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The History of the Ford Transit

by Clay Smith 01 Nov 2019
The History of the Ford Transit - 12Volt.Solutions

The Ford Transit is one of those vehicles that almost everyone has at least heard of. These van-style vehicles are very common today, but a lot of people don’t know that Transits have been a popular vehicle option ever since the mid-’60s. 

The Ford Transit has a rich history that spans over fifty years! Let’s go back in time and take a look at the evolution of the Transit. In doing so, we can discover how it became what it is today, and why you might consider purchasing one yourself. 

So, without further ado, let’s jump into the history of the Ford Transit. Let’s start from the very beginning, all the way back in 1965, when the original Ford Transit was unveiled.


The 60’s

1965 Ford Transit

Before the release of the official 1965 Ford Transit, there was the “Tanus Transit.” This vehicle is largely forgotten today, but it gave many vehicle owners a taste of what was to come with the official Ford Transit.

Tanus Transit owners loved this vehicle for its unusually substantial amount of storage space. This was especially the case in Europe, where the Tanus Transit was most popular. 

The 1965 Ford Transit was far more similar to the modern Transit that we all know today. Initially, this vehicle from Ford was manufactured in Berkshire. However, the Transit’s rapidly growing popularity demanded expansion.


The 70’s

1978 Ford Transit

The Mark II Transit was launched in 1978, and it came with a host of improvements that covered the Transit’s cosmetics as well as its engineering.

This model of the Ford Transit was far more reliable than its predecessor. Additionally, it was far more comfortable and convenient for the user. Thanks to these improvements, the Transit Mark II made a name for itself.

Had the 1978 Transit Mark II not stolen the hearts and minds of all that drove it, the modern Transit as we know it may very well not exist. 

Ford Transit


The 80’s

1986 Ford Transit

In 1986, the world was introduced to the second generation Ford Transit. The 1986 Transit came with several feature modifications that made it more closely resemble the Transit we know today. 

Primarily, this included a more modernized and aerodynamic body.

This change in the Transit’s aesthetics was the first of many. Over course of the next thirty years, the Transit would slowly evolve, becoming what it is today. Additionally, the Ford Transit would soon begin to see technological advances that would only continue to improve over time. 


The 90’s

1994 Ford Transit

The 1994 Ford Transit was much like the 1986 Transit in terms of its appearance. However, this Transit model came with several newly-introduced features. 

These modernized features would reappear in the 1995 Transit, to be released only a year later. The 1994 Transit acted as a transitional model with which Ford would field-test these features.

A few of these newly added features included airbags, electric windows, airbags, central locking, and air conditioning. These convenient features are present in almost all vehicles today, but at the time, they were considered revolutionary. 


1995 Ford Transit

By 1995, the Ford Transit was already one of the biggest names in the world of transportation. The 1995 Ford Transit was launched in celebration of the Transit’s 30th anniversary, and it was aptly named “The Hallmark.”

Chances are, you haven’t even seen one of these in person. That’s because only 600 of them were made, making the Transit Hallmark something of a special collector’s items. 


The 2000’s

2000 Ford Transit

In the year 2000, the modern era of vehicles really started to take off. Consequently, the 2000 Ford Transit features several improvements over the previous 1995 and 1994 models. 

First of all:

It featured a top speed of 90 mph, which was very impressive for a commercial vehicle of this time. Plus, Ford made improvements to the Transit’s air conditioning, central locking, and airbags. 

Furthermore, this was the first time that a Transit model was available in multiple variations. The 2000 Ford Transit came in both a medium and tall option. The latter provided extra space, while the prior was more fuel-efficient and practical for the average family.

Ford Transit History


2006 Ford Transit

The 2006 Ford Transit was a lot like the 2000 Ford Transit. It was more of an upgrade on the previous version that it was a totally new model. In fact, most of the changes that were made were purely cosmetic.

This model was called the Transit Sport Van, and it came with alloy wheels as well as a sporty set of racing stripes. 


The 2010’s

2013 Ford Transit

In 2013, Ford launched the fourth generation Transit. This is when the Transit really became what it is now. This model received improvements across the board, from aspects as simple as steering to upgraded stereo systems. 

Several variations of the 2013 Ford Transit are still being made today, including the Courier, the Connect, and the Custom. There are a wide variety of Transits and Transit-inspired models to meet the needs of a wide variety of drivers. 


The Ford Transit’s Rich History 

As you can see, the Ford Transit has a rich and colorful history. It started strong with its initial release in 1965, and it proved that it was here to stay in 1978 when it adapted so well to the ever-changing vehicular climate. 

Ford’s ability to adapt and change with the times never really relented, which is primarily why we still see new Transit models today. The success of the Transit is directly related to the success of Ford as a company. 

Their high standards and attention to detail are apparent when you take a close look at the Transit in its various iterations. Time after time, they managed to stay ahead of the curve, making the Ford Transit a name that everyone knows.

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