984 and the Supervan 3 in 1994.

By 1976 the Transit had grown so popular that Ford produced its one millionth Transit. Demand and production of this multi-use van continued to flourish with the four millionth transit being driven off the assembly line not even 30 years later in 2000. The range of use cases for the Transit from commercial, personal, and recreational have earned the van the nickname the “Backbone of Britain.”

Throughout the years the Transit range has grown from its long and short wheelbase cargo style to include the Custom, Tourneo, Connect, Courier, Kombi, and motorhomes built on the Transit chassis. Along with the growing model range in Transit, the van’s production and sales have also expanded. In 1997 in partnership with Jiangling Motors, Ford began production and marketing of the Transit in Nanchang, China.

As of June 2021, one million Transit vans had been produced in North America since production first began in the region in 2014. The Kansas City Assembly Plant celebrated this milestone and will be home to another turning point in late 2021 when production begins of Ford’s first all-electric van, the E-Transit.

In 2001 the Transit was named the International Van of the Year by professional journalists and van users. The Transit range has continued winning this award more than any other model range as of 2021 with honors for the Ford Transit Connect in 2003, the Ford Transit in 2007, the Transit Custom in 2013, the Ford Transit Connect in 2014, and the Ford Transit Custom Hybrids in 2020.

Transit vans are so popular in both the United Kingdom and the United States that for many people the name Transit has become synonymous with any large van. The Ford Transit has been a best-selling van and commercial van market leader in the United States and the United Kingdom for over 40 years. Since its launch in Britain, the Ford Transit has been a breeding ground for innovation and continues to lead the way in what’s possible for both cargo and passenger vans.