The Transit Name
One of the Transit's predecessors, the FK van from Germany launched in 1953, was the first Ford vehicle to introduce the Transit name when it became known from 1960 as Ford Taunus Transit. When Ford set about introducing its new European van in 1965 the new model could well have been launched as the "V-Series"in Britain, had it not been for the intervention of Bill Batty, who was later to become Ford of Britain Chairman, Sir William Batty. Just a few weeks before public announcement Batty asked to see one of the latest pilot build vehicles and as it happened a German left-hand drive vehicle badged 'Transit' was sent to him at Ford's British headquarters. Batty immediately seized upon the name and had it changed in time for the pan-European launch.

Project Redcap
The development work for the 1965 Transit was started under the code name of "Project Redcap". The early work was started by a planning team led by American engineer Ed Baumgartner and brought together some of Ford's best known European engineers, including Ron Mellor - later Engineering Director, Terry Beckett - later Ford of Britain Chairman, and Alex Trotman, who would go on to become Ford Motor Company's worldwide Chairman and Chief Executive Officer.

High Speed Testing
The original Transit engineering project was led from Britain by a design team based in a section of what was then Ford of Britain's Parts warehouse in South Ockendon, Essex. Ford's Boreham Airfield test track facility in England was used for durability testing, but was not designed to cope with sustained high speed driving, so this was carried out on public roads. In the last few months of the test programme, just before a 70mph blanket speed limit was introduced in Britain, the local Essex Police became quite used to witnessing high speed night time testing by Ford engineers and often stopped the drivers to find out how things were going!

A New Transit - for £542
At the British launch in October 1965, the cheapest Transit - a short-wheelbase, petrol-engined van with a 610 kg payload - cost £542. The most expensive Transit listed at that time was a 15-seat Custom bus, which cost £997, plus £159 purchase tax.

A Reliable Choice, for the Police, Pop Stars and Peruvian Bus Drivers
Reliability has become a hallmark of the Transit over the years - which is why it has long been a favourite choice for police, fire and ambulance services plus roadside rescue and security firms, for whom failure to arrive could spell disaster. Its fame quickly spread far and wide - within months of its launch in 1965 a fleet of Transit buses was operating on some of the world's highest bus routes, regularly crossing the Peruvian Andes at heights in excess of 4,000 metres. The Transit also quickly found favour with the pop music industry, its durability soon making it "the roadies' favourite" as it moved up-and-coming pop groups around Europe between gigs, often through the night.

Bury a Transit for Posterity
Professor Reyner Banham, writing in the magazine New Society in 1970, said "Bury a Transit for posterity! Seriously - if anthropologists and archaeologists continue to insist on evaluating civilisations by their artefacts, we deserve to be remembered by the Ford Transit - the Pantechnicon Extraordinary to the way we live."

[float:left] View attachment 137147 [/float]The Amazing Transit Supervan Series
The first Transit Supervan made its debut at Brands Hatch on Easter Monday in 1971. This hot property was based on a Ford GT4O sports racing car and powered by a 5.0-litre V8 engine. It could achieve a top speed of 240 km/h (149 mph).

In 1985, fourteen years after the debut of the original, Ford introduced Supervan II. This was based on another Ford ex-Le Mans car, the C100, and powered by a DFY Cosworth V8 engine. It clocked 280 km/h (174 mph) at the Silverstone race circuit, UK.
Supervan II was transformed into Supervan III in 1995 with a new-look bodyshell and one of Ford's latest 3.5 litre Grand Prix engines. This vehicle survives, albeit now fitted with a Cosworth 2.9-litre 24-valve engine, in the Ford Heritage Collection housed at the company's Dagenham plant in the UK.

Britain's Most Wanted Van
London's Metropolitan Police cast aspersions on Transit's good name in 1972 by calling it "Britain's most wanted van."A Scotland Yard spokesman pointed out: "Ford Transits are used in 95 per cent of bank raids. With the performance of a car, and space for 1.75 tonnes of loot, the Transit is proving to be the perfect getaway vehicle..."

A Slippery Start
When the day dawned for the UK press to get their first look at the still secret all-new "fast front"model in the winter of 1985/6, the test track was slippery with ice and the Ford PR team deliberated as to whether it was a good idea to test drive the company's few hand-built prototypes in such conditions. In the event the journalists drove very carefully and, somewhat ironically, it was one of the senior Ford hosts who spun off, badly damaging one of the priceless Transits!

Buried in Snow for Six Months
In October 1985, Sen'or Juan Garcia, a resident of Seville province and a proud Transit owner, was caught by a freak snowstorm some 3000 metres up a mountain pass. He was forced to abandon his Transit Kombi to the elements, but thankfully he and his family escaped without harm. The vehicle was subsequently buried under five metres of snow and could not be retrieved. But he did return next year...

In the spring, more than six months after his Transit was buried in the mountain snow, Sen'or Garcia returned to the place where he was stranded. He was amazed to find that the Transit's bodywork was only slightly damaged. He was even more amazed when the Transit started up at the first try. Without further ado, he was able to drive it safely back home!

[float:right] View attachment 137148 [/float]Ford World Rally Transit
One of the early 2000 Transits became the basis for a special project - the Ford World Rally Transit. This featured a carbon-fibre front air splitter and rear aerofoil, a rally interior featuring steel tubular roll cage, carbon-fibre bucket seats, racing harnesses, internal fire extinguisher system and Pi System 2 on-board data-logging system. It had an uprated version of Transit's acclaimed 2.4-litre Duratorq engine. With an available 165 PS and 410 Nm of torque, Ford Rally Transit could reach 100 km/h in less than eight seconds and go on to a maximum speed of 210 km/h (130 mph). A revised exhaust system, revised brakes and lowered MacPherson strut suspension completed the Ford World Rally Transit package, finished in striking Ford Martini World Rally colours for maximum visual impact. This unique vehicle is still owned by the Ford Heritage Collection.