Prior to 1965, Ford offered two independent commercial vehicle lines for European customers -the FK van from Germany launched in 1953 and the Thames van from the UK launched in 1954. As the Sixties dawned, there was a clear demand from van customers for greater ability - more load area capacity, more payload, more flexibility and more speed - and Ford decided to replace the two models with an all-new generation of purpose-built vans that would address the needs of all European markets and be built in both the UK and Germany.

The first ever Transit came down the line at the company's Langley commercial vehicle plant in Berkshire, England on August 9. It was already packed with innovations like a printed circuit in the instrument panel, an optional steering lock, a side loading door and seatbelt attachment points. Soon after launch more innovations such as halogen headlights, tubeless tyres and weight-saving minimum leaf springs were introduced.

The original Transit was powered by 74 PS 1.7-litre or 86 PS 2.0-litre petrol engines and the first diesel was a Perkins 4/99 with 44 PS. It was available in two wheelbases, each with three payload derivatives (short-wheelbase from 610 to 1,120 kg, long-wheelbase from 1,272 kg to 1,782 kg). Vans could be built with twin rear doors or a tailgate, slam or sliding cab doors, and with or without a side loading door.

Diesel engine production for Transit began at the Dagenham plant, close to London.

Transit's appearance was modernised with the introduction of a more car-like grille.

Ford introduced its first small high-speed diesel engine, called the York. It came in two power ratings, 55 PS for use in the short wheel base models and 62 PS for use in the heavier long wheelbase models.

To reduce running costs for owners, Transit was the first commercial vehicle to fit radial ply tyres across the range.

New 1,000 kg payload model based on the long-wheelbase bodyshell but running on single rear wheels.

The new Transit could immediately be recognised by a new functional "black look". The grille, bumpers, windscreen trim and wing-mirrors were all painted black. Inside the cab the pedals were moved forward and the seat moved back to create 100 mm of extra legroom, while the steering column was lengthened to improve the driving position. Even more importantly, Transit was the first to use servo-assisted front disc brakes - in short-wheelbase models from 1975 and long-wheelbase models a year later.

A new top-weight Transit, the 190, was introduced, taking Transit's maximum gross weight to 3.5 tonnes. As part of this programme front disc brakes were introduced across the range, with the new heavyweight 190 featuring ventilated disc brakes for the first time on a medium commercial vehicle.

A major production milestone was reached as the one-millionth Ford Transit was driven off the assembly line.

Transit's first major styling change came with the launch of the new-shape model in March 1978. The hitherto stubby bonnet was now more streamlined and lengthened so that it could adequately package both petrol and the increasingly popular diesel engines. At the same time new, more fuel efficient overhead cam (OHC) engines were introduced. Other changes included the introduction of Ford's C3 automatic transmission and a new more powerful heater with car-like ducting.


As part of the 2.5 litre direct injection (DI) diesel development programme, 100 prototype engines were used in an extensive field trial with operators.

The revolutionary 2.5-litre DI diesel engine was introduced, which used a rotary fuel injection pump. It gave a power increase from 62 to 68 PS and yet at the same time led to fuel consumption improvements of up to 24 per cent on short-wheelbase models and 20 per cent on long-wheelbase models.

Another production milestone - the two-millionth Ford Transit is produced on July 25, 1985.

The next all-new Transit was introduced in January, just over 20 years after the original launch. This daringly radical 'fast-front' Transit had a best-in-class drag coefficient (CdA) of 0.37 that was better than a number of cars at the time. While the load space was increased by between 11 per cent and 13.5 per cent, the CdA was reduced by 11 per cent, allowing a fuel consumption saving of up to eight per cent.

The new nose was not just an aerodynamic device; it was also designed to collapse progressively in a crash and thus improve safety. The new wide bonnet also provided unrivalled access to the engine for servicing. The design team created bigger cab doors, with deeper windows giving a greater sense of space. Load access was improved by using wider and taller rear doors and increasing the width of the side loading door, so that it would accept a one metre wide pallet. Other important changes included the introduction of modified MacPherson strut independent front suspension and rack-and-pinion steering on short-wheelbase models, direct glazing for the windscreen, plus the use of high security 'Chubb-style' locks on doors and the ignition to improve vehicle security.

Transit broke new ground again with a major redesign of the underbody structure. It not only improved manufacturing efficiency and thus build quality, but also allowed these models to handle the full force of a 48 km/h (30 mph) barrier crash test. The new underbody design allowed a new one-and-half tonne payload short-wheelbase model, the Transit 150, to be introduced on 15-inch wheels.

Long-wheelbase models changed even more significantly. The 15-inch wheels became standard, the model adopted single rear wheels and switched to an independent front suspension with rack-and-pinion steering.

The 1991 model also introduced a turbocharged diesel engine in Transit. This new derivative of the 2.5-litre DI featured the first-ever use of electronic management on a medium commercial vehicle, and was key to it producing 100 PS and also meeting stringent exhaust emissions standards. A new 80 PS naturally aspirated 2.5-litre DI diesel, which used a ram effect inlet manifold and complemented the existing 70 PS unit, was also introduced.

Ford produced its three-millionth Transit vehicle on September 15, the same month in which another new Transit was introduced. Easily recognisable by its friendly oval shaped grille, this model was the most refined, secure and safest Transit ever built. Sound levels measured at the ear were 5 dBA lower than before, representing a dramatic reduction in the perceived noise level of almost 70 per cent.

