Ford Transit as the Backbone of Britain for Last 50 Years

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18 Aug 2015

Ford Transit as the Backbone of Britain for Last 50 Years

Ford Transit Van

Let’s have a look at the prestigious history of Ford Transit through time when it celebrates its 50th birthday

In the motoring history, the UK has had its fair share and in that, the biggest chunk, unquestionably, goes to none other than Ford Transit. Who would have thought that a simple van – which left the production line on 9 August 1965 – would become a legend one day? Over a span of glorious 50 years, the range has expanded so much that it now encompasses four models, powered by some of the most efficient diesel engines of this time, and over eight million Transits have found their new home worldwide.

When did it all start?

It was the year 1964 when the “Project Recap” born, the team led by Ed Baumgartner –known as the godfather of the Transit – was given the task to create a miracle.

On the first day at the Transit office, a huge red book listing all the parts and costs was handed to Brian Eckersley, now 78, who worked in production planning and Peter Best, 77, to keep an eye on the book so the new project would complete on time and on specified budget.

When the first clayed design was presented, it didn’t make a good impression and most of the team thought of it as extremely ugly.

So, what happened next?

What possibly could have happened? As the time flew, the design of the van evolved, and so did the Project Recap name. For the new model – due to replace the outgoing vans – a new naming convention had been established at Ford UK, they called it the V Series, after the already on sale Ford D Series trucks.

Right before the van’s launch, William Batty, then-new Ford Managing director was requested to drive the V Series and the Taunus Transit, its German twin. Internally, the both were utterly different, but from the outside, they were virtually identical.

Let’s call them Transit

Brian recalls that moment and says: “Bill Batty asked me ‘why the different names for what are, in essence, identical products?’ he said it was a ridiculous idea. “He said ‘we’ve got a wonderful name synonymous with transport. Why are we not using it?’ There and then, he decided that he wanted the ‘Transit’ name to be used in the UK.”

It proved a wise decision…

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