The Ford Transit was the most stolen vehicle in the UK in 2015
Supervan 2, based around a mid-engine racing sports car chassis, had a F1-based Cosworth V8 and hit 178mph at Silverstone
A mid-1990s Ford Transit tackles the Nürburgring
6.6 tonnes of Transit with axles from a US military personnel carrier and automatic transmission from a London bus
A custom Transit with chrome exhaust stacks from 1978
In 1965, a Transit was employed by London Zoo to move animals
Wildlife wardens tour the grounds at Woburn Abbey Safari Park in zebra striped Transits
For twenty years Transits were taken apart and reassembled in Britain's only salt mine. They were buried when they wore out
Michael Caine on the set of the movie The Fourth Protocol. The Transit also had a role chasing Pierce Brosnan as the villain
A dog fancier from Denmark arrives in London to attend the 1967 Crufts dog show
In 1975 Penthouse magazine sponsored a team of racing Escorts and chose Transits for support vehicles
In 1985 stunt man Steve Matthews jumped over 15 cars for charity
Justin Law launches a Jaguar XJ220-powered Transit off the line at Goodwood
Five decades separate these models, but they all led their class when new
In all, six distinct generations of Transit have been made
Transit Supervans carried mid-mounted engines, often in a race car chassis
Supervan 3 was a seventh-eighths scale replica of a Transit
It used a Cosworth HB engine, but now features a Ford-Cosworth unit
Inspired by Supervan, the Transit Super Sport has 200bhp and 347lb ft from a 3.2-litre five-pot
Lutons and box van conversions like this are popular configurations
The Transit Custom is the most car-like model yet
The Mk1 remained in production for 21 years. This is a later version with a longer bonnet
The Mk2 Transit was a heavily facelifted version of the original and was powered by a range of V4 engines
The Mk3 and Mk4 had a one-box design and some models adopted independent front suspension
This model was introduced in 2000 and took design cues from contemporary Focus and Mondeo models
The Sportvan featured a 18in alloy wheels, a bodykit, stripes and fake exhaust tailpipes
The Transit Custom launched in 2013 and took the nameplate upmarket to compete with models from VW and Mercedes
It's official - the Ford Transit was the most frequently stolen car in the UK in 2015.
Even more worryingly, according to the National Vehicle Crime Intelligence Service, only one third of stolen Transits are ever recovered. It's easy to see why the Transit is the target of such attention, though. It's still one of the best commercial vehicles around, and few cars have gained such an iconic status in Britain as the mighty Tranny.
The Transit is no stranger to crime, either. In 1972, the Metropolitan police dubbed the Transit 'Britain’s most wanted van'. It said: “Ford Transits are used in 95% of bank raids. With the performance of a car and space for 1.75 tonnes of loot, the Transit is proving the perfect getaway vehicle.”
Celebrating the Ford Transit - a history
History books will tell you much about 1965. Jim Clark won the Indy 500 and F1 world championship. Mary Quant invented the mini skirt. More significantly, a commercial vehicle launched that revolutionised the market and transformed the nation.
That van was the Ford Transit. Now, the van transports billions of pounds of goods around the UK, and contributes even more value to the British economy in mobilising countless trades. There’s barely a builder, plumber or electrician who hasn’t once counted a Transit as their most important tool.
No wonder Transit has become a byword for any kind of big van.
The Transit was originally co-developed by then-rivals Ford of Britain and Ford of Germany, a relationship which became the prototype for today’s Ford of Europe. It entered production at Ford’s Langley facility, which previously built the Spitfire. Later, it moved to the former Hawker Hurricane site in Southampton. With a heritage like that, the legend of the Transit started on a strong footing.
The Transit did for vans what the Mini did for cars. It replaced the narrow, slow and poorly packaged Thames and the German-market FK, which was coincidentally also called the Ford Taunus Transit. The new Transit was spacious, fast and good to drive. Like the smaller, aging Bedford CA, it shunned the front-mid engined layout to adopt a front-engined configuration to maximise space.
The latest Transit is offered with short- and long-wheelbases, and as a double cab, panel van and minibus – more than 5000 theoretical configurations are available. And that’s just for the Custom. The full-fat Transit offers even more choice, and the new smaller Transit Connect and Transit Courier vans means that Ford delivers on the promise of building a Transit for every occasion.
The importance of the Transit cannot be understated. It is the third biggest-selling Ford in the UK, behind the Fiesta and Focus, with over 88,000 units sold in 2015 - equal to a 20.6% share of the UK's commercial vehicle market.
The Transit is the only van - and one of a handful of cars full stop - to be a household name, but it has also been endlessly reinvented. A series of Supervans, which kicked off with a GT40-based Mk1, kept the tradesman in a hurry interested. And in 2007, he could get the look, if not the power, with the striped-up Sportvan complete with 18in alloys and a bodykit.
The Transit is an excellent tool, and very cool. Clever marketing and a self-effacing image have allowed it to warm in the nation’s consciousness. It's also an award-winning van. Since the International Van of the Year award was founded in 1992, the Transit has scooped the award five times.
A Ford advertising campaign in 1999 suggested the Transit was the backbone of Britain. Today its impact is felt more than ever. It is, by any measure, an icon.
And yes, it is available in white.