The security of all van and chassis cab models was significantly improved by a number of specifically designed deterrents including central-locking, a perimeter alarm, double-locking and Ford's electronic, passive anti-theft system. Occupant safety was further improved by the introduction of a full three-point lap and diagonal seatbelt for the front-centre passenger and the availability of driver and dual passenger airbags.

From the Spring, the simple lap belts fitted to all rear seats of 12- and 15-seat Transit buses were replaced with three-point, lap and diagonal seatbelts. Driver comfort was improved by a restyled cab interior, featuring new trim materials in lighter, brighter colours, a completely revised dash incorporating a Mondeo-style instrument cluster and new climate control system.

The Transit 17-seat minibus made its debut. It had comfort, plus the highest level of safety of any other of its kind including: three-part inertia reel lap and diagonal seatbelts throughout, tested to passenger car standards, high-backed rear seats with fixed head restraints, driver and outer front passenger airbags fitted as standard, and anti-lock brakes fitted as standard.

Transit goes into production at Ford's Hai Dong, Vietnam assembly plant, and the first China-made Transit vehicle is built by JMC in Nanchang, a joint venture operation between Jiangling Motors Co., Ltd. and Ford.

Electronic Brake Force Distribution and Traction Assist were introduced along with an enhanced immobilisation system and improved steering column locking. For the first time, Ford Transits of varying specification were converted to run on liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), and an Autoclutch system was introduced with manual gear selection and automatic clutch operation.


After thirty-five years, the next generation all-new Ford Transit was launched. Produced at Ford's Genk Assembly Plant in Belgium, it made its public debut at the RAI 2000 European Road Transport Show in Amsterdam. An industry first with front-wheel drive and rear-wheel drive configurations built on a common platform.

Yet another production milestone - the four-millionth Ford Transit was built.

Formula One-style gear change technology came to the new Ford Transit range with the advanced Durashift EST automated transmission.

The new Transit was voted "International Van of the Year 2001", and also won the prestigious "Arctic Van test"of 2001 held in Lapland and "Parcel Van of the Year 2001" in Germany.

The 4.25-tonne, dual rear-wheel Transit Jumbo was launched at the Amsterdam International Motor Show. Building on the success of the 3.5-tonne Jumbo launched in 2001, the new model offered Transit's best-ever combination of load space and payload.

Ford also unveiled the Transit Connect, a new smaller member of the Transit family offering class-leading load-area flexibility and security as well as low cost of ownership.

Ford's new common-rail turbo-diesel engine, the Duratorq TDCi, became available on the Transit, initially offered as a 2.0-litre 125 PS option on front-wheel drive Transit models.

A new two-tonne low-floor, front-wheel drive model joined the range.

The new Transit Connect was voted "International Van of the Year"for 2003, along with awards in seven individual countries.

Another industry first - anti-locking brake system (ABS) becomes a standard feature.

Production of Ford Transit moved from Genk, Belgium, to the state-of-the-art Ford Otosan plant in Kocaeli, Turkey.

The Ford Transit Connect won the prestigious "Arctic Van test"of 2005, held in Lapland.

Another milestone as the five-millionth Transit was built, and on August 9 2005 Ford Transit celebrated its 40th birthday.

A new-generation Transit was launched, with a fresh exterior design and a new cabin offering a dash-mounted gear lever and increased comfort and feature availability. Electronic Stability Programme (ESP) became widely available through the product range, while a new range of engines - six diesels and one petrol, also with CNG and LPG conversions - offered clean and efficient power.

Intelligent All Wheel Drive was added, making Transit the only Van to offer front-wheel drive, rear-wheel drive and all-wheel drive versions on the same platform. ESP was now standardised on all front- and rear-wheel drive models with Duratorq TDCi, and the new Transit SportVan Series was introduced.

The Transit was voted "International Van of the Year 2007".

The powerful new 3.2-litre Duratorq TDCi with 200 PS and 470 Nm was introduced for high payload rear-wheel drive models.

The fuel-efficient Transit ECOnetic was launched. With the optional coated diesel particle filter (cDPF), Transit ECOnetic was the first Ford commercial vehicle to achieve Euro Stage V emission levels.

Transit passed the six million production milestone on April 30. In August, Transit had its 45th anniversary.

With the launch of the 2012 Transit, Ford introduced the new global 2.2-litre Duratorq TDCi diesel engine family, offering Euro Stage V emission levels and new fuel-saving technologies including Auto-Start-Stop and switchable speed limiter.

The all-new Transit Custom was launched. This dedicated solution for the one-tonne segment offered new levels of style, safety and load-carrying ability, as well as excellent fuel economy and cost of ownership. This was recognised by the "International Van of the Year 2013"award; the new Transit Custom was also the first vehicle in its segment to receive a Euro NCAP 5-star safety rating.

In parallel with the introduction of the Transit Custom, Ford also revealed its full plans for renewing and extending the Ford Transit range with an all-new four model line-up. In addition to the one-tonne Transit Custom, this line-up comprises: the all-new two-tonne Transit, for launch in spring 2014, and also to be manufactured and sold in the US for the first time; the all-new Transit Connect, for launch in late 2013; and taking Transit into the compact van segment for the first time, the all-new Transit Courier, for launch in spring 2014.

On June 20, Ford celebrated production of the seven-millionth Transit